DRM in ERM: Know Your Rights Providers

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Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC) has historically provided large format document (e.g., blueprints) management solutions primarily to companies in the manufacturing, architectural, engineering, and construction markets. Today IGC also manages typical office documents and supports integrations to ECM (Enterprise Content Management) vendors such as OpenText and EMC/Documentum.

Visual Rights, a component DRM/ ERM technology from IGC, is a layer that sits on top of DRM/ERM software, such as that from SealedMedia. Once a user has access to a document, Visual Rights controls what they can do with the document visually and allows users to apply integrated and persistent security controls to drawings, documents, and images during the publishing process. Sensitive fields can be redacted (blocked out) based on user permissions. Authorized use of a document can expire, and watermarks and banners can be displayed to reveal rights or copyrights.

IGC offers a PDF-like document format called CSF (Content Secured Format) for free. Unlike PDF though, CSF is a closed format. IGC also offers 3DF, to handle 3-D drawing outputs from CAD/CAM (computer aided design/ computer aided manufacturing) systems. Visual Rights helps protect MS Office documents once they are checked out of a Sharepoint Portal Server, and the company is working toward integration with Microsoft's RMS server. "We'll ultimately offer a solution that manages all document types within an enterprise," says IGC CEO Gary Heath.

Liquid Machines
Liquid Machines provides ERM solutions designed to persistently control information to help enterprises comply with external and internal mandates. Document Control is Liquid Machines' ERM product, which includes audit ability for compliance reporting, changeable user rights (regardless of where the information is); encryption and protection no matter how the information is used (including email and IM); and policies that move with the content in case it is put on the clipboard or distilled with Adobe Acrobat.

The enterprise defines and controls user privileges on protected content from a central policy server. If each policy change requires the document to be republished, the enterprise will be constantly searching for these existing files, not to mention the impossibility of changing files on permanent media such as CD-ROM. Multiple roles—or sets of users and privileges—can be defined for each policy to allow different users differing privileges. For example, accounting can print a document, but engineering cannot, and both groups can read and write.

The Liquid Machines client supports existing application versions and operating systems without requiring upgrades or plug-ins. The client is distributed using standard automated deployment tools (using MSI) or a Web-based download. The server connects with Active Directory or LDAP to leverage existing users, groups, and authentication. Information is encrypted using industry standards such as DES, AES, and RSA. Policies are stored in a standard SQL database, and communication between the client and server occurs using XML over a secure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) channel. 

Pinion Software
Pinion Software is an ERM provider that also handles large format and 3-D documents and is positioned similarly to IGC. "We've taken an Operating System-level approach," states Pinion VP of product strategy Kelly Looney, "and we believe we're the only vendor to provide protections at the application and kernel level, which is important, otherwise this level is open to an attack," he says.

Pinion was formed in 1998 as a spin-off of a firm with roots in the defense intelligence business, so roughly half of its revenues come from the federal government. Many of its other customers in the private sector are implementing to meet compliance demands (such as those from Sarbanes-Oxley) to secure executive communications.

Pinon Secure Enterprise consists of two main products: SecureMail, which protects information sent by email in MS Outlook and Lotus Notes email content and attachments; and SecureShare, which secures content via Web links, enforces authentication, and facilitates publication of content through simple user interface or programmatic interfaces. It also provides an administrative tool for managing and auditing content, users, and event logs. 

SealedMedia CEO George Everhart says his customers include the Financial Times, Congressional Quarterly, and AOL/Time Warner, with the company's largest client licensing 60,000 seats.

According to Everhart, with SealedMedia products, data originators have complete control over what recipients can do with the information. The focus of version 4.0, released in June, is ease of use. The user interface is consistent regardless of the type of document being protected, and documents may be "sealed" automatically or just with a simple right-click of the mouse. SealedMedia supports many standard document formats such as MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, MS Office, and Adobe PDF and HTML, in addition to multimedia formats. 

Content is sealed independently of the right to access it, and rights are stored on a network-accessible server within the organization. Sealed content can be distributed freely, since only those who have rights to unseal the content can access it. This also enables the user to easily restore their secured files after a PC repair or upgrade. Rights to read, print, amend, store, and forward—before or after a particular time—and to work offline for defined periods of time are set individually. Embargoed information, such as financial results, can be distributed in advance of their release, with rights being granted at the proper time. 

EMC/Documentum is a key Strategic Partner of SealedMedia in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) marketplace. While EMC/Documentum eRoom enables knowledge workers to plan and execute project work and collaborate with extended enterprise teams, Sealed eRoom enables secure Web-based collaboration. SealedMedia ensures that digital information remains persistently protected within the eRoom itself and when files are viewed or edited on remote desktops. 

The future of the ERM market is very bright due to market and geo-political trends and heightened security needs. Rights management will increasingly be deployed in order to enforce compliance with information control policies and regulations, and to provide a level of security yet usability that has heretofore not been possible with traditional ECM systems. As in the ECM marketplace, certainly Microsoft will continue its influence in infrastructure and on desktops, and Adobe will continue its substantial role in document portability. Pure-play ERM vendors will race for marketshare, but those that are most successful will likely become acquisition targets, and their capabilities may become a commonplace office automation function that is as simple as a menu-click. 

Surely, though, over the next few years, enterprises will continue to deploy ERM software at a rapid pace to enable secure communication between business partners and customers and to protect their vital information, wherever it may reside.




ContentGuard, Inc. 

DigitalContainers, LLC


GigaMedia Access Corp.

Informative Graphics Corporation

Liquid Machines


Pinion Software


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