A digital rights management system for controlling the distribution of digital content to player applications. The system comprises a verification system, a trusted content handler, and a user interface control. The verification system is provided to validate the integrity of the player applications; and the trusted content handler is used to decrypt content and to transmit the decrypted content to the player applications, and to enforce usage rights associated with the content. The user interface control module is provided to ensure that users of the player applications are not exposed to actions that violate the usage rights. The preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a system that enables existing content viewers, such as Web browsers, document viewers, and Java Virtual Machines running content-viewing applications, with digital rights management capabilities, in a manner that is transparent to the viewer. Extending content viewers with such capabilities enables and facilitates the free exchange of digital content over open networks, such as the Internet, while protecting the rights of content owners, authors, and distributors. This protection is achieved by controlling access to the content and constraining it according to the rights and privileges granted to the user during the content acquisition phase.