International Day of Action Against DRM – May 3rd
On Tuesday 3 May 2016, the world comes together to say “No!” to Digital Restrictions Management
DefectivebyDesign.org is calling for a global day of action on 3 May to protest against DRM.
Who are DefectivebyDesign.org?
DefectivebyDesign.org is an international, participatory and grassroots campaign which unites a wide range of projects, public interest organisations, web sites and individuals in exposing DRM-encumbered devices and media for what they really are – defective by design. In raising public awareness of the danger of a technology that requires us to give-up control of our computers and restricts access to digital data and media, it hopes in the long-term aim to eliminate DRM as a threat to innovation among producers of digital media and to the privacy and freedom of digital media users.
What is DRM?
Digital Restrictions Management is the practice of imposing technological restrictions on what users can and can’t do with their digital media. Such built-in restrictions can prevent you from, for example, copying or sharing a piece of music, reading an ebook on another device, or playing a single-player game without an internet connection.
Why is this a problem?
DefectivebyDesign.org argues that, by imposing limits and controls on both hardware and software, DRM systems oblige customers to use particular platforms, which means you can only access your media on an artificially restricted number of devices. DRM may also tie your files to an online account, which allows for you to be cut-off from accessing your media in certain localities, and even be stripped of your media by having your files remotely deleted. Without DRM, you would retain control over where, when, how and on what platforms you choose to use your files.
“If we want to avoid a future in which our devices serve as an apparatus to monitor and control our interaction with digital media, we must fight to retain control of our media and software.”
But DRM not only limits the freedom of those who have acquired their media through DRM-encumbered platforms; it also restricts those who publish their work digitally. When a distributor gains significant control over a particular market, DRM enables them to lock their customers into their platform. And once customers are locked in, so are publishers. For if a publisher decides to switch distributors, customers might then have to re-purchase their media on the new platform. And this means that businesses that dominate a market can dictate not only the prices they charge their customers, but also the price they pay producers for the media they supply.
What can we do?
DefectivebyDesign.org is not being prescriptive in the action people can take locally to draw attention to the dangers of DRM. Basically, it is encouraging people around the world to do something that will raise awareness among the public and offers ideas, support and discussion on its community website.
“We support event planners of all experience levels by supplying printable materials, putting you in touch with other activists near you and online, and publicizing your event for maximum impact. If you’re interested in planning an event but looking for help from someone in your area, join the DRM Elimination crew discussion list or the #dbd IRC channel on Freenode and introduce yourself.”
– Zak Rogoff, digital rights organizer and the campaigns manager at the Free Software Foundation
Featured image: Readers’ Bill of Rights CC BY-SA 3.0
Updated 30/4: Article originally stated that the 3rd was a Wednesday [sic]
About Andrew McCallum
Andrew McCallum lives and works in Southern Scotland. By day he runs a community-led social enterprise company in a small area of multiple deprivation on the southside of Edinburgh, providing a range of care and support services to disadvantaged people, and by night he scribbles poetry while consuming vast quantities of caffeine and nicotine. He is a member of Pirate Party UK and a bit of an anarchist.