Rights Management Can Protect or Offend

Companies should tread carefully when using Microsoft'stool for limiting employee access to corporate documents.

Ask people about digital rights management and most will offer an opinion regardingthe rights and wrongs of peer-to-peer file swapping. But ask Microsoft and you'remore likely to hear about their plan to protect corporate documents, intranets ande-mail using technology that sits atop Windows Server 2003.

While Microsoft doesn't seem to have a corporate opinion on the fair use of entertainment content, there can be few questions about the company's view of corporate data protection. Microsoft believes its business customers have a need, even a responsibility, to better manage access to corporate information, perhaps aggressively at times. And Redmond thinks it's created just the tool for the task.

One example Microsoft uses to demonstrate the need for its solution is the CEO who several years ago wrote a memo that, among other things, criticized employees for not working long enough hours, not working hard enough and not working often enough on weekends. The memo was so Scrooge-like in approach and content that when a leaked copy got on the Internet it cost the CEO his job and the company a significant portion of its share price. Had rights management been in place, the message might never have leaked out. Whether that's a good or bad thing is for you to decide.

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