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Take action: DRM leaves video game unplayable for days after purchase

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The video game "Borderlands" was released for consoles on October 20. But when people who bought the PC version in stores went home to play it, they had a nasty surprise. Thanks to DRM, they couldn't install it until the official release date 6 days later.

Apple says you can't have freedom because you might be clumsy, evil, and a drug dealer

Apple's lawyers, led by David L. Hayes of Fenwick & West LLP, claimed in comments submitted to the US Copyright Office that the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) system on the iPhone is necessary to combat drug dealers, safeguard the cell phone network, and prevent you from hurting yourself.

Friday DRM News (Monday edition)

Hi, I'm Sarah and I am working at the FSF this summer as part of a newly launched internship program. I will be posting new DRM news each Friday. If you'd like to know more about me read my letter of introduction. If you see stories we should mention here, please let me know.

Netflix, Why Do You Hate My Operating System?' Periodically, over the past couple of weeks my friend has been coming over to my apartment to watch movies with me. He has a membership to Netflix and I was delighted to learn that Netflix offers streaming of movies at no extra charge with many of its DVD rental plans. The convenience and wide selection of movies made me seriously consider signing up for my own Netflix account. I completely lost any such interest in signing up for an account when I found out Netflix doesn't support my GNU/Linux operating system and promotes proprietary software.

The DRM imposed on Netflix makes streaming unable to automatically work with GNU/Linux, unless I download proprietary software applications and even then, it's still not guaranteed to work. Basically, Netflix's DRM restrictions ask me to surrender my control over my laptop (by downloading these proprietary applications) in order to watch movies. Netflix should not even ask me to give up my freedoms in order to use their services.

More than six months ago Defective by Design asked users to “Send Netflix one of our holiday promise cards to say why you are boycotting their streaming service, and ask them to remove the DRM by June 2009... If Netflix fails to meet this ever-so-polite request, we'll be working on a mass cancellation of Netflix service in the new year.”

It is now the "new year", a whole seven months since Defective by Design and many Netflix users have politely asked Netflix to remove DRM from it streaming movies. Netflix has ignored its customers' requests to remove this DRM. It has refused to provide support to those who do not run Mac OS X or Windows. Their neglect of customers' requests show that Netflix clearly has no regard for their customers' rights. It's time to think about dropping subscriptions to Netflix.


Photo by Josh Bonnain, CC-BY

DRM News for this week:

Actually...DRM Isn't Dead By now you've probably seen the headlines “RIAA says DRM is Dead”. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of DRM's biggest cheerleaders, the RIAA, retracted its support for this restrictive software? Unfortunately, it is too good to be true. Jonathan Lamy, representative of the RIAA, was misquoted by TorrentFreak saying "DRM is dead, isn't it?”, but what Lamy actually said was "There is virtually no DRM on music anymore, at least on download services, including iTunes." While is it true many music providers are now moving toward offering DRM free music downloads, certainly not all of them are. Not only that, but many other products besides music files continue to be restricted by DRM. In the end, whether or not Lamy actually said DRM is dead is irrelevant, we all know that the truth, regrettably, is otherwise.

Apple Withdraws Legal Threats from Bluwiki; EFF follows suit In November 2008 Apple legally threatened Bluwiki for a user created wiki page that discusses the possibility, which was unresolved, of how to use software other than Apple software on iPods and iPhones to sync media content. Bluwiki is a wiki that operates without censorship, pop-ups or banner ads. Apple sent a cease and desist e-mail to Bluwiki, claiming the pages violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions and infringed on copyrights they held. Bluwiki responded by taking down the pages and sought legal help. "The EFF and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest sued Apple on behalf of OdioWorks, which runs Bluwiki, asking a court to reject Apple's claims and allow Bluwiki to restore the discussions." This month Apple withdrew its legal threats and the EFF withdrew its charges against Apple in response. Apples withdrawal of these allegations are encouraging, but Apple has still left a threatening permeate impression: Not only has Apple infected their devices with DRM, but users can't even discuss alternative bits of software to use without the fear of being sued.

Tesco Digital Removes DRM from its Tracks Not only does Tesco Digital offer DRM-free music on in its 15 million tracks, it will allow users to convert tracks they've previously purchased from Tesco Digital from WMA to MP3. This conversion will be offered for free until the end of the month.

Update: Palm Pre Will Now Sync With iTunes Last week I wrote about Apple's "bug fix-update" for iTunes on the Palm Pre. This "bug-fix" would essentially no longer allow the user to sync to iTunes from their Palm Pre. This week Palm responded with their own update, and the Pre now syncs with iTunes again. The war between these two proprietary companies continues. Be careful, don't get caught in the crossfire.

The Swindle Strikes Again! Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, Apologizes Amazon deleted purchased copies of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from customer's Kindles. Apparently, these electronic copies were not authorized properly by the publisher, so Amazon simply deleted the copies remotely. Amazon couldn't have chosen more symbolic books to remove could they? This is proof, once again, of the power DRM gives Amazon over your content. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos apologized for the remote deletion of the ebooks after criticism began to pour in about the Kindle's use of proprietary software and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). While we appreciate and welcome his apology, Amazon's ebooks continue to remain encrusted with DRM. As Peter Brown put it, "Unfortunately this matter requires more than just changing internal policy. The real issue here is Amazon's use of DRM and proprietary software. They have unacceptable power over users, and actual respect necessitates more than an apology -- it requires abandoning DRM and releasing the Kindle's software as free software." While this apology is appreciated very much, Amazon still has unacceptable control over the user. If Amazon wishes to take that step to remove DRM from its ebooks, we would be more than happy to help with this transition.

