Digital Rights Management

Last week, I mentioned the suite of productivity tools. A reader raised the question of whether any Digital Rights Management (DRM) features are in progress for that platform. It's a good question. I don't know of any current DRM projects directly related to, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or won't exist in the future.

Several DRM efforts not directly related to are underway. As you probably know, Microsoft is developing its own implementations of DRM technology, and they promise to be a powerful way of placing restrictions on many kinds of content. The new Microsoft Office 2003 suite ( ) contains DRM features.

For example, Office Word 2003 contains information rights management functionality that lets a document owner define how recipients can handle documents in terms of forwarding, copying, and printing them and determine expiration dates for those permissions. A document owner can also designate sections of a document that only certain people can change, force the use of revision marks for changes, and force the use of certain formatting and styles. Microsoft has integrated the same type of functionality into Office Excel 2003 and Office Outlook 2003.

If you want to use Office 2003's rights management features, your network must implement Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) for Windows Server 2003. RMS is based on the Extensible Rights Markup Language (XrML), which is a method for defining rights and policies. You can learn more about RMS at the first URL below. You'll find RMS add-ons for Windows clients and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) at the second URL below, along with links to other Microsoft Web pages related to RMS technologies. Keep in mind that RMS currently is available only in limited beta; however, Microsoft says that it expects to release the technology sometime this year. I suppose that unless the company pushes the date back, that means within the next 3 months.

While I was looking for projects supporting DRM, I came across an interesting Web site, Cover Pages, that has a section dedicated to DRM technology and associated topics. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) hosts the site.

At the site, you'll find links to two dozen DRM-related projects, including OASIS Rights Language, Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL), Extensible Rights Markup Language (XrML), Digital Property Rights Language (DPRL), MPEG Rights Expression Language and Data Dictionary, Open Ebook Initiative Rights and Rules Working Group, Electronic Book Exchange (EBX) Working Group, and many others.

Also at the site, you'll find links to DRM-related events and a list of news stories, papers, and other articles. The site is kept current with timely and relevant information, so consider bookmarking it, or use Cover Pages' Remote Storage Service (RSS) feed, which is available in XML format and uses the RSS 0.91 format. The feed is available at the first URL below. Alternatively, if you use RSS feed reading software that has Web page scraping functionality (such as Syndirella), you might want to scrape the news headlines page at the second URL below.

For loads of information regarding DRM in general, check a major search engine, such as, where you'll find plenty of links to facts, opinions, news stories, resource sites, editorials, and more. I think DRM can be useful at times, but keep in mind that although many major vendors support the DRM concept, DRM also provokes a lot of industry criticism. To obtain a more balanced viewpoint, be sure to read some critical opinions too. In addition to using the basic search URL below, also use the search engines at some of the major computing news outlets that focus on cross-platform coverage of the computing industry.

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