Zak Rogoff's blog

Organize your community for digital freedom on May 3rd

In corner offices around the world, those who profit from Digital Restrictions Management are writing their speeches for this Tuesday, "World Intellectual Property Day."1 This global but decidedly not grassroots event is a project of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Yes, those are the same wise folks who convinced governments around the world to make it a crime to circumvent DRM even for legal purposes, undercutting digital freedom, security research, and access for those with disabilities.

Plan now for a big impact on the International Day Against DRM

Activists at an Apple store on the 2015 Day Against DRM.

Activists protesting Apple's use of digital restrictions on the 2015 Day Against DRM.

In the last year, we've seen those that profit from Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) move to spread the world's most regressive DRM laws through the TPP trade agreement and pressure technologists to add DRM to Web standards. Their intention is to further strengthen the international system of law and technology that lets them weaken our security and curtail our freedom, in an effort to prop up a business model that is exploitative in the first place.

From the Web to the streets: protesting DRM at the World Wide Web Consortium

Protesters marching outside the W3C office.

Activists around the world protested in solidarity with this demonstration in Cambridge.

On Sunday, we led a protest at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) against the attempt by Netflix, Hollywood and other technology and media companies to weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the HTML standard that undergirds the Web.

We've got momentum, but we need more protest selfies to stop DRM in Web standards

Four protesters from around the world

Explore the gallery of photos against DRM in Web standards, and add your own!

Last week, we asked you to show the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that you wouldn't allow Digital Restrictions Management in the Web's technical standards, and you answered. From around the world, you sent in protest selfies against the proposed restriction standards championed by Netflix, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Hollywood. With you at our backs, we're organizing a major demonstration this Sunday, outside the building where the W3C will be meeting to discuss DRM. A parallel demonstration is planned outside the W3C office in Amsterdam. Our activism is working -- the campaign has drawn renewed attention to this once low-profile issue and more people are learning that DRM standards would be a major regression for user freedom on the Web.

Show them the world is watching. Stop the Hollyweb.

Two activists at the Cambridge W3C office.

Join these activists and take your own photo at a W3C office near you.

For years, Defective by Design and the anti-DRM movement have been fighting Hollywood and proprietary software companies who want to weave Digital Restrictions Management into the HTML standard that undergirds the Web. Winning this is a top priority for us -- the DRM proposal, known as EME (Encrypted Media Extensions), would make it cheaper and more politically acceptable to impose restrictions on Web users, opening the floodgates to a new wave of DRM throughout the Internet. We've been calling this awful possibility the Hollyweb -- a network riddled with restrictions that serves Hollywood, not its users.

Brighten our light — expose DRM!

What is the central goal of the Defective by Design campaign?

It is to shine a light on the abuses of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) -- to expose it as digital handcuffs, and motivate people to break free. We may not always notice the handcuffs, but we feel them chafe when DRM installs malware and spyware on our computers, when its owners remotely delete ebooks without warning, and when DRM laws are used to intimidate good-faith security researchers working to hold corporations accountable.

Be a guide for tech giving

In the flurry of holiday advertising that happens at the end of the year, many people are swept into buying electronics gifts that are rotten with Digital Restrictions Management, and restrict their users in other ways as well. Our Giving Guide is designed to make it easy for you to choose tech gifts that respect recipients' rights and avoid those that don't. But to have the greatest possible impact, we also need you to spread the word about ethical tech this season.

Unwrap our 2015 Ethical Tech Giving Guide

Topic: 

Electronics are popular gifts for the holidays, but people often overlook the restrictions that manufacturers slip under the wrapping paper. From remote deletion of files to harsh rules about copying and sharing, some gifts take more than they give. The problems include DRM but go beyond it -- any device running proprietary software, instead of freely licensed software, is a locked box its users can't control or understand.

Ten years after Sony's DRM-enabled crimes, the fight for user freedom continues

Ten years ago today, Sony was caught red-handed in a flashpoint that galvanized popular resistance to Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). A security researcher named Mark Russinovich published a description of surveillance malware (in this case a technically sophisticated rootkit) that was secretly installed on users' computers by the DRM on Sony music CDs.

Next year's International Day Against DRM: Are you in?

Last week's International Day Against DRM was the biggest ever, with fifteen actions from Guatemala to Bangladesh, endorsement from major ebook publishers, and a chorus of support on social media. Community members shared diverse perspectives on DRM in community blog posts and helped bring new people in to our movement. Together we sent a strong message to the DRM and publishing industries: we will not tolerate digital restrictions.

Community activists are the stars of International Day Against DRM

Protestors at the New York City Apple store were evicted by uncomfortable security guards. Principled cooks in Italy created painfully spicy -- but tasty-looking -- DRM-themed snacks to illustrate the bait-and-switch deception of DRM-encumbered media. And a solitary activist took on the entire University of Illinois at Chicago campus with nothing but a few hundred flyers and an unflappable attitude. As of the time of this writing, we've heard about three times as many organized events as last year, a total of fifteen. Great job, anti-DRM community!

