Legislation and Copyright Issues (DRM)

Learning Objectives

  • to understand the legislation and copyright issues which affect computer users and society.

Learning Outcomes

Must – be able to explain what each legislation means.

Should – include detailed examples of how people are affected by legislation and copyright.

Could – discuss the positive and negative impacts that legislation and copyright have on society.

What Legislation do I need to know?

Computer Misuse Act 1990

This was passed by Parliament and made three new offences:

  1. accessing computer material without permission, e.g. looking at someone else’s files
  2. accessing computer material without permission with intent to commit further criminal offences, e.g. hacking into the bank’s computer and wanting to increase the amount in your account
  3. altering computer data without permission, e.g. writing a virus to destroy someone else’s data, or actually changing the money in an account

Data Protection Act 1998

This was introduced to regulate personal data. This helps to provide protection against the abuse of personal information. Find out more about the Data Protection Act.

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

This Act was introduced to protect the investment of time, money and effort by the people who create original pieces of work.

This can mean authors of books, composers of music, the makers of a film, a computer game designer or a company that creates applications for smart phones.

They all invest a great deal of time and money to produce these things and quite rightly, their work belongs to them.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act has two main purposes:

1. To ensure people are rewarded for their endeavours

2. To give protection to the copyright holder if someone tries to copy or steal their work.

EU Cookie Law

What is a Cookie?

The EU Cookie Law is a directive from the European Union that restricts what information “cookies” can collect about people who visit a website.

EU Cookie Law

How do organisations protect themselves?

Site Licences and Licence Agreements (EULAs)

Organisations and Software Producers need policies and rules which specify how software, networks and computers are used to avoid potential misuse.  These are called Licence Agreements or End User Licence Agreements.  These agreements are a set of detailed rules which specify what a user can and can’t do on a network when using a computer.  In terms of software, they also say what the user can and cant do to the software.  The general rule of Licence agreements is that a computer or network should not be used for criminal, fraudulent or personal use during a person’s time on the premises.

A Site Licence is allocated to Software.  A Site Licence is a policy which dictates how many computers a piece of software can be installed on.  A school or a large organisation will have a Site Licence for software.  This works out a lot cheaper than purchasing individual copies.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Digital Rights Management or DRM is a form of security built into software and media disks that prevent the software/disk from being copied or redistributed without permission.  DRM exists in the following forms:

  • Product Keys – This is a key assigned to a piece of software that allows one activation only.  Once the product key has been activated it cannot be used again. Product Keys are often found on software programmes including Microsoft Office suite.
  • Limited Activation – This is a form of DRM that requires an activation server once the software is installed onto a device.  Once the limit is reached no more devices can be accessed to install the software.
  • Inbuilt Security – Optical disks included in built encryption that prevent disks from being copied without permission.

IP Filtering

IP Filtering prevents data from entering a network. One use of IP
filtering is to prevent access from certain locations.  An example of this is to restrict access to certain parts of the world to prevent them from watching on Demand and Catchup TV content.  In America, Fox deploys IP Filtering to stop users in the UK from watching on demand and catch up TV content such as popular programmes including The Walking Dead.  Similar TV companies deploy IP filtering to restrict access.


a) Create a set of notes relating to the Data Protection Act.  Explain the role of the Data Subject, the Data Processor and the Data Controller.

b) Explain why TV companies use IP Filtering.   Discuss the impact this has on the TV companies and TV viewers.

c) Ensure you have adequate revision notes about all the topics on this page.