Marching to a Different DRM – Part 2

In the world of digital rights management, or DRM, the consumer marketplace has gotten much of the attention, with music and film industry giants pitted against users in a fierce fight against online piracy. One of the industry titans’ tactics has been to implement DRM technology, which defines and often restricts users’ level of access to digital content. In part 1 of this two-part article, the E-Commerce Times explored the uptake and ramifications of DRM in the consumer market.

However, the consumer sector is not the only promising venue for this technology. In an increasingly networked age, corporate data often can be accessed and distributed via the Internet without a company’s knowledge or consent, potentially causing great harm. Therefore, as enterprise security needs increase, DRM is making inroads in business as well, providing corporations with a way to regain control of their information.

“Organizations are becoming a lot more interested in protecting certain kinds of organizational intellectual property from view and distribution by nonauthorized individuals, and also in monitoring the use of intellectual property by the enterprise’s constituents,” Ray Wagner, research director for information securities strategies at Gartner, told the E-Commerce Times.

Likewise, IDC research director Joshua Duhl said, “The reason [enterprises] use DRM is not to protect commerce so much as to protect confidentiality, privacy and security of sensitive information.”

Enterprise DRM also can give executives greater ability to monitor and audit information. For example, VeriSign principal scientist Thomas Hardjono told the E-Commerce Times, say a company’s CEO has a sensitive document he wants to distribute. He decides the document should be sent only to upper management. They should be able to view and change it, but not distribute it. DRM would allow the CEO to place these severe restrictions on the document.

Legal Motivations

New legal requirements are motivating greater DRM adoption in the enterprise, too. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, for example, which was passed in response to accounting scandals after the dot-com boom, requires publicly traded companies to gain control of and not alter certain documents that are part of federal investigations, and even to hold on to instant messages for several years. Another law, California Senate Bill 1386 (which applies to all companies doing business in California), requires companies to notify customers whenever their personal information has been misappropriated (by a hacker, for instance). And the Privacy Rule of the Health Portability and Accountability Act, which went into effect in 2001, protects individuals’ medical records.

These and other recent laws that deal with data privacy and security have increased companies’ interest in DRM as a way to meet new, more stringent requirements.

As Gartner’s Wagner noted, “If you’re under Sarbanes-Oxley, you have to have a consistent process for creating financial information, and you never want financial information to be released prematurely.”

Microsoft Legitimacy

Software titan Microsoft also is driving interest in enterprise DRM. The company plans to become more heavily involved in this technology via Microsoft Windows Rights Management Services, a security offering for Windows Server 2003 that is slated to launch later this year. It will be able to enforce corporate data protection policies by controlling which users can access specific content and which access rights they are granted. Using this service, companies will be able to restrict copying, forwarding and printing, among other tasks, according to Microsoft.

The company’s announcement, IDC’s Duhl told the E-Commerce Times, “basically legitimized the need for digital rights management within the enterprise.”

Of course, Microsoft is not the only company to view enterprise DRM as a promising market. Liquid Machines, SealedMedia and Authentica also are in the hunt.

Growth Market

Although enterprise DRM adoption is only beginning to gear up, the future looks bright. IDC expects the DRM market will grow rapidly over the next several years. In fact, the research firm has predicted that across all segments of this market, revenues should climb from US$96 million in 2000 to $3.57 billion in 2005. As a study Duhl co-authored noted, “Within a few years, DRM will be a pervasive and necessary technology that will become a permanent, integral part of corporate and Internet infrastructure.”

The study also stated that rather than being confined to PCs, as it is today, DRM likely will be integrated with a large number of hardware devices, such as handhelds, phones and set-top boxes, as well as software products used for content creation, storage, distribution and rendering.

In short, DRM will be everywhere. Is the world ready?

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