Anti-DRM day announced

Anti-DRM day announced

Summary: Part of the Free Software Foundation has earmarked 3 October for a global protest against digital rights management technology

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An awareness day to highlight the fight against digital rights management (DRM) will be held on 3 October.

Organised by DefectiveByDesign.org, a sub-group of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Anti-DRM day will involve a "worldwide day of action… to raise the stakes and attempt to increase awareness to the threats of DRM".

The technology is being increasingly embedded in software and music CDs to prevent users from making unauthorised copies. However, incidents such as last year's Sony rootkit debacle — when people who played certain CDs on their computers unwittingly downloaded software that made them more vulnerable to viruses and spyware — highlighted the serious risks involved in overzealous DRM implementation.

"Media companies should be embracing the new possibilities that digital technology brings," said Dr Ian Brown, an expert for the Open Rights Group and academic working at UCL and the Cambridge-MIT Insitute, on Friday.

"Instead, most are trying to lock us all into their 20th century business models, using faulty technology that will stop consumers from making legitimate uses of copyright works," he told ZDNet UK.

DRM has, by its nature, proved an attractive challenge to hackers and programmers, some of whom have achieved success in circumventing it. The most recent case saw Microsoft scramble to patch its Windows Media DRM after someone released a utility which would see it effectively bypassed.

The issue has also caused vigorous debate in the run-up to the third version of the General Public License (GPL), the document — currently being revised by the FSF — which underpins much of the open source movement. Many have argued for anti-DRM provisions to be included, saying DRM runs contrary to the spirit of open source. But Linux creator Linus Torvalds has said DRM can play an integral role in security, and claimed that proposed revisions to the GPL go too far.

Earlier this year several organisations complained to MPs about DRM. The British Library said the technology was hampering its ability to use digitised material within the context of a library, and the Royal National Institute for the Blind claimed DRM stopped certain e-books working with software designed to make computers read text out loud.

In July, DefectiveByDesign.org organised a petition to persuade U2 frontman and longstanding rights campaigner Bono to join the anti-DRM movement. It remains to be seen whether he will join its ranks.

The organisation is also concerned about DRM functionality which it says will be included in new high-definition DVD formats, to allow unprecedented monitoring and control over usage habits.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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2 comments
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  • DRM is about controlling access to data. Nothing more, nothing less.

    First of all, until DRM prevents me, for example, from taking photos (or print screens) of a computer monitor and rerouting speaker output to a recording device DRM is more about market control then data (security) control.
    Remember that DRM is proclaimed as being the answer to what the laws and corporate hotshots want to prohibit but technically can't.

    Until then DRM should be avoided at all costs because what looks great and innovative right now will come at a cost sometime in the near future. You like your downloaded and payed for DRM protected data at the moment? Well wait until your computer goes belly up, or you're not up-to-date with the lates software patches, or you don't agree with the latest (future) license agreements. Or you find out that your newly purshased hardware/software isn't DRM compliant enough (e.g., didn't pay enough to the DRM manufacturer), etc, etc.

    Keep in mind the choices you have when talking about DRM protected data. Usually you'r vendor locked so whatever the vendor demands you either follow or else. DRM protected data usually comes with restricted access in one way or another, also where paying, legitimate, parties are concerned, so it's not that unlikely that you'll come to a disagreement sooner or later. Most consumers, EU wide, already have significantly more rights then DRM allows them to have (e.g., the right to download whatever music as long as it is for personal use only). DRM usually not only restricts you in terms of what and how but also in terms of where and with what, thus restricting your choise of (software) product and usage rights (which can change over time and not for the better).

    In short, today DRM is mostly about market control and in general that is lock-up and therefor not a good thing. Not at least from a consumer point of view. After all, consumers want the best product to win by means of voting with their wallet. Not by having to choose between the least bad choice between available bad choices. Based upon general opinion influenced by huge corporate PR budgets.

    So, investing in today's state of DRM actually means voting that this is how you want things to be. Any reasonable amount of (non commercially motivated) research would tell you otherwise, so why vote for the current state of DRM by means of spendig money on it?
    Because you don't have any other choice? Really, are you that spineless and uncreative? Or is it the "I don't care as long as they pay me" attitude speaking?
    anonymous
  • I dont see why they cant leave everything as it is. If anything illegal copying and downloading of music has increased the amount of music i buy!

    i buy an album and i like it i will buy it and put it in the cupboard and never open the thing and keep listening to the downloaded songs :D
    anonymous