Update: hundreds of 1-star reviews added to Kindle page!

Update: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologizes - see our press release, and Digg this news

This week's Kindle action is going great; together we've generated hundreds of 1-star reviews and tags.

Then there was a great article in Slate by Farhad Manjoo, Amazon's top "expert reviewer" on the Kindle's product page, retracting his recommendation. This would be a perfect article to share with friends and co-workers, to introduce them to the problem of DRM (diggable here).

If you haven't written a review yet, here are direct links to the review forms. Take a few minutes to explain to potential Kindle buyers why they shouldn't get one: 6" Kindle, Kindle DX.

If your review wasn't published by Amazon, definitely let us know. We'll be busy picking our next product to target (if you have any suggestions, email us at info@defectivebydesign.org). In the meantime, we thought we'd share some of our favorite reviews below. Awesome job, everyone.

Friday DRM News

Nokia and DRM, Apple shuts out the Palm Pre, Hollywood confiscates moviegoers' phones, great GPL Games

Hi, I'm Sarah and I am working at the FSF this summer as part of a newly launched internship program. I will be posting new DRM news each Friday. If you'd like to know more about me read my letter of introduction. If you see stories we should mention here, please let me know.

Friday DRM News (Monday edition)

Friday DRM News

Hello, my name is Sarah and I am working at the FSF this summer as part of a newly launched internship program. I will be posting new DRM news each Friday. If you'd like to know more about me read my letter of introduction. If you see stories we should mention here, please let me know. **Apologies for the late post.**

The War on Sharing: Why the FSF cares about RIAA lawsuits

The Free Software Foundation and DefectiveByDesign have been working with attorney Ray Beckerman to help fight for victims of the RIAA's baseless intimidation campaign. The RIAA recently took notice, calling our position -- and by extension the position of many other anti-DRM activists -- "virulent" and "baseless."

Nintendo DSi: Defective by DESiGN.

In November, Nintendo released the DSi console in Japan. Next month, the rest of the world will be hit by this console. Similar to the previous Nintendo DS and DS Lite consoles, the DSi has two screens and the ability to access WiFi networks. However, in an effort to heavily control what gamers can do with their consoles, Nintendo has chosen to encumber this new version with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).

Nintendo DSi -- defective by design

iPod Shuffle...

Apple has released a new revision of its iPod Shuffle, and in a general sentiment against buttons that began with the iPod and its solitary button, the new iPod Shuffle has no buttons whatsoever. Just a switch.

Apple has unhelpfully put these controls on the headphone cable, so now, you have to use their proprietary headphones. They've also added a feature that Rockbox has had for some time -- sadly, not the ability to play Ogg -- no, instead, a recording of each song's artist and title will be read aloud, before each track.

Gears of War is defective by design

Epic Games's Gears of War title apparently includes a cut-off date, enforced via DRM. Ars Technica is reporting that the game ceased to function for everyone who bought it on January 28, 2009.

While it's not rare for games to ship with bugs every now and again, it's pretty shocking when one ships with an issue that causes the title to stop working for everyone who paid.

Microsoft defends DRM, badly

While others are waking up to the problems with DRM and moving away from it, Microsoft is embracing and defending it.

Do they think we forgot about MSN Music already?

I buy these songs on your service - and they're locked to my phone - what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?

Well, I think you know the answer to that.

Day 35 -- DRM in 2008

With our 35 Days Against DRM campaign ending, how about a 2008 recap to end things off...

Apple

In 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G, new iPods and the new MacBook with an HDMI display output. A persistent rumor finally came true at the early 2009 MacWorld -- iTunes is now going DRM free, at least for music. Movies, TV shows, Audiobooks and Applications remain encumbered by DRM.

Day 32 -- RIAA

The RIAA has changed its tactic. No longer will they sue random people for file sharing. Now they're going after the ISPs. While many of the large media company ISPs such as AOL, Comcast, etc., will almost certainly comply, what will the smaller, independent ISPs do? How will large telcos like Verizon react?

Internet News reports:

Topic: 

Day 31 -- Bono

Early on the campaign, we began an open letter to Bono, asking him to stand with us in calling for the elimination of DRM. Seven thousand people signed that petition and wrote messages asking him to support the cause. We have been in contact with Bono and his "people" at various points in the past, and have been told that he will not respond, and that we should accept this as a rejection of our appeal.

Topic: 

Day 30 -- "Trusted" Computing

Who should your computer take its orders from? Most people think their computers should obey them, not obey someone else. With a plan they call "trusted computing", large media corporations (including the movie companies and record companies), together with computer companies such as Microsoft and Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you.

Continue reading 'Can you trust your computer?' by Richard Stallman

Day 29 -- Edgar Bronfman, Warner Music

The notion that music does not deserve the same protection as software, film, video games or other intellectual property, simply because there is an unprotected legacy product in the physical world, is completely without logic or merit.

Nothing like a crazy quotation to open an article...

This at a time when even Apple had publicly declared their distaste for DRM on music. Of course, that took them about two years to realistically implement, but they weren't the only ones saying it.

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