Defective by Design

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Day 23 -- Erik Huggers

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:50

The man who took over from Ashley Highfield had a tough job -- it wouldn't be easy filling his shoes. Afterall, Highfield's baby, the iPlayer, was already a failure by the time he arrived, it really had no chance of succeeding, especially for a Microsoft player like Huggers.

As it stands now, Highfield is at Microsoft, presumably working hard to combat all 600 of the GNU/Linux users in the UK, and as such as offer this hastily-drawn and poorly-concieved look into Erik Huggers' first day at the BBC.

Continue reading 'Day 23 -- Erik Huggers'.

Day 22 -- TiVO

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:45

When we told you about the iPhone, one of the problems we listed was that iPhone implements what we refer to as 'tivoization' -- that is, refusing to run software that has not been deemed appropriate by the ruling body, even if the software is permitted to be changed, legally, by its developers.

Continue reading 'Day 22 -- TiVO'.

Day 21 -- HD-DVD

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:45

Oh nine! F nine! One one Zero. 29D! 74E! Thirty Five! Bee Dee! Eight Four Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Six. The Sinclair C5. When I'm 63. Oh, to be 56. Two Fat Ladies. Sea? Zero.

Confused holiday ramblings from Defective by Design or the key to something bigger? It's all part of something called the AACS encryption key controversy -- way back in April 2007, the MPAA and its cronies sent takedown notices to websites which dared to feature the magic number.

Topic:  hddvd

Continue reading 'Day 21 -- HD-DVD'.

Day 20 -- Vista

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:44

Here at DefectiveByDesign we have been working towards the goal of making Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) a socially unacceptable technology practice. That message is spreading.

By highlighting the threat DRM posses not just to consumer rights but to our freedom to be in control of our computers and electronic devices, we have been able to gain widespread political support.

Continue reading 'Day 20 -- Vista'.

Day 18 -- DMCA

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:42

As we mentioned briefly yesterday -- we should never forget that Adobe used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to have a Russian programmer, Dmitry Sklyarov, arrested and imprisoned. His "crime"? Distributing a product designed to remove locks from eBooks so that they could be fully used like regular books.

Topic:  dmca adobe

Continue reading 'Day 18 -- DMCA'.

Day 17 -- Adobe

Submitted by mattl on Mon, 2008-12-22 12:42

Ah yes, Adobe, bastions of the creative world, and pain in the neck to all. Currently, as always, Adobe are up to some pretty dirty tricks. We're already seeing millions of users stuck with their deliberately crippled software -- Adobe Acrobat, Flash Player. Now comes Adobe AIR hand in hand with another sad story about the BBC:

Topic:  adobe

Continue reading 'Day 17 -- Adobe'.

Day 16: The Kindle Swindle

Submitted by mattl on Sun, 2008-12-21 12:39

The Amazon kindle provides convenience, but at the cost of freedom. When you purchase a kindle, you must agree to use the Digital Restriction Management (DRM) system. Since all of the Kindle ebooks you purchase from Amazon are in their proprietary DRM format, you are also promising to not share them with friends. And, because you promise to not circumvent the DRM, there is no way to move them to another device or a computer. You are locked into the Kindle and you are locked into Amazon.

Continue reading 'Day 16: The Kindle Swindle'.

Day 15: Steve Jobs

Submitted by mattl on Sat, 2008-12-20 07:38

He's not ill, he's resting. On his laurels, that is.

"If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own." -- Steve Jobs, May 2002

And yet, here we are, over 6 years later, and Steve Jobs's Apple is the only major vendor of digital music that is actively preventing this.

Steve Jobs: Head in the sand

Continue reading 'Day 15: Steve Jobs'.

Day 14 -- The RIAA stops suing people, continues tactics

Submitted by mattl on Fri, 2008-12-19 14:55

Today, the Wall Street Journal

Continue reading 'Day 14 -- The RIAA stops suing people, continues tactics'.

