Thomas Crampton of the International Herald Tribune reports on moves in Europe to counter Apple's imposition of digital restrictions:
Those in the United States who are battling against controls placed on digital music have been following moves in Europe with envy.
"Europe has managed to shift the debate into a conflict between citizens and digital controls," said Peter Brown, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, a group that opposes proprietary software. "This is great because the discussion has been limited to technology circles for too long."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent list of "Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry".
An example for the RIAA is:
"DRM has clearly failed to stop songs from getting on file sharing
networks, but it does prevent me from moving lawfully purchased music onto my iPod and other portable devices. Unlike the major record labels, many popular indie labels offer mp3 downloads through sites like eMusic. Why won't you let fans purchase mp3s as well?"
An example for the MPAA is:
"Why are there region-code restrictions on DVDs? How does this prevent copyright infringement? Is it illegal for me to buy or and use a region-free DVD player, or to modify a DVD player to be region-free?"
Inspired by the entertainment industry's strategy of training children to accept their vision of a DRM'd future, a father in Victoria, Canada published "The Pig And The Box," a children's book all about how DRM is Defective By Design. The book is available as a freely downloadable PDF under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus license. I love that he's countering the actions of the entertainment industry by telling a story about DRM in the most literal way possible -- a children's book. As more and more of us tell a different story about DRM, our voices can drown out those who favor this insidious technology.
In our fight against DRM we are faced with the collusion of what would normally be competitors. All the Big Media companies act as one in their insistence that these restrictions must be put in place. And they all act as one in their RIAA fronted law suits.
You would normally expect to see competitors seek out a competitive advantage over each other. You would normally expect to see one release their music and video in formats more agreeable to their customers. What's up?
These are the actions of a cartel.
Next Wednesday July 19, at 3pm EDT (noon PDT), we have arranged a conference call you can join, and listen to attorney Ray Beckerman describe what this cartel is up to with the RIAA fronted law suits and the vital action that needs to occur in the next few months.
Free Software Foundation (FSF) President Richard Stallman, met with French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, and they agreed a joint statement. On DRM and the recent French copyright bill they say, "By giving a privileged legal status to digital restrictions (DRM), the bill "copyrights and related rights in the information society" (DADVSI) is going in the wrong direction. It will thus be necessary to examine from scratch the legal framework created by the DADVSI law at the French level and to contribute to the development of a European and international legal framework more favorable to the sharing of works and knowledge."
It's time for technologists and artists to form a coalition against DRMWith the launch of the Bono 10,000 signature petition, we achieved one of our main goals, discussion of DRM in the mainstream press. In the first 24 hours we had over 1,000 signatures added to the petition, and now we are looking to arrange an appointment with Bono.
One question that has come up is who would we send to represent us all? Should we send artists who have already taken a stand against DRM? MusicCreators.ca lists the artists Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan. Or how about artists who have been leaders in digital activism, like Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder, John Perry Barlow.
May Wong of Associated Press writes
The Boston-based advocacy group launched an online petition Thursday asking Bono to take a stand with them against copy-protection technologies that they say unnecessarily restrict consumers' rights to freely use the music and art they've purchased. Digital rights management technology is commonly used by companies such as Apple Computer Inc. or Microsoft Corp. to support the companies' own business strategies and satisfy the music industry's concerns about unfettered distribution of songs over the Internet.... [Defective By Design] contends that more liberal access and usage models will actually help increase sales by widening the base of art lovers."
Peter Sayer at ComputerWorld writes "Free software campaigner Richard Stallman said French youth should protest against a draft law on copyright that will be voted on Friday.
The bill threatens their freedom to watch DVDs using free software, and is designed to make French citizens submit to the will of media companies, he said, delivering the closing keynote address at the Paris Capitale du Libre conference on Monday night.
Asked what could stop the law, Stallman replied: "Thousands of French youth in the streets."
Bruce Byfield writes A coalition of public interest groups and academic privacy experts has released a public letter and background paper to the Canadian government stating their concerns about digital rights management (DRM) technologies and their legal status."
They write,"DRM is used by some copyright holders ostensibly to control access to and use of copyright works. In fact, DRM technology can be used to override fundamental privacy protections. DRM typically uses surveillance to monitor and collect detailed information about people’s access to and use of creative works.
