FSF's Stallman pitches new definition for C.R.A.P.

FSF's Stallman pitches new definition for C.R.A.P.

Summary: If you've been following any of the news regarding the now draft version 3 of the GNU General Public License, then you also know by now that the Free Software Foundation and its leader Richard Stallman are looking to prevent the mashing up of GPL'd software with digital rights management (DRM) technology (see TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig).


If you've been following any of the news regarding the now draft version 3 of the GNU General Public License, then you also know by now that the Free Software Foundation and its leader Richard Stallman are looking to prevent the mashing up of GPL'd software with digital rights management (DRM) technology (see TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig).  Even though it's a scourge that lives at the intersection of technology and entertainment -- one that could severely limit our freedom to listen to or watch the content we pay our hard earned money for using the device of our choice -- most people are simply turning a blind eye every time DRM gets mentioned.  It's not a very sexy acronym.  There's no shock and awe.  The DRM cartel likes it that way.  They don't want any groundswell of opposition to interfere with their plans to control your horizontal and the vertical.  No, this is not Outer Limits science fiction.  This is the real deal.

To wake people up, I've come up with a new acronym for DRM: CRAP.  It stands for Content Restriction Annulment and Protection.  With CRAP technology (aka DRM), your ability to view or listen to the the content you acquire, record, or play in real-broadcast time (ie: a Cable TV or radio program) is easily resticted by its distributors.  They can restrict whether you can record it and what devices you can play it on (including the portable players and the type of computers you can use for playback).  You may agree to a certain license when you're first exposed to the technology.  But the people at the CRAP controls can revoke those terms and issue new ones whenever they want (thus, annulment).  And, the worst scourge to many: you're prevented by both the technology and the law (the Digital Millenium Copyright Act or DMCA) from tampering with CRAP technology, even if it's only to make a copy that works on an unsupported device for your own personal use (the protection part). I've written about CRAP.  Made videos about CRAP.  And now, I'm getting emails from Richard Stallman about CRAP. 

Stallman appears to like the shock and awe value of CRAP but has proposed a different meaning for it's initials. Wrote Richard via email:

The main reason I prefer "Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment" is that it avoids the terms "Content" and "Protection".  See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html for why I want to avoid them.  However, I think these words [Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment] are more everyday and simple, which are goals that you have emphasized in our conversation. 

The conversation he's referring to is one where he originally proposed "Cancellation/Restriction of Art Presentations."  I objected to the "Art Presentations" part on the grounds that it's just as problematic in resonating with the masses as "DRM" is.  I argued that we needed something that resonates with everyone who's at risk (basically, everyone).  Cancellation? I get it.  That's akin to annulment.  Restriction?  I'm jiggy with it.  I'm already using it in my own CRAP.  "A" for "And?" Just trying to make the acronym work.  "P" for "Punishment?"   Richard likes this because that's what you can get (punished) if you tamper with CRAP (based on the DMCA).  It does get the point across.  I kinda like my defintion and we've received a lot of supportive email from ZDNet's audience regarding my recasting of DRM as CRAP. But who am I to make such important decisions? Rather than work it out between us, I proposed to Richard that we throw it out there to the masses (kind of the way GPL'd software is developed) to see which of the two you prefer? So...

  • Content Restriction Annulment and Protection
  • Cancellation Restriction and Punishment

Let us know.  

Topic: Legal

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  • I'd say...

    both yours and Richard's definition are pretty good at emphasizing the ugly side of DRM, but the acronym is a bit too chuckle-inducing for non-techies, so it might not be taken seriously.

    I don't think we need new acronyms to spread the word, we need more Digital Restrictions Management trainwrecks to show the masses how bad DRM really is. And judging by the recent trainwrecks publicly outed(Sony XCP/MediaMax, iTunes MiniStore, StarForce, Alpha-DVD in Germany), it may not be long until enough trainwrecks pile up to make everyone really take notice.
    Tony Agudo
    • I second this

      DRM has had some high-profile failures that resulted in a lot of back-peddling, especially on CDs. The real way to fight this is for the media to play on the consumer's fears - showing them how expensive and bulky DRM/CRAP is.

      DRM/CRAP = Sony installing spyware on your computer.
      DRM/CRAP = CDs not playing in your car's CD player.

      That's the stuff the populace will respond to. They need real-life examples of how it affects them personally.
  • What garbage. Get over yourself!

    There is a an entire world of data/content besides what comes from RIAA and the MPAA. You sound as if you would throw the baby out with the bath water. I WANT to have ABSOLUTE control over ALL of my content/data and I don't give a dang if you like that or not.
    • That's exactly the attitude...

      "I WANT to have ABSOLUTE control over ALL of my content/data and I don't give a dang if you like that or not."

