Digital rights management (DRM) provides digital content creators and owners with a range of controls over how their information resources may be used. It is a fairly young discipline yet is becoming increasingly important as digital content can be copied and distributed so easily that the piracy of them is growing critical. In addition, with the rapid adoption of the Internet as an e-content delivery channel, complex DRM systems are required to protect the digital content besides the distribution channel. Risking their intellectual property (IP) rights, many major e-content providers are relying on DRM to not only protect the packaged digital products, but also to promote the e-content market over the Internet. As a multidisciplinary technology, DRM has advanced innovative research and development in various fields such as biometrics, watermarking, security protocols, smart-card technology, forgery detection, and secure collaboration and data sharing. Commercially, DRM provides the e-content market with a significant impetus to grow, where secure e-content distribution is essential. Despite its short history, many DRM tools have already been developed by IBM, Sony, Real Networks, Intertrust, and Thomson. These products need be compatible with existing standards for contents, consumer electronics, and often times, different DRM systems. Standardization efforts in industry are ongoing to ensure the interoperability of DRM products and services. Another important impetus is the legal and regulatory framework. Technical measures provide an effective hurdle for limiting abuse, but legal actions against violators can prevent organized piracy from infringing. With a properly integrated legal, technological, and commercial framework, we expect that the DRM products and services will greatly foster the growth of the e-content market that is eagerly awaited by content providers and consumers. Without proper DRM technologies and laws, the creative industries that create digital products such as DVDs, business software, music recordings, theatrical films, and digital TV programs will suffer from piracy and would be reluctant to support Web-based commerce. The socioeconomic impact of DRM is huge. In this article, DRM techniques using cryptography, data hiding, and biometrics are discussed. Also covered are the standardization issues, emerging trends, and challenges in DRM-related technologies, commerce, and legislative regulations.