Information Control: Prevent Copying & Control Usage
Prevent copying and control use of information with DRM
Information control sounds like something out of George Orwell’s 1984 – maybe there’s a special Ministry for it? The Ministry for Newspeak dealt with words and vocabulary, they made sure that there were no negative words or thoughts (perhaps they have jobs in PR?).
But when we talk about information control we don’t think of something quite so Orwellian. Information control is about allowing those who have appropriate authority access to and use of information on the basis of the authority that they hold.
It is true that governments, the military, spies and security agencies all impose information control on the information that they hold. Some countries also have ‘freedom of information’ acts that allow the public (and the press, of course) access to information in order to maintain the transparency of government and to prevent the possibility of creating the worst excesses of totalitarian states – actions can be hidden from the public and due legal process.
However, a far larger requirement for information control comes from commerce, industry and Copyright owners in general. But this is not the governmental inspiration for information control. Some of it is about keeping secrets inside a business, and some of it is about selling IPR to those prepared to purchase it.
So what we are interested in is commercial information control. What is it, and how can it be readily implemented so that controls are efficient, effective and effortless (the three Es of information control).
If there is no information control, then there is information anarchy. Information is up for grabs, and anyone has the ‘right’ to see and use anything, anywhere, anytime (maybe the three As of information anarchy?).
To implement information control you need to implement both encryption and digital rights management (DRM), without which there is no actual control over the use of the information that is being provided. The information control you apply has to survive a file being processed, read, copied and saved. If it does not then there is no actual information control at all, because the first authorized recipient of the information can ignore your intentions and implement their own view of the world. And that might not sit too comfortably with your own commercial constraints and demands.
After all, a book publisher is not going to be too happy if no-one has to buy their book because it’s already freely available on the Internet. That’s freedom of information taken a bit further than even the politicians can readily live with.
Information control does not, however, mean absolute control of that information forever. You can apply information control to a secret, but then you cannot invoke any of the rules of copyright for its protection or the control of that information if you have failed to control it. It’s an either or situation.
Even if you do claim copyright control, it does not last forever. In many jurisdictions rights exist that allow people to read information for private study, to quote small amounts of it, to criticize it or to make a parody of it. So you cannot expect information control to be absolute, or that it will last forever. As the Psalmist said, “Nothing lasts forever”. But some information control is a lot better than none.