Digital Rights Management

I’m very passionate about copyright, piracy,geoblocking, etc, but another one that bugs me is buying digital media that is then tied to a piece of software or hardware for as long as you want to use that media. These can include:

  • movies from the Apple store where you have to use iTunes. Even worse, if you want the audio in HD, you need to use either an iPad or Apple TV. iTunes on a PC is not good enough.
  • magazine subscriptions that require an iPad
  • books that can only be viewed through Booktopia or Kindle apps.If you have a different brand of ereader (a Sony or Kobo for example…), they’re not accessible.

I’m sure there are others, but they’re all I can think of at the moment. Of course, a savvy user will know ways to crack the DRM, but that is against the law as well. I don’t know what the solution is, but the idea that I’m stuck with buying new iPads for the rest of my life if I want to keep my investment in digital media is a little hard to stomach!


I hear ya, @simulations.

I’m an apple fan but being held to its devices, OS & apps isn’t ideal.
The fact you don’t actually own all your iTunes purchases bothers me too. Remember when Bruce Willis wanted to bequeath his iTunes library to his kids? No go!

And it could be my ignorance, but it seems you can only ever stream iTunes movies & TV shows so if I’m travelling and on a crap connection it’s inconvenient to say the least. Or is there a way to d/l these?

Ugh, yes! I recently discovered this when I was trying to watch Beyonce’s visual album Lemonde during my commute. I typically read on the trains and I had assumed that content I bought was downloaded, but here it was streaming (badly).

May I add to this that I believe that once I have bought a CD or DVD, I should be able to LEGALLY copy it to any of my devices and watch it there.

I may not wish to listen/watch on the format I bought it. For example & may wish to use my smart phone instead of a CD/DVD player, or back it up on my computer so I keep the original disc in good order.

I can understand that there might be concern about distributing content, but I’ve bought it haven’t I & I’m not distributing it? I just want to use it at my convenience in the manner of my choosing.

I think that I have read that to make a copy like this may not be legal. It should be!

There have been some attempts to accommodate this, but they haven’t been executed very well. The best example I can think of UltraViolet. This is a cloud-based digital rights locker. If you buy, for example, an UltraViolet movie in digital format, you can access it on any device. If you buy a hard copy, it also gives you access to the digital formats. It sounds good in theory, but some major players such as Amazon, Disney, Google, and iTunes don’t support it and, for the digital content, it’s all streaming.

For most things - like watching a movie on a Friday night - some of the digital rights limitations are Ok. But not when they cost as much as say, renting a DVD and give you an inferior product. On a DVD I used to get a DTS sound track, extras and good picture quality.

Now most of the services give you only a SD image, not the full sound track + all the digital rights limitations - for the same price. It is just not equitable, the inferior product should be cheaper.

No wonder people resort to other means.

I am sure if the digital versions were cheap and easy to get hold of, the pirate industry would dry up tomorrow. I would be happy to pay $3 for an everyday movie and $5 for a HD blockbuster with a good sound track but $5 for an interior product - that stinks.

If you look at the line containing the movie in iTunes you should see a cloud with a downward arrow. Click on this cloud and it will download the movie too your device and can be watched while offline. Hope this helps.


In my view digital rights management is in some ways reasonable, because you don’t actually own the copy but have a licence to view it and the artists should be properly remunerated. I have been caught out with the iCloud maintaining the copy so now I always down load to be available offline. But what really annoys me is the DVD region zoning where buying a DVD in Europe means you cannot play it on a DVD player in Australia (unless you hack the controls), or vice versa. There are some DVDs that are only available in regions 1 and 2 and not for Australia (region 4). I dont understand this - how does this affect the profits of the companies? I think this explains why Australia has one of the largest illegal movie downloads (piracy) in the world.

Has anyone seen the latest Kellogg’s promotion? If you purchase x amount of products you get a free digital family movie. What it doesn’t mention on the pack is that you can only watch the movie via online streaming and for PC users they have to have a Google account in order to be able to watch it in a web browser. Not many families want to be huddled around a laptop screen, or ipad tablet for a family movie night. Plus it uses internet data every time someone wants to watch it. A little fine print to warn about this would be nice. A single digital download option would have been better. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to livestream a full length movie. Some have data speeds that just can’t cope with watching video footage as it comes in and will find the movie’s forever buffering on them.

I have just come back to this topic @doctorlighthouse, so apologies for the time gap.

I disagree with the concept of not owning a copy of a digital product that I have purchased outright. If I buy anything except digital media I own it. Imagine paying outright for a car, house, whitegoods, etc., but then being told in the fine print that you only having a licence to use it, and are not allowed to sell it.

