DRM Survey suggests students lack awareness of DRM

This entry was written in response to the Research Blogging Assignment for Stanford’s Winter 2009 Technology & Identity class. To learn more about the assignment, visit this blog post. You can leave a comment on this post by clicking on the “comment” link below.

Digital Rights Management are a group of technologies and means in which corporate software companies impose restrictions on to the end user (the user of the software) by extending the intellectual property rights of the owners. These technologies are taking away the users rights, effectively controlling the end user as to what they can do to their purchased property. Thus, in researching the methods by which these corporate software companies attempt at stealing away users rights, I have created a survey to get a sense of the awareness people have towards DRM and its issues.

There are six questions in the survey:
1. Have you heard of DRM?
2. Do you know what DRM is and what does DRM stand for?
3. What is the use of the End User License Agreement *EULA)?
4. Have you read the EULA in its entirety?
5. Have you heard of or do you use open source software?
6. If yes, please state two examples of open source software.

Digital Rights Management are a group of technologies and means in which corporate software companies impose restrictions on to the end user (the user of the software) by extending the intellectual property rights of the owners. These technologies are taking away the users rights, effectively controlling the end user as to what they can do to their purchased property. Thus, in researching the methods by which these corporate software companies attempt at stealing away users rights, I have created a survey to get a sense of the awareness people have towards DRM and its issues.

There are six questions in the survey:
1. Have you heard of DRM?
2. Do you know what DRM is and what does DRM stand for?
3. What is the use of the End User License Agreement *EULA)?
4. Have you read the EULA in its entirety?
5. Have you heard of or do you use open source software?
6. If yes, please state two examples of open source software.
Although the questions are simple enough, this will give me an idea of how much people are aware of DRM and its issues.I chose to survey Stanford students as they are part of the younger generations that are heavily dependent on various software and technological devices (mp3 players, cell phones, etc), and for the fact they they come from various geographic locations of the United States and the world, which can give me an insight onto the overall awareness of DRM in the U.S. It is also relevant to ask these questions since DRM issues directly affect them through the software and technology devices they use.

To date, I have surveyed approximately 100 students of Stanford University. Preliminary analysis of this data shows that most Stanford students are unaware of what DRM is , the controversies surrounding DRM, and that their right to choose, privacy, and security may have been compromised due to DRM. I also asked the students whether they knew what the EULA was and whether they had read it in its entirety since this is the contract between the software producer and the end user, that allows for the DRM to take place. The EULA of many corporate software companies, such as Apple and Microsoft, vaguely and broadly, state in the contract a clause that allows for privacy invasion and installation of unwanted DRM software. However, reading the EULA may not suffice in becoming aware of DRM, since most of it written very vaguely. The survey also questioned whether the students knew of open source software because these software’s can be used as an alternative to many popular software applications that are full of DRM technologies, and it can be seen as a solution to DRM.

Corporate companies exploit the fact that the end users are unaware of their DRM and use it to their advantage to implement more DRM upon the users. If people are not aware of the methods that these corporations establish as “antipiracy” measures, more of the peoples rights will be limited

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3 Responses to DRM Survey suggests students lack awareness of DRM

  1. Jessica S says:

    Hey Diego!

    First of all, this is a really engaging topic. I, personally, did not know what DRM was/is or what EULA even stood for until your presentation!

    I think that using a survey is a wise decision, especially on this campus, since you would think people would be more informed about some of these things since we deal with digital media/software/programs on a daily basis.

    I remember that when I was younger and I first began using the computer and exploring different programs, I was so scared of installing them because of viruses, that I would read the license agreement in its entirety, word for word. But slowly, with time, I guess I gained confidence, and stopped reading them. Now, I glance through it, mostly to make sure that they’re not putting some hidden charges or something.

    I think that this survey and your research is going to produce some great results.

    Jess

  2. David Tobin says:

    It’s great that you were able to get out a survey to so many people. I’m curious what the responses of the people who did know about DRM were like. It seems like anyone who knows about DRM software is furious at the companies that use it.

    I wonder if there are any reasonable, beneficial uses for DRM technologies. I don’t want to assume too much about your position on the issue, but I get the impression that you’re in favor of complete user freedom. Have you been able to find opposing viewpoints that don’t come directly from companies?

    The open source connection is an interesting direction to take your research. I use a variety of open source software, since I’m accustomed to not paying for or having use-restrictions on the software I use. I wonder if people our age are much more likely to be opposed to DRM.

  3. Mingyu Kim says:

    It’s great that you already got over 100 survey data. I’m pretty sure that this topic is interesting enough to lead you to an interesting research.
    I personally have never read EULA. I found it interesting that Apple sued some company for allowing to use Mac OS on non-Mac computer. However, it is too mean to sue only with EULA since it’s too long to read and in fact almost no one reads it.
    I think you can criticize such sues based on EULA.
    Good luck on your research.

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