35 Days Against DRM — Day 13: HDTV

Submitted by mattl on Thu, 2008-12-18 15:23

Confessions of a HDTV Shop Employee

HDTV is a countdown to obsolete hardware, with the unintended (or maybe just unpublicized) side effect being that viewers have fewer options, since all-digital technology can be more easily restricted. Today, we present an anonymous tale from a shop employee of some of the problems around digital TV -- how consumers are being sold on the idea of HDTV, what that means for censorship and DRM.

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM — Day 13: HDTV'.

Day 12: Grand Fail Auto

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-16 13:40

Thanks to everyone who's sent in details of PC games. We've already covered Spore and SecuROM -- today we're touching on GTA IV, and offering some free software alternatives.

Act 1 -- Grand Fail Auto

One of the most anticipated games of 2008 has finally been released -- defectively -- by Rockstar Games. Yes, GTA IV is laden with the same DRM that has plagued gamers so much this year -- SecuROM.

On the subject, Rockstar announced:

Continue reading 'Day 12: Grand Fail Auto'.

Day 11: iTunes

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-16 13:07

You may have heard this week, that iTunes was going DRM-free. Of course, it didn't happen. Apple's iTunes, under Steve Jobs, is still stubbornly the only major distributor of DRM-encumbered music at a time when Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, Magnatune, 7 Digital and more are all selling music without restriction.

Continue reading 'Day 11: iTunes'.

35 days against DRM -- Day 10: Spore -- EPIC FAIL

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-09 14:22

Mason writes...

Topic:  spore

Continue reading '35 days against DRM -- Day 10: Spore -- EPIC FAIL'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 9: Zune

Submitted by mattl on Mon, 2008-12-08 17:02

Thanks for all your great submissions so far.

Thanks to:

Topic:  zune

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 9: Zune'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 8: Nintendo Wii

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 15:29

Jeremy Wahl writes to warn us of the dangers of the Wii console and Nintendo's attitudes towards DRM and its customers. For his efforts, Jeremy wins a DBD tshirt and free album courtesy of Magnatune.

Nintendo's Wii uses a system similar to iTunes cards. You buy cards in stores, or points via your console with a credit card. The points can be used to buy emulated versions of classic games or downloads of software and new, smaller games, called WiiWare.

Topic:  nintendo

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 8: Nintendo Wii'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 7: Prince: Friends without benefits.

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:56

Mike McCarty sends in his horror story of being a Prince fan, as a reminder of some of the tricks being pulled on music fans in this DRM age. Mike wins one of our T-shirts and a DRM-free album from Magnatune.

We begin with the demise of Prince's DRM-music service, New Power Generation.

Act One. Prince's music service: Defective by Design

Luckily I only purchased one of MANY DRM-laden album from Prince's now defunct New Power Generation website, Xpectation. It came in the DRM-encumbered Windows Media format, but this was before I was ever aware of the horrors of DRM. Ironically, I EXPECTED the files to work pretty much forever, maybe not forever but at least a few good years. However, I guess the joke was on me as I misplaced the files on an external harddrive a year or so ago and recently located them only to find out there's absolutely nothing I can do with them.

This is pretty common with digital files, but many of the DRM-free providers such as Magnatune and eMusic allow you to redownload your purchases directly from them.

Act Two: Prince's war on the Internet

Prince's war with all things internet has left me with quite the sour taste in my mouth. Pointing my browser to the website I purchased the album from confirms that the address cannot be found. No surprise. I think it's been gone for at least a year or two now. A while back I had heard the site went under and that Prince had begun using his MySpace page. This has since been shut down as well.

As The Register noted last September:

Teaming up with Web Sheriff, the firm currently known as "Europe's leading internet policing specialist," the Minnesota-born pop star has already ordered YouTube and eBay to remove hundreds of supposedly Prince-infringing web items, and he's intent on filing suit against the two web behemoths - not to mention Swedish BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay.

Mike continues his story:

Searching Prince fan sites such as Housequake, prince.org and a few others have led me to the fact that there pretty much is no way to contact Prince OR his camp in ANY form whatsoever. Also, there was never any mention to his fanclub (which I DID pay $25 to join) that they would no longer be supporting the DRM-laden files when the NPG Music Club went under. No other fans, or what Prince likes to call "Friends", knew what to do about the files either. The only suggestion I was given, which isn't possible now that the files cannot be played, was to burn the files to a cd and rip them back to mp3 if I want to put them on the ol' mp3 player. Well... the files won't play, so how am I supposed to burn them? It's just not possible.

