Digital rights management get a bad press. To most of us, as consumers of music or video it’s something which limits what we do. We can tell right from wrong, we don’t need stuff to limit us … right ?
Of course People who create “intellectual property” have a different view. And that’s not just record companies, it’s us with mail and documents. People do daft things with content. They send company confidential information to the outside world (in Microsoft lore there is the tale* of a message from Brian Valentine entitled “When I find out who you are I will come to your location and fire you myself” after one of his mails appeared on the Register.) They forward stuff to people who shouldn’t be included. I still recall telling my (then) manager about a customer situation and saying “part of the problem the way [their account manager] is handling the situation”. Various other people got added as the discussion of what to do rambled on, until finally someone added the account manager … ouch. Then Rights Management becomes your friend – it’s protecting what you say, your content – it has to be used with care: sending something with a flag of “This is serious, really not to be shared” which DRM implies is helpful, but “I don’t trust you.” isn’t. We already provide Windows Rights Management – though I’m surprised how few people use it. In Longhorn server it will be integrated with Active Directory
Whether we’re talking DRM for music, or Information rights Management for documents, the content is encrypted, and decoded by client software which allows the reader only to exercise only the rights they are given. (Which is why you don’t see Open source DRM software – people would quickly turn on all rights, regardless). Everything depends on the client – and that’s been the trouble with protected mail there hasn’t been the client support so it doesn’t work on a mobile devices. Until now that is but something magic has happened with Windows Mobile 6. Look at the left picture below.
So… Mobile 6 not only understands IRM, but it gives you instructions on how to use it on the device. Being on Vista I have the Windows Mobile Device Center, not running active sync, and you might go running to your version only to try to find this function is missing. You’ll have to guess whether the Right picture above is a mock-up or if I have been able to set my phone up with something internal. But either way the ability to do something like what you see on the right isn’t far away.
By the way the screen shots are made with Soti Pocket controller pro
* I was going to say – In the Lands of the North, where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale… they tell of a Man called Valentine who sent a great letter to all the people of the Northlands … I wonder how many people would get the reference without resorting to a search engine.