Ruth Suehle constructed a fantastic DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music.
Digital rights management or DRM is a method for controlling access to various digital media including music, movies, and software. The “rights” being managed are those of content creators to a lesser extent and of content distributors to a greater extent. As Suehle’s timeline demonstrates, DRM systems often bite the dust, because users overwhelmingly demand their own rights to purchased media. One of the most important rights is transferability, or using media on a digital device or computer of one’s choosing. The trouble with many DRM systems is that transferability is difficult or impossible, because content controllers and distributors begin with the tacit assumption that all content consumers are not to be trusted. The assumption that most DRM systems are based on is that users will “steal” content or use purchased content in was unintended by the creators or distributors. This lack of respect and too much trouble imposed by most DRM systems lead consumers to find new channels for content distribution that are less restricting and more respectful.