DRM is a technology that protects content. But contrary to what some believe, DRM does not have to affect the experience of paying for a movie and watching it.

As far as property protection goes, DRM is just one of many technologies in common use today. Consider, for example, the experience of buying or renting a DVD. You make your selection, carry it to the cash register, pay for it and walk out. Although this is nothing remarkable, there are a number of security measures that you sail through in that scenario. For example, there was likely a security device attached to or integrated into the packaging. This was either removed at the point of sale, or de-activated in one of several ways. If you follow the normal check out process, you never notice it, but If you instead just walk out the door and bypass the cash register, you would most assuredly trigger a security system that would very much get in your way. Security tags are a non-intrusive security technology that is transparent to those that follow the societal norm of paying for what you get.

DRM can be just as transparent as the security tag on a DVD. In the age of electronic distribution, you should be able to make your selection, pay for it, and watch your movie. No problem, nothing to notice. The Internet age provides the means for consumers to acquire and collect content from any number of sources, and DRM provides the technology which enables you to only pay for movies you watch, regardless of how you got them. Certainly more convenient than running to the store to find that one last copy on the store shelf (or not). The Internet age provides the promise of no more “sold out” situations. What shouldn’t change in the Internet age is the cash register experience. You pay for what you watch. Nothing new there.

The business of selling and delivering movies online is growing considerably. Stepping up to this growing business, the various players, including the Hollywood studios, online retailers and consumer device manufacturers, are building a commercial ecosystem by which consumers can shop for content, pay for it and watch it without ever knowing that protection systems are in place.