The term digital rights describes the human rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, or communications networks. The term is particularly related to the protection and realization of existing rights, such as the right to privacy or freedom of expression, in the context of new digital technologies, especially the Internet. Right to Internet access is recognized as a right by the laws of several countries.
A number of human rights have been identified as relevant with regard to the Internet. These include freedom of expression, data protection and privacy and freedom of association. Furthermore, the right to education and multilingualism, consumer rights, and capacity building in the context of the right to development have also been identified.
With repressive regimes restricting access to information and communications, democratic governments should work to guarantee access to the Internet and adopt general principles to ensure network use respects universal human rights said an editorial in La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican before publication.
"What the law permits or prohibits offline must also be the case online," said the editorial released Nov. 17.
The "only widespread international consensus" on online material to be censored regards child pornography and cyberterrorism, the article said.
The Jesuit journal said that with individuals abusing the freedom of expression, with companies potentially exploiting computer users for financial gain and repressive regimes blocking information from their citizens, the world needs a "Charter of Human Rights for the Internet".
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized the United States government for considering during the Megaupload seizure process that people lose property rights by storing data on a cloud computing service.
Several countries have adopted laws that require the state to work to ensure that Internet access is broadly available and/or preventing the state from unreasonably restricting an individual's access to information and the Internet:
The APC Internet Rights Charter was established by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) at the APC Europe Internet Rights Workshop, held in Prague, February 2001. The Charter draws on the People's Communications Charter and develops seven themes: internet access for all; freedom of expression and association; access to knowledge, shared learning and creation - free and open source software and technology development; privacy, surveillance and encryption; governance of the internet; awareness, protection and realization of rights. The APC states that "the ability to share information and communicate freely using the internet is vital to the realisation of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women."
In December 2003 the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was convened under the auspice of the United Nations (UN). After lengthy negotiations between governments, businesses and civil society representatives the WSIS Declaration of Principles was adopted reaffirming human rights:
"We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen the rule of law in international as in national affairs
"We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information Society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits of the Information Society offers."
The 2004 WSIS Declaration of Principles also acknowledged that "it is necessary to prevent the use of information resources and technologies for criminal and terrorist purposes, while respecting human rights." Wolfgang Benedek comments that the WSIS Declaration only contains a number of references to human rights and does not spell out any procedures or mechanism to assure that human rights are considered in practice.
In 2005, the United Kingdom's Open Rights Group published a digital rights landscape, documenting the range of organizations and people active in the cause of preserving digital rights. The diagram related groups, individuals, and websites to interest areas.
The Dynamic Coalition for an Internet Bill of Rights held a large preparatory Dialogue Forum on Internet Rights in Rome, September 2007 and presented its ideas at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio in November 2007 leading to a joint declaration on internet rights.  At the IGF in Hyderabad in 2008 a merger between the Dynamic Coalitions on Human Rights for the Internet and on Principles for the Internet let to the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles, which based on the APC Internet Rights Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights elaborated the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet presented at the IGF in Vilnius in 2010 (www.internetrightsandprinciples.org), which since has been translated into several languages.
On October 29, 2008 the Global Network Initiative (GNI) was founded upon its "Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy". The Initiative was launched in the 60th Anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights on freedom of expression and privacy set out in the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Participants in the Initiative include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, other major companies, human rights NGOs, investors, and academics.
According to reports Cisco Systems was invited to the initial discussions but didn't take part in the initiative. Harrington Investments, which proposed that Cisco establish a human rights board, has dismissed the GNI as a voluntary code of conduct having any impact. Chief executive John Harrington called the GNI "meaningless noise" and instead calls for bylaws to be introduced that force boards of directors to accept human rights responsibilities.