This morning (6/23/06), an interview with Peter Brown Executive Director of the FSF, was aired on BBC World Service. The segment with Peter begins at 8 minutes 20 seconds into the news report. "This protection [DRM] doesn't protect against the real threat that the big media companies supposedly face, which is the large mafia like organizations that pirate stuff and distribute it through their black markets. What we're talking about here is you, an individual a
One Freedom Fighter called up Peter Jamieson, the CEO of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Apparently, Mr. Jamieson had been getting quite a few calls that morning:
"He said that I was the 17th call he had received :) he sounded tired. I asked what he thought about DRM. He said, "I only found out what it meant a few days ago". I told him that I didn't want DRM in my music or technology. He said "DRM was allowing music to be made available online". I said I don't want locks on my culture. He said "DRM allows you buy your culture", and said I should "go and educate myself."
I think this is one of my favorite stories. Earlier this morning, a kind-hearted and intrepid Freedom Fighter tried to call Cary Sherman, the President of the RIAA, to let Mr. Sherman know about the dangers posed by DRM. This is his story:
"Spoke to secretary. The poor lady complained that she hadn't even had coffe yet and that it was too early for all of this. I asked her about DRM and gave my case concerning it to her. She said its been hellacious so far with the calls but that everyone have been nice and respectful. The suits are throwing their secretaries under the bus today."
When trying to call Brad Buckles (head of the RIAA Anti-Piracy Unit, and former head of the ATF), one Freedom Fighter had an odd run-in with Mr. Buckles' secretary:
"Mr. Buckles secretary was quite rude when I asked for Mr. Buckles. She said, "Is this for DMR?", [this is what she said]. Upon answering "yes", she without comment transferred me to a voice menu. I left a message."
See what kind of response you get by visiting http://defectivebydesign.org/actions/freedom_rings_riaa.
One successful caller stayed on message with Graham Henderson, CEO of the Canadian Recording Industry Association. "I basically explained that I am a music lover who owns about 300 CDs and that I would like to be able to buy music online. However I was not willing to do that unless it enabled me to do the same lawful uses that CDs do. I asked him to reconsider his position on DRM and to ask Apple to sell DRM free music."
Way to go, Freedom Fighters! If you'd like to get involved, visit http://defectivebydesign.or
One Freedom Fighter reports calling an exec at the BPI in Britain. After leaving a message on the bloke's mobile, the exec actually rang back, confused, and "asked [me] what...was going [on] and why he had been receiving so many phone calls from "freaks" today. I told him it was [a] demonstration going on and that we wanted to express our hatred towards DRM."
Want to join the fun? Visit http://defectivebydesign.org/actions/freedom_rings_riaa
Tim over at Canadian Linux Nerd mentions the DefectiveByDesign Freedom Rings day of action in post that highlights some of the problems with DRM in music.
...he'd bought a new CD but it refused to play on his Mac. I asked him to read me all the labels on the CD and sure enough it had a "Plays for sure" label. I explained that this meant it would for sure not play on his Mac and advised him to return to HMV where he bought it. He was of course enraged by this, I pointed out that he had in the past told me I was being unreasonable for fighting DRM and that he thought that the Digital Restrictions Management on his iTunes music store music was reasonable even though such music can only be played in iTunes or on his iPod. Since then he has converted all his iTunes music to CD and signed up for Defectivebydesign.
Yesterday, Ian Clarke, one of our LA Freedom Fighters wrote:
Attacking Apple effectively will have much more impact than making a smaller impact on a number of companies/organizations that include Apple. Apple has built a brand based on user and creator friendliness. They should not be permitted to bathe in the glow of helping creators and user-friendliness while propagating user-hostile technology like DRM. Apple needs a strong incentive to use their leverage with media companies to roll back DRM restrictions - right now, very little such incentive exists.
Our June 10th actions at Apple stores across the country continue to get press, even as much as a week after the fact. The chorus of activists dissatisfied with Apple's current position on DRM continues to grow.
Kit Roane of US News writes:
At issue is the software embedded in the songs bought from the iTunes music store that prevents them from being played on rival devices.
Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have demanded that Apple strip the blocking software from its iTunes service. France is readying legislation that enforces such interoperability, and Finland may follow suit. Although no action has been taken in the United Kingdom, the record industry's trade body there has called for a removal of the software.
Tom Braithwite and Kevin Allison from the Financial Times write Pressure on Apple Computer to open its closed system of the iTunes digital music store and the iPod music player is spreading across Europe.
...there are early signs of a concerted consumer campaign. Customers at Apple’s shiny new 24-hour store on Fifth Avenue in New York were last week treated to the spectacle of men and women dressed in fluorescent radiation suits protesting against the “digital rights managment” (DRM) software that stops iTunes tracks being played on other players.
Jonny Evans, reporting for Macworld UK, places the recent DefectiveByDesign flashmobs in an international context: "The group is perhaps a little more savvy than European regulators. The group contends that by restricting how software or files can be used, DRM-equipped products are 'defective by design'."