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Digital rights management (DRM) is any technology used to limit the use of software, music, movies or other digital data.


DRM generally relies on some interaction between the media and the system that plays it. For example, video DVDs usually include a region code. If this does not match the player's region code, the player will refuse to play the disc.[1] More modern DRM methods encrypt downloaded media content that can only be played back with a key tied to the purchaser's account.[2]


An early version of DRM was used in the copy protection of commercial software published on floppy disks, such as video games.[3]

Apple Computer developed FairPlay DRM for AAC audio content sold through the iTunes Music Store, which opened in April 2003. This limited playback of the content to Apple devices owned by the original purchaser. Apple CEO Steve Jobs was able to convince major record companies to sell their music with a DRM free option, starting in 2009. FairPlay is also used to protect MP4 video content purchased through the iTunes Store. At the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple introduced specifications for FairPlay Streaming, allowing other platforms to use it to protect their streaming services.[4]


  1. Digital Rights Management at the Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing. 2006-02-02.
  2. The Incredibly Technical History of Digital Rights Management by Ernie Smith, Vice. 2017-10-19.
  3. How Digital Rights Management Works by Julia Layton, HowStuffWorks. 2006-01-03.
  4. What is FairPlay DRM? by Daniel Kim, PallyCon. 2019-09-02.

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