A poll of 27,973 adults in 26 countries, including 14,306 Internet users, was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan using telephone and in-person interviews between 30 November 2009 and 7 February 2010. GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller felt, overall, that the poll showed that:
Findings from the poll include:
The 88 recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in a May 2011 report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly include several that bear on the question of Internet access:
In July and August 2012 the Internet Society conducted online interviews of more than 10,000 Internet users in 20 countries. Some of the results relevant to Digital rights and Internet access are summarized below.
|Question||No. of Responses||Responses|
|Access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right.||10,789||83% somewhat or strongly agree,|
14% somewhat or strongly disagree,
3% don't know
|Each individual country has the right to govern the Internet the way they see fit.||10,789||67% somewhat or strongly agree,|
29% somewhat or strongly disagree,
4% don't know /not applicable
|The Internet does more to help society than it does to hurt it.||10,789||83% somewhat or strongly agree,|
13% somewhat or strongly disagree,
4% don't know / not applicable
|Increased government control of the Internet would make me use the Internet less.||9,717||57% somewhat or strongly agree,|
39% somewhat or strongly disagree,
5% don't know / not applicable
|Increased government control of the Internet would increase the number of users.||9,717||40% somewhat or strongly agree,|
52% somewhat or strongly disagree,
8% don't know / not applicable
|Governments need to place a higher priority on expanding the Internet and its benefits in my country.||10,789||83% somewhat or strongly agree,|
11% somewhat or strongly disagree,
5% don't know / not applicable
|For the Internet to reach its full potential in my country people need to be able to access the Internet without data and content restrictions.||10,789||79% somewhat or strongly agree,|
17% somewhat or strongly disagree,
4% don't know / not applicable
Adobe Digital Editions (abbreviated ADE) is an ebook reader software program from Adobe Systems, built initially (1.x version) using Adobe Flash. It is used for acquiring, managing, and reading eBooks, digital newspapers, and other digital publications. The software supports PDF, XHTML (through the nonproprietary EPUB file type specification) and Flash-based content. It implements a proprietary scheme of Digital Rights Management ("DRM") which, since the version 1.5 release in May 2008, allows document sharing among multiple devices and user authentication via an Adobe ID. ADE is a successor to Adobe eBook Reader.Windows and OS X versions of Adobe Digital Editions were released on June 19, 2007. Previous versions of the software required version 9.0 of Adobe Flash Player. Starting with version 2.0, however, which relies on .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows, Flash Player is no longer supported. Adobe initiated development of a Linux version of ADE in 2007; however, this has not had any beta release or any formal updates.Advanced Systems Format
Advanced Systems Format (formerly Advanced Streaming Format, Active Streaming Format) is Microsoft's proprietary digital audio/digital video container format, especially meant for streaming media. ASF is part of the Media Foundation framework.DVD region code
DVD (digital versatile disc) region codes are a digital rights management technique designed to allow rights holders to control the international distribution of a DVD release, including its content, release date, and price, all according to the appropriate region.
This is achieved by way of region-locked DVD players, which will play back only DVDs encoded to their region (plus those without any region code). The American DVD Copy Control Association also requires that DVD player manufacturers incorporate the regional-playback control (RPC) system. However, region-free DVD players, which ignore region coding, are also commercially available, and many DVD players can be modified to be region-free, allowing playback of all discs.DVDs may use one code, a combination of codes (multi-region), every code (all region) or no codes (region free).Defective by Design
Defective by Design is an anti-DRM initiative by the Free Software Foundation. DRM technology, known as "digital rights management" technology by its supporters, restricts users' ability to freely use their purchased movies, music, literature, software, and hardware in ways they are accustomed to with ordinary non-restricted media (such as books and audio compact discs). As a result, DRM has been described as "digital restrictions management" or "digital restrictions mechanisms" by opponents.The philosophy of the initiative is that DRM is designed to be deliberately defective, to restrict the use of the product. This, they claim, cripples the future of digital freedom. The group aims to target "Big Media, unhelpful manufacturers, and DRM distributors" and to bring public awareness of the issue and increase participation in the initiative. It represents one of the first efforts of the Free Software Foundation to find common cause with mainstream social activists, and to encourage free software advocates to become socially involved. As of late 2006, the campaign was claiming over 12,000 registered members.In August 2018, GOG created an anti-DRM program called "FCK DRM". The homepage of the initiative offers links to the websites of Defective by Design, the EFF, Bandcamp, itch.io, Wikisource, Project Gutenberg and other projects that promote free software and free culture.Digital distribution
Digital distribution (also referred to as content delivery, online distribution, or electronic software distribution (ESD), among others) is the delivery or distribution of digital media content such as audio, video, software and video games. The term is generally used to describe distribution over an online delivery medium, such as the Internet, thus bypassing physical distribution methods, such as paper, optical discs, and VHS videocassettes. The term online distribution is typically applied to freestanding products; downloadable add-ons for other products are more commonly known as downloadable content. With the advancement of network bandwidth capabilities, online distribution became prominent in the 21st century.
