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XrML – A guide to the language of digital rights

by Casey Schmidt  |  March 5, 2020

3 min. read
A person holding a pen to a monitor.

XrML is digital language that gives orders and restricts content. It is an important language to be aware of and understand. As it continues to evolve, make sure you have a solid foundation so that you can keep up and grasp any new changes. Here’s an easy-to-understand guide to help you understand how it all works, followed by some predictions for the future of XrML.

What is XrML?

XrML stands for Extensible Rights Markup Language. It’s a way to exchange digital content without losing power over the conditions and restrictions imposed on it. In easiest terms, XrML makes sure everyone who buys, downloads or uses protected digital content uses it within the guidelines set by the owner. It is essentially like a rulebook for a group of digital content.

XrML is language that provides systems details concerning protocol over licensed digital content. This language builds rules, regulations and restrictions for how the content can be used by other users. It also guarantees the rights of the content remain intact for the licensed distributor or proprietor. Lastly, it helps provide standards for digital rights management (DAM).

Coded language on a screen.
XrML defines restrictions and guidelines.

Why is XrML necessary?

One of the main reasons for XrML’s development is the stipulation and imposition of rights correlated to digital properties. The language relays information to the user and system of the licensed file or program. Ultimately, this information informs users of agreements to the limitations and ownership of content. Without this, a created and cherished digital program or tool could be misused and ultimately changed for the worse.

XrML sets conditions for trusted systems to abide by during use of the shared or purchased content. These conditions include fees for businesses who are sharing files on a time restricted basis. An example of this is a company who sells access to a downloadable instructional video library. If a user pays for a month of access, they could download each file then quit paying. The conditions set restrict this using built-in certification checks. This ensures the agreed-upon fees stay tethered to the file.

Digital language and code.
XrML is necessary because it sets condition.

XrML evolution

The initial release of XrML was restrictive to companies due to its contract agreements and conditions that transferred ownership and licenses from XrML-created works to an outside company. It initially came equipped with ways to ensure the licensed user was using the content and not an unwarranted consumer. These types of restrictions seemed necessary but eventually loosened for the better.

XrML evolved to assure successful transfer of content could be completed. It allowed license-holders to control content rights. It also began moving away from restrictive language. As a result, things like installation rights were language were phased out to be replaced with less concrete ideas about licensed usage of content. It eventually became the main rights expression language for MPEG-21, which uses the language to create guidelines for multimedia.

Language on a screen that is digitally moving.
Helpful digital languages continue to change and grow.

Future projections

XrML is likely to be part of developments by digital content companies. This is because multimedia companies wishing to progress the usage of their content through digital transactions need language similar to that of XrML to ensure fair use and protection. Certainly, the concept of XrML should remain relevant in the near future so long as companies continue to produce content which needs certain limits and restrictions.

Another thing to consider is this type of language rule system could be key in the continued use and development of web services. One example of this is the switch from creating physical copies of things, such as a books and DVDs over to e-books and downloadable videos. These growing changes require XrML in order to maintain a functioning website and company.

XrML is part of the way companies adapt to digital transactions. Its use and similar languages guide regulations and necessary restrictions upon licensed content. Familiarize yourself with the new language of digital transactions to succeed.