Digital Rights Management

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG089
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1983-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : -
Industry : -
Countries : Worldwide

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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“DRM is bad for society because it attempts to monitor what we do and how we live our digital lives. It is asking us to give up control of something which gives us some degree of democracy, freedom and the ability to communicate with a large group of people.”1

- Peter Brown, Executive Director, Free Software,2 in December 2007.

“We need interoperable DRM products that allow people to never feel the walls (of security).”3

- Ted Cohen, Senior Vice President of Digital Development and Distribution,4 EMI Group, in 2002.


In January 2008, Apple Inc. (Apple)5 launched the iTunes Movie Rental service through the iTunes Store6. The service allowed customers to download movies in standard definition (SD) as well as in high definition (HD)7.

All new movies were to be available for download after 30 days of their DVD release. While the new service was welcomed by most customers, there was criticism about the time-based Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies that the service employed.

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1] Darren Waters, “'Digital Locks'Future Questioned,”, December 10, 2007.
2] The Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded in 1985. It was headquartered in Boston, MA, USA. The FSF worked towards promoting computer users'freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users (Source:
3] Brad King, “Digital Rights Outlook,”, 2002.
4] EMI Group, founded in 1931, was a British music company comprising a major record company called EMI Music, which operated several other labels like Angel, Astralwerks, Blue Note, Virgin, etc. (Source:
5] Apple Inc., founded in 1976, is a US-based computer hardware and software company. It is headquartered in California.
6] The iTunes Store is an online digital media store operated by Apple, Inc.
7] Standard Definition refers to picture resolution of up to 720x576 and High Definition refers to picture resolution of between 1024x768 and 3840x2160. At the iTunes Store, old titles in SD were priced $ 2.99, HD titles were priced $ 3.99; new titles were priced $1 more.


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