Information Rights Management (IRM): It’s not the same as DRM

Critical to business security and success, learn why Information Rights Management (IRM) focuses on end-to-end encryption and document protection.

29 July 2014


Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a rather ugly term, much maligned and contested. Its effects on copyright and security are a source of endless debate. While DRM encompasses everything related to the protection of proprietary files, it is not precisely relevant to the needs of the enterprise — even when these protections are referred to as Enterprise Digital Rights Management (E-DRM). The enterprise needs new, more pertinent terminology and technology, when it comes to protecting and sharing its most critical information.

Information Rights Management (IRM) concerns the protection of sensitive information for business purposes — typically documents and emails. While IRM is a part of DRM, DRM refers to consumer-facing rich media — namely film, music, and literature. It has very little to do with the types of documents and intellectual property created and shared within the enterprise.

IRM concentrates on these organizational needs, using end-to-end encryption as its armor, to manage individual permissions and document usage. As how and when we use the Internet for our business and personal needs continue to evolve, it's best to regard IRM as its own entity.

While some argue that DRM is necessary to protect the publisher’s content and livelihood, others indicate that DRM attempts to limit consumption, and stall innovation.  IRM strengthens the wants of those who rally against DRM. IRM represents a democratization of security, where people and organizations have greater control over viewership and where their information goes. It means more privacy, more control, and more freedom to get work done.

IRM provides lifetime control over shared content and is vital for complete content lifecycle management. With IRM, you can control documents remotely, anywhere and from any device. Information may now be created, viewed, edited and distributed separately; access to individual content pieces may be granted and revoked throughout the lifecycle of a project. Any IRM platform should support the full lifecycle of a project's content — from collaboration among a few team members to putting the final touches on public-facing articles prior to publication — as well as help any organization meet often-stringent compliance demands.

IRM software and workspace solutions give you dynamic end-to-end document control; you may set and manage individual document permissions regardless of the device or storage location. For example, you can just point and click to make your files confidential, and the technology behind the scenes will make sure recipients only receive encrypted copies. Then, the files may be copied and distributed across devices, but the content will remain protected — the encryption key resides under the control of the data owner. When a user opens the file, his or her unique credentials will be checked against what is stored within a centralized server before the user is able to view the shared document.

When the project is over? You still have full control over all of your data and content. That's Information Rights Management.

Melinda Green

Melinda Green

Melinda Green is a senior digital strategist who joined Intralinks from docTrackr, where she began developing the content strategy and awareness campaign for Information Rights Management — emphasizing the importance of end-to-end encryption in document-level security. She is also a registered yoga instructor and enjoys making random things with LEDs and electronics, and is fascinated by numbers stations and North Korea.