Content distributed online may be streamed or downloaded, and often consists of books, films and television programs, music, software, and video games. Streaming involves downloading and using content at a user's request, or "on-demand", rather than allowing a user to store it permanently. In contrast, fully downloading content to a hard drive or other form of storage media may allow offline access in the future.
Specialist networks known as content delivery networks help distribute content over the Internet by ensuring both high availability and high performance. Alternative technologies for content delivery include peer-to-peer file sharing technologies. Alternatively, content delivery platforms create and syndicate content remotely, acting like hosted content management systems.
However, the term is also used in film distribution to describe distribution of content through physical media, in opposition to distribution by analog media such as photographic film and magnetic tape (see digital cinema).Digital rights management
Digital rights management (DRM) is a set of access control technologies for restricting the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies.The use of digital rights management is not universally accepted. Proponents of DRM argue that it is necessary to prevent intellectual property from being copied freely, just as physical locks are needed to prevent personal property from being stolen, that it can help the copyright holder maintain artistic control, and that it can ensure continued revenue streams. Those opposed to DRM contend there is no evidence that DRM helps prevent copyright infringement, arguing instead that it serves only to inconvenience legitimate customers, and that DRM helps big business stifle innovation and competition. Furthermore, works can become permanently inaccessible if the DRM scheme changes or if the service is discontinued. DRM can also restrict users from exercising their legal rights under the copyright law, such as backing up copies of CDs or DVDs (instead having to buy another copy, if it can still be purchased), lending materials out through a library, accessing works in the public domain, or using copyrighted materials for research and education under the fair use doctrine. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) consider the use of DRM systems to be an anti-competitive practice.Worldwide, many laws have been created which criminalize the circumvention of DRM, communication about such circumvention, and the creation and distribution of tools used for such circumvention. Such laws are part of the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the European Union's Copyright Directive, (the French DADVSI is an example of a member state of the European Union ("EU") implementing the directive).Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed in July, 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.
EFF provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amicus curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers abusive legal threats, works to expose government malfeasance, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and web sites of related news and information, monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and fair use and solicits a list of what it considers abusive patents with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.
EFF also provides tips, tools, how-tos, tutorials, and software for safer online communications.European Digital Rights
European Digital Rights (EDRi) is an international advocacy group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. EDRi was founded in June 2002 in Berlin by ten NGOs from seven countries. In March 2015, the European Council adopted a proposal that may compromise net neutrality, a major concern of EDRi.Hardware restriction
A hardware restriction (sometimes called hardware DRM) is content protection enforced by electronic components. The hardware restriction scheme may complement a digital rights management system implemented in software. Some examples of hardware restriction information appliances are video game consoles, smartphones, tablet computers, Macintosh computers and personal computers that implement secure boot.MPEG-21
The MPEG-21 standard, from the Moving Picture Experts Group, aims at defining an open framework for multimedia applications. MPEG-21 is ratified in the standards ISO/IEC 21000 - Multimedia framework (MPEG-21).MPEG-21 is based on two essential concepts:
definition of a Digital Item (a fundamental unit of distribution and transaction)
users interacting with Digital ItemsDigital Items can be considered the kernel of the Multimedia Framework and the users can be considered as who interacts with them inside the Multimedia Framework. At its most basic level, MPEG-21 provides a framework in which one user interacts with another one, and the object of that interaction is a Digital Item. Due to that, we could say that the main objective of the MPEG-21 is to define the technology needed to support users to exchange, access, consume, trade or manipulate Digital Items in an efficient and transparent way.