      ...that leads DRM creators to severely tresspass over consumers' rights of fair use. Digital Restrictions Management(or C.R.A.P.) has a few major drawbacks:

      1. Limiting or outright denial of fair use. Music is music, movies are movies, yet with DRM you have music that is splintered;you may have the latest U2 album from iTunes Music Store, but that Linkin Park album you want is Rhapsody-only, for example. You can't take that Linkin Park album and play it under RealPlayer, according to both DRM systems. It's reasonable and fair to want to do this, but thanks to DRM we have little walled gardens that give little or no consideration to fair uses.

      2. Security risks. I don't need to tell you about the Sony XCP/MediaMax scandal, nor the iTunes MiniStore kerfluffle, we all know what happened there. But it demonstrates a disturbing possible trend emerging: DRM systems employing malware tactics, and deceiving users about it.

      3. Loss of control. Notice how DRM vendors can further restrict your rights at any given time, without advance knowledge? That's the "self technological help" that's stated in many DRM EULAs.

      Oh, and as your question about who's holding a gun to David's head: As a clue, look at your quote closely. If you're a DRM creator with that kind of attitude(there's a lot out there), you could be the one holding that gun saying: "I don't care how important my content is to you; if you don't accept this DRM, you don't get access, period".
      Tony Agudo
      • Small correction

        "You can't take that Linkin Park album and play it under RealPlayer, according to both DRM systems."

        Sorry, meant to say U2, not Linkin Park in the example.
        Tony Agudo
      • CRAP

        I couldn't agree more. I do not want Windows Media Player on my computer at all. I have totally scrubbed it from my machine. I NORMALLY use a media player that plays WMA with no problem. Recently, I downloaded a purchased song. When I attempted to play it, I was taken to Microsoft's Windows Media Player download page. I then installed another player capable of playing WMA. Again I was taken to Microsoft's site. It seems I will be totally unable to play legally purchased music without kowtowing to C.R.A.P.
        • playing your song

          I think you attempted to play the song directly by clicking on it, rather than firing up your other player and [b]then[/b] accessing the song from your player's requester.

          If you try it that way, I think you will bypass the WMP need coded into the song.

          On the other hand, if you're a good programmer, get a hex viewer-editor and change the relevant bits which offend.
    • What if

      you can't produce any content or distribute it without their approval? Unless you are one of the big corporate people (which I wouldn't be suprised) You will not be able to distribute your own material. Between this, software patents, and other changing regulations, we are moving from a capitalistic society to a corporate one.
    • But the problem is, you don't actually have that right

      See, under fair use laws you don't have the right to have ABSOLUTE control over ALL of [your] content/data. Whether you like it or not.

      Otherwise we wouldn't have things like libraries; and you could be stopped from lending or giving a book to a friend.

      And guess what, authors and publishers have somehow managed to do very well despite the fact that I can walk into a building and read thousands of books for free - in just about any city in this country.

      With DRM/CRAP applied to our past, you might not be able to get a book that's out of print (no reselling of books, per CRAP) or have an archive of historical texts (the author is dead, publisher gone, no one to approve your use). It's a dead end for everyone. So for the greater good, you don't get to have absolute control. Sorry.
  • Crap

    David: I prefer yours
    wayne pratt
  • One more question, who has a gun to your head?

    I mean you don't like the DRM model, ok I understand. So who is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy anything (content) containing DRM?

    You see, I am a big boy that can look at a product and decide to spend my "hard earned dollars" on it or simply walk away. For some reason that seems to be beyond your abilities. Care to explain why?
    • sheeple I tell you...

      And what content won't have DRM in it down the line?

      • Not much...

        "And what content won't have DRM in it down the line?"

        ...if the Analog Hole, Broadcast Flag, and Audio Flag bills get passed. Those would be the "3 Bills of Fair Use Death" if I'm not mistaken.
        Tony Agudo
    • who has a gun to your head?

      Is the problem that "You really just don't get it", or are you as
      obtuse as you seem? It has been said many ways but it always
      means the same thing. Those who forget the past are condemned
      to repeat it.
    • C.R.A.P. could actually be

      Activities of the

      The big media companies who operate as a cartel and control almost all artistic and most other media are using this to increase their profits. Their ultimate goal is to be able to charge for every view or listen from creation forever.
      • I like that, but...

        Good idea, but I think something more like Corporate Repetitive Asinine Prohibitions works even better.

        That said, if I had to choose between the two in the article, I would choose the one from Richard Stallman.
  • CRAP

    No offense, but Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment is just easier to remember for us old folks.
  • Definition of CRAP

    I think I'd prefer Content Restriction and Punishment.

  • Simple is better

    Therefore I'm for Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment.

    It's simple and requires an IQ no higher than 90 to understand. It gets the point across that this is a bad thing.

    Whereas Content Restriction Annulment and Protection seems to be using a positive word, protection, which might confuse people as to it's intent. "Isn't it protecting me?"

    Then there's the use of the word "Annulment." As sad as it is, I think there are a lot of people that don't really know what that means. It would require an IQ of at least 100 - 105.
  • Acronym

    My vote for

    Content Restriction Annulment and Protection