Defective by Design

DRM Weekly News

Submitted by sarahmac on Tue, 2009-08-04 14:26

Hi, I'm Sarah Adelaida 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 http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/sarah-mcintire-introduction/ -- if you see stories we should mention here, please let me know.

Steam, eight ways to violate your freedoms Steam is an online service by Valve Corporation which allows you to purchase and download games that you access by signing in to an account. According to their user agreement, access to games is associated with the account, not the computer. But before you sign up, I urge you to take a look at the subscriber agreement first. You may not like what you find: DRM and several violations of the four freedoms.

  • As far as I can tell, the software even won't work on my operating system. It only works for Windows and Mac.
  • You must have an Internet connection to play your games.
  • People can't offer it in Internet cafes (no commercial usage):"Agreement does not allow you to exploit the Steam Software or any of its parts for any commercial purpose including, but not limited to, use at a Cybercafe"**
  • You're forced to install Steam's software updates onto your computer.
  • You're only permitted to use Steam Software how Steam says you can.
  • You do not own the games you buy:"The Steam Software is licensed, not sold. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Steam Software."
  • You're not allowed to modify Steam Software.
  • You are not allowed to re-sell your game.

Steam is a perfect example of how DRM curtails your rights.

MPAA, RIAA Lawyer: We reject the view, that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works

In response to the idea of an exception to an existing copyright law which would permit users to remove DRM from their media when the corresponding keyservers will be permanently shut down, Steven Metalitz--the Washington, DC lawyer who represents the MPAA and RIAA--is quoted in a letter with this gem:

We reject the view, that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so.

Steven, you're missing the point. Nate Anderson from Ars Technica says it best: "While computers and electronics devices do break down over time, these music tracks were crippled by design."

Barnes and Noble is offering ebooks with DRM on books already in the public domain

Barnes and Noble is offering DRMed promotional copies of its new ebooks, except these books are already in the public domain. B&N "explains" why the public domain books it's giving away "free" are protected by DRM:

'We selected public domain titles as our free eBooks because these books are traditionally among our customers' favorite works of literature.... Also, for copyright protection purposes, these files are encrypted and cannot be converted or printed.'.

Um, what? How can Barnes and Noble "protect" copyright on something that is already in the public domain?

The AP will no longer discuss its DRM for news

If you haven't heard -- the Associated Press is considering putting DRM on their news.

How exactly this is going to be done, I'm still not quite sure. From what I can tell, they are going to track the news by using some sort of formatting. Honestly, no one seems to understand how DRM on their news is going to work, which is why it's terrible that the AP will no longer discuss it. The irony is rich, a news organization refuses to discuss any more news on its own news.

RIAA Tenenbaum Update

Tenenbaum is the second RIAA file sharing defendant to go before a jury. He's a 25-year-old Boston University graduate student who was accused of sharing 30 songs. Apparently, because Tenenbaum has admitted to sharing his tracks he can be fined up to $150,000 per track under the Copyright Act, if the jury determines he shared these songs willfully. The RIAA asked the judge to make it clear that the maximum that can be fined per song is encouraged. Tenenbaum is the second person to go to trial, the first being Thomas-Rasset. The RIAA has sued around 30,00 people over the last six years, but most have been settled out of court. --The jury charged Tenenbaum with $22,500 per song--

Amazon gets sued for deleting 1984 ebooks

A teenager who was using his Kindle ebook reader to read 1984 for school is suing Amazon for deleting his copy remotely. He didn't just lose the book, he lost all of the notes he was taking digitally in the margins. His attorney argues, “Technology companies increasingly feel that because they have the ability to access people's personal property, they have the right to do so. That is 100% contrary to the laws of this country.”

Well said.


**At the time this was written this statement was true; however, they have since offered a service that is allowed to be used at cyber cafes

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