MPEG-21 Part 9: File Format defined the storage of an MPEG-21 Digital Item in a file format based on the ISO base media file format, with some or all of Digital Item's ancillary data (such as movies, images or other non-XML data) within the same file. It uses filename extensions .m21 or .mp21 and MIME type application/mp21.NOYB
NOYB – European Center for Digital Rights (from "none of your business") is a non-profit organization based in Vienna, Austria established in 2017. Co-founded by Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems, NOYB aims to launch strategic court cases and media initiatives in support of the General Data Protection Regulation, the proposed ePrivacy Regulation, and information privacy in general. While many privacy organisations focus attention on governments, NOYB puts its focus on privacy issues and privacy violations in the private sector.
Soon after General Data Protection Regulation rules went into effect on 25 May 2018, noyb filed complaints against Facebook and subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as Google LLC (targeting Android), for allegedly violating Article 7(4) by attempting to completely block use of their services if users decline to accept all data processing consents, in a bundled grant which also includes consents deemed unnecessary to use the service.Napster (streaming music service)
Napster, known as Rhapsody prior to June 14, 2016, is an online music store subscription service based in Seattle, Washington. On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody relaunched as a standalone company, separate from former parent RealNetworks. Downloaded files come with restrictions on their use, enforced by Helix, Rhapsody's version of digital rights management enforced on AAC+ or WMA files. In the past, the service also sold individual MP3s without digital rights management restrictions.Open Rights Group
The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues and by fostering a community of grassroots activists. It campaigns on numerous issues including mass surveillance, internet filtering and censorship, and intellectual property rights.Origin (digital distribution software)
Origin is an online gaming, digital distribution and digital rights management (DRM) platform developed by Electronic Arts that allows users to purchase games for PC and mobile platforms. A macOS client was released on February 8, 2013.Origin contains social features such as profile management, networking with friends with chat and direct game joining along with an in-game overlay, streaming via TwitchTV and sharing of game library and community integration with networking sites like Facebook, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo Network. In 2011, Electronic Arts stated that it wanted Origin to match Valve Corporation's Steam service, Origin's primary competitor, by adding cloud game saves, auto-patching, achievements, and cross-platform releases. By 2013, Origin had over 50 million registered users.Protected Media Path
The Protected Media Path is a set of technologies creating a "Protected Environment," first included in Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, that is used to enforce digital rights management (or DRM) protections on content.
Its subsets are Protected Video Path (PVP) and Protected User Mode Audio (PUMA). Any application that uses Protected Media Path in Windows uses Media Foundation.Stardock Central
Stardock Central was a software content delivery and digital rights management system used by Stardock customers to access components of the Object Desktop, TotalGaming.net and ThinkDesk product lines, as well as products under the WinCustomize brand.
Introduced in 2001 to access games on TotalGaming.net (then known as the Drengin Network), Stardock Central was later expanded to cover all Stardock products, replacing Component Manager (1999).
As of 2010, Stardock Central had been phased out in favour of its successor, Impulse. However, in March 2011 Impulse was sold to GameStop and Stardock soon reopened their own online store. As of April 2012, the Stardock Central software has been revived and released as a Beta to once again provide a proprietary platform for Stardock's digital product downloads.Television encryption
Television encryption, often referred to as "scrambling", is encryption used to control access to pay television services, usually cable or satellite television services.Triton (content delivery)
Triton was a digital delivery and digital rights management service created by Digital Interactive Streams, which abruptly went out of business in early October 2006.
Triton was a new competitor in the rapidly growing market for electronic distribution of video games. Triton was being used to serve budget-oriented games from such publishers as Strategy First and Global Star Software, and was most known for distributing Prey.Windows Media Video
Windows Media Video (WMV) is a series of video codecs and their corresponding video coding formats developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Windows Media framework. WMV consists of three distinct codecs: The original video compression technology known as WMV, was originally designed for Internet streaming applications, as a competitor to RealVideo. The other compression technologies, WMV Screen and WMV Image, cater for specialized content. After standardization by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), WMV version 9 was adapted for physical-delivery formats such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc and became known as VC-1. Microsoft also developed a digital container format called Advanced Systems Format to store video encoded by Windows Media Video.