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Digital Rights Management: How Much Can Cryptography Help?



William E. Burr


Cryptography offers powerful techniques for data protection in classical communications applications. Claims are often made that some new technology will enable or make electronic publishing safe. This talk sounds a cautionary note, at least for large scale, controlled distribution of digital content to millions of consumers or subscribers. The essential difference is that both the sender and the receiver are trusted parties in a communications protocol (an attacker is a third party), but in Digital Rights Management (DRM) applications the consumer who receives the data is the likely attacker. This is a much more difficult problem. Cryptography may also offer small comfort to traditional intellectual property rights holders in the face of changing ethics and notions of property rights, and evolving business models, all of which are driven by new digital technologies.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings Digital Cinema 2001 (NISTIR 6591)
Conference Dates
January 1, 2001
Conference Title
Digital Cinema


cryptography, digital rights management, encryption, intellectual property, steganography


Burr, W. (2001), Digital Rights Management: How Much Can Cryptography Help?, Proceedings Digital Cinema 2001 (NISTIR 6591) (Accessed July 17, 2024)


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Created January 1, 2001, Updated February 17, 2017