Defective by Design

About Defective By Design

We are a participatory and grassroots campaign exposing DRM-encumbered devices and media for what they really are: Defective by Design. We are working together to eliminate DRM as a threat to innovation in media, the privacy of readers, and freedom for computer users. Our actions involve identifying and targeting defective products, pressuring media retailers and hardware manufacturers to stop supporting DRM, exposing the immense concentration of power over media created by DRM, and raising awareness of DRM to libraries, schools, and individuals around the world.

What is DRM?

”The motive for DRM schemes is to increase profits for those who impose them, but their profit is a side issue when millions of people’s freedom is at stake; desire for profit, though not wrong in itself, cannot justify denying the public control over its technology. Defending freedom means thwarting DRM.”

— Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation

Get Involved & Take Action

Defective by Design has been protesting against DRM since 2006, and we've have had major success in the area of music. All major record labels have given up trying to enforce DRM schemes on music, but DRM is becoming a stronger force in ebooks, videos, and gaming. If we want to end this exploitative and anticompetitive practice, we must do something. Click here to take action.


Defective by Design is a campaign launched by the Free Software Foundation in 2006. After months of campaigning, Defective by Design declared Tuesday October 3rd 2006, an international "Day Against DRM". With more than 10,000 technologists having joined in the campaign and pledged to take direct action to stop DRM, and with more than 200 "actions" planned across the globe on October 3rd, we had achieved our goal of raising public awareness to the threats posed by DRM. Now we are moving from mere awareness of DRM to rejection of DRM. DRM technology is still a growing problem being used to restrict individuals' use of their own copies of published works. To enforce these restrictions, DRM software, and now hardware, must monitor and control a computer users' behavior, and we are here to fight back.

Current status

You might be aware that DVDs (or Bluray disks) are encrypted: all of the video and audio on these disks are coded using a key that the hardware attempts to keep secret. Hollywood requires that all DVD manufacturers participate in this restrictive practice, and they can use the DMCA to make any device that doesn't participate in their scheme illegal.

This type of nuisance was only the foreshadow of greater problems to come. DRM delivers even more than copyright extension lobbying can: to turn our every interaction with a published work into a transaction, abolishing fair use and the commons, and making copyright effectively last forever.

Amazon's new movie download service is called Unbox and it outlines what DRM implies. The user agreement requires that you allow Unbox DRM software to monitor your hard drive and to report activity to Amazon. These reports would thus include a list of: all the software installed; all the music and video you have; all your computer's interaction with other devices. You will surrender your freedom to such an extent that you will only be able to regain control by removing the software. But if you do remove the software you will also remove all your movies along with it. You are restricted even geographically, and you lose your movies if you ever move out of the USA. You of course have to agree that they can change these terms at any time. Microsoft's newly upgraded Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) user agreement has a similar set of terms.

In September 2005 a Disney executive named Peter Lee told The Economist, "If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed". A year later, on October 3rd we made that prediction come true.