If you don’t actually own the copy of digital media, then it should be called rental or leasing. If that is what is is happening, why not call it that? Also, why should we be paying purchase price to own it? We should be paying a considerably reduced fee.

If you buy a hard copy of a print product such as a book, you own it. Why would a digital copy of that same book be any different? What about other digital media such as software (bought outright), music or a movie; why should that be any different?

If I have paid for it outright, I believe I own that copy outright without limitations. If I subscribe, I have a licence to use it for a period of time.

The concept of owning the copy is not strictly correct, as @doctorlighthouse advised above, you really only own a license to use the product copy in the way that the agreement you have consented to allows until the copyright on that product ceases at which time you are free to do with it as you wish. Mostly you only ever buy a license to use the digital product, this license is generally for your lifetime. The ownership of the actual product remains with the copyright owner. When you purchase the license you are given certain rights, these may include the ability to re-sell, gift, copy, play, view and so on but you never own the original product. When you purchase from ITunes, Amazon, Microsoft, Corel or any other producer/on-seller of digital products part of the EULA (End User License Agreement) you make is about your usage of the material you have purchased the license for.

Why is a hard copy of a book different? Well it isn’t, you don’t always have the right to sell a book you have purchased in any way you choose. If, for instance, the book is only intended to be sold in the Australian market and it is stipulated in the book then you are bound by that when you purchase it and therefore are not entitled to sell that book outside of Australia. You may very well sell it outside of Australia but legally you have broken the contract. There are normally other limitations on the use of your book some of them being, you cannot reproduce it in any other format/s, you cannot legally make multiple copies and sell them, though to do this illegally would probably be expensive to do so it is not something someone would normally consider doing.

The ability for someone to sell a digital product multiple times without proper recompense to the owner of the work is very easy to achieve. Someone may purchase/pirate one licensed copy and sell 10, 100, 1000, or more copies to others with very little effort or expense, in so doing they will have stolen the income that the owner is legally entitled to. So they, the Copyright owners, generally only allow the use of the digital product in their license not the selling or copying on to others.

Some digital products eg Adobe Acrobat (full product not the reader) do allow you to sell/gift it to others but when you do sell/gift it part of your license obligation may be as in this example advise Adobe who the new user is, to completely remove the product from your device/s and to make sure the purchaser/giftee understands and agrees that they have a license to use the product only in the way the license allows, and if they don’t agree then they cannot use the product.

Some Licenses are more free than others and particularly those under GNU GPL (GNU General Public License) licenses allow free and unfettered copying, modification and selling. For more about free and not so free licenses see:

Back on Digital Rights management and DVDs, I am currently working in Europe and was considering “purchasing” a DVD to watch on my computer. But then I realised I am unable to do so because I am an Australian and purchased my computer in Australia. It has a DVD reader that is set to region 4 (and is now fixed at that). But I cannot purchase region 4 DVDs in Europe and the European region 2 wont play on my computer. So in this case the digital rights control is not just about obtaining a licence to view the product but its about controlling where you purchased your player (which YOU own). So my option is now to spend more money and purchase a region 2 compatible DVD player. But if I take that and the DVD back to Australia does that now make me in violation of the digital rights? Does this mean just changing my location on the surface of the Earth violates the agreement, even though I have paid for a licence? Can I get my money back or exchange the region 2 DVD (which I don’t own but only have rights to watch) for a region 4 compatible one? I seriously doubt it - imagine walking into a DVD store in Australia and asking for an exchange! I don’t think the “rights to watch” is really for the customer but really about controlling profits for the companies. In my view the licence to view is a legal sham - the reality is everyone treats the DVD as something you have purchased, otherwise you should be able to exchange a well-used damaged DVD for a new one with the same content. Its a good thing the car industry hasn’t caught on to region-specific cars. Imagine everytime you drove across the border your car would cease to function and you would have to purchase/lease another or face a fine, arrest or imprisonment!

1 Like

I agree @doctorlighthouse, EULAs (End User Licence Agreements for those who don’t know) and region codes are about the publishers controlling distribution and maximizing their profits. That is why we pay more in Oz for digital products than they do elsewhere.

My dream is that one day our government will grow some fortitude :laughing::joy: and legislate against regional controls & geo-blocking as restriction of trade and access.

We purchased a region free dvd/blu-ray player from JB HiFi for $99. No more region locked problems for us.

I try to avoid digital content. I like to see CD, DVD and BluRay covers on the shelves, plus I don’t need to use the internet to access any of it.