The worst thing about DRM is that, most of the time, everything seems to work

This post is by Kat Walsh, a lawyer with extensive background in the free culture movement, who recently joined the Free Software Foundation's board of directors. The post was written for the 2015 International Day Against DRM.

Everyone knows how to recognize cartoon villains. They twirl their mustaches as they kick puppies, delivering speeches about world domination for personal gain, and often let their arrogance lead to their undoing. People recognize this kind of evil immediately and rise up in protest, banding together to resist. In the real world, most evils are much harder to see coming: they look reasonable at first, perhaps taking just a little bit from many people to get to some unexpected end. Once the effect is widespread enough that most people notice, you have a systemic problem that's hard to get rid of. The evil that's easy to identify is easy to fight. The one that initially looks like something good can betray you, and that's why when we recognize it, we need to speak out against it.

Today: What you can do to fight DRM

Digital restrictions affect almost everyone, but most people have never heard of them. Today is one of our best opportunities to change that.

People around the world are coming together to say that we will not tolerate the remote deletions, unethical surveillance, and invasive restrictions of DRM. In fact, with events in at least nine countries and huge online participation, it's the world's biggest anti-DRM protest.

Help us shut down DRM in 2015

Santa's helpers (activists) about to distribute the Giving Guide to commuters

Santa's helpers (activists) about to distribute the Giving Guide to commuters

I'm writing this with chilly fingers, having just come in from handing out our DRM-Free Giving Guide on the sidewalks around Cambridge, MA's central shopping district with some other activists. A few of the passersby were savvy about the issues of digital freedom and privacy, but for most, it was the first time they'd heard of ethical technology. Interacting with both types of people was meaningful -- sometimes hilarious as in the case of the man that said "I'm already ethical enough" -- and it reminded me why the Defective by Design campaign is so important: though DRM touches the lives of almost everyone we know, a disappointing few even know what it is.

Print this guide

We've just released a printable version of our online Giving Guide, which helps gift-givers choose tech gifts that are DRM-free and respect recipients' rights as computer users. The Guide is hosted on the Web site of the Free Software Foundation, which runs Defective by Design. The printable version, which is available in color as well as black and white, makes sharing and translating easy so the Giving Guide can spread far and wide.

Organize a Giving Guide Giveaway this December

In the flurry of holiday advertising that happens at the end of the
year, many people are swept into buying DRM-laden gifts that take more
than they give. Each holiday season the Free Software Foundation
-- which runs Defective By Design -- releases a Giving Guide to make
it easy for you to choose tech gifts that are DRM-free and respect
recipients' rights as computer users. We'll be launching 2014's guide

Fight the hype with this Apple Watch graphic

Opened a tech news site today? If so, you're probably up to your neck in buzz about today's Apple keynote. Front and center were Apple's new devices, the Apple Watch and iPhone 6. They're pretty and they're trendy, but, as we've been saying for years, those sleek metal finishes hold some of the most sophisticated and unjust restrictions around. On top of that, the company that sells them is a patent bully solely focused on control of the industry and its customers.

Looking ahead to the next International Day Against DRM - May 6, 2015

On May 6, 2015, the global anti-DRM community will hold our biggest display of unity so far - the 9th annual International Day Against DRM.

This year's International Day Against DRM featured a variety of events in Brazil, Bangladesh, Portugal, and the United States, and we're planning for 2015's Day to be even bigger.

Get your friends together for the International Day Against DRM (May 6, 2014)

During the last year, we've seen Digital Restrictions Management creep farther into the world of technology (including coffee makers and cars), even as we build a stronger and stronger community to fight it. A growing number of people are living within a box constrained by DRM without even knowing it.

Oscar awarded to W3C for Best Supporting Role in "The Hollyweb"

In celebration of International Day Against DRM today, we rolled out the red carpet at W3C to deliver your petition signatures. Internet freedom's most stylish gathered to present W3C with an award for "Best Supporting Role in 'The Hollyweb'," accompanied by over 22,500 verified signatures from members of the public who oppose a proposal that would weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the fabric of the Web.

Show your friends you care about freedom from DRM; use a banner on your social media profile

Stop DRM in HTML banner photo

The fight to keep DRM out of HTML is heating up. This Friday, Defective by Design will pay a visit to the Cambridge, MA, office of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to hand-deliver our petition against the Encrypted Media Extensions proposal (EME).

Defective by Design and allies condemn proposal for building Digital Restrictions Management into the Web

Stop the Hollyweb! No DRM in HTML5.

Today Defective by Design, through the Free Software Foundation, joined twenty-six other organizations in releasing a joint letter to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Web's standards-setting body, condemning Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).

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