Bruce Lawson’s personal site

True confessions: DRM solutions that I have implemented

It’s time to come clean. I have implemented two DRM “solutions” in my time, at the command of bosses.

The first was at the request of the organisation’s brand manager, who was understandably concerned that people would right-click the organisation’s logo on the website, download it and .. well, I’m not sure what. Make branded underwear with it and sell it to unsuspecting members of the public. Or other such nefarious plots.

I protested, of course. I reminded the brand manager that the UK has a brand-new framework called “the law” which made it illegal to take other people’s content or logos and pass them off as your own. I demonstrated how I could disable JavaScript, and download the image. I pointed out that with the Web Developer toolbar I could access all images on a page and download them. I showed how to use of the found-on-every-keyboard “Print Screen” key to add the image to the clipboard, which could then be imported into an image editing program, cropped and saved.

I was over-ruled, and implemented this elegant code.

The second “solution” was a happy side-effect of a CMS that the organisation had bought which didn’t actually facilitate editing of HTML content. Therefore, the “website” was actually an HTML scaffolding for the delivery of non-web content, with the words “download the attachment below” and a PDF hanging off each URL. The web team suggested offering a Word document in addition to the PDF (that’s what the PDF was made from, anyway) as a blind user found Word more accessible with her screenreader.

However, our organisation had a local network at work, whereby anyone could edit Word docs in shared areas. A senior member of the Exec team believed that the web was the same – someone could download and edit a Word doc from our website, maliciously amend it and re-save it back to the server. PDFs, of course, are uneditable. Hence, we allowed only PDFs, some of which were locked in order to protect the logo.

The fact that no illicit underpants with the organisation’s logo were ever discovered shows the infallibility of these DRM “solutions”.

One Response to “ True confessions: DRM solutions that I have implemented ”

Comment by Alex Russell

Playing devil’s advocate, the fact of a lack of maliciously-branded underpants says nothing for or against the “DRM”…only that it’s good you found a greener pasture = )

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