Ah yes, the burn-to-a-CD-defense. This is a pretty common reaction to the problem that DRM causes. Of course, buying DRMed media, burning to a CD, and ripping the CD, all takes time and effort and means losing quality. Often DRMed music makes it hard for you to burn it to a CD -- you have to use specific proprietary software to do a job that is much better done elsewhere.

Act Three: You wouldn't treat your friends like this...

I used to be a massive Prince fan -- I won't say friend since I certanly wouldn't treat a friend the way he's treating his fans, but his adamancy about people stealing or sharing his work has alienated me and I'm sure quite a few others. Sure he gave away Musicology when you saw him in concert a few years back, but I still PAID for the Xpectation album and feel that I should be able to listen to it as long as I keep the files handy. I WILL NOT purchase another DRM-laden file ever.

Thanks Prince, for absolutely nothing except a good old-fashioned lesson in what not to do in future.

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 7: Prince: Friends without benefits.'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 6: Windows Media Center

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:55

If you put Microsoft at the center of your home entertainment system, be prepared to hand them the remote control, literally.

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 6: Windows Media Center'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 5: Yahoo and MSN Music

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:53

This year we've also seen some significant closures of various DRM services -- first MSN Music, then Yahoo Music. Yahoo offered refunds in the end, but it highlights the very real problem of DRM services closing down. Yahoo and Microsoft aren't even going out of business, yet they've closed DRM services. Google has done the same thing with its video store.

Topic:  drm yahoo msn

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 5: Yahoo and MSN Music'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 4: BBC iPlayer

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:51

It has been a while since we touched on the BBC iPlayer, that DRM-encumbered behemoth, coveted by so many at the BBC as its answer to the internet age.

A quick recap of the facts:

Topic:  bbc iPlayer

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 4: BBC iPlayer'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 3: Overdrive

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:39

From the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov in 2001 to our protest at the Boston Public Library earlier this year, the issue of DRM on eBooks and audiobooks is not a new one. OverDrive continues to push DRM on library patrons and libraries.

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 3: Overdrive'.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 2: Netflix

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-12-03 14:28

Netflix currently offers streaming of movies at no extra charge with many of its DVD rental plans. The streaming service, which requires Microsoft Windows Media and Microsoft Silverlight technologies in order to operate, uses Digital Restrictions Management technologies to limit playback to authorized devices, such as the Netflix set top box, Microsoft's XBOX 360 console and personal computers running Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS X operating systems.

Topic:  netflix

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM -- Day 2: Netflix'.

35 Days Against DRM — Day One: MacBook

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-11-26 13:39

In February 2007, the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs posted an essay, <

Topic:  Anti-DRM apple

Continue reading '35 Days Against DRM — Day One: MacBook'.

Buy a new anti-DRM t-shirt from the Free Software Foundation's online store

Submitted by JohnSullivan on Mon, 2008-11-17 13:43

Last year, we wrote about the fantastic anti-DRM t-shirt winners in TorrentFreak's contest.

Now, you can buy one of those shirts -- "DRM: No one admitted" by artist Mark Lindhout -- in the Free Software Foundation's online store.

Topic:  drm T-Shirt swag

Continue reading 'Buy a new anti-DRM t-shirt from the Free Software Foundation's online store'.

MP3 Compatible

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-11-05 06:20

In Britain, seven of the largest retailers of MP3 downloads have produced a logo which promotes the MP3 format for DRM-free downloads.

 100% compatible

The Entertainment Retailers Association devised the logo to emphasize the fact that MP3 files can be played on any digital player.

Topic:  drm mp3 uk

Continue reading 'MP3 Compatible'.

xkcd -- "Steal this comic"

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-11-04 11:14

Via xkcd

"I spent more time trying to get an audible.com audio book playing than it took to listen to the book. I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I have paid for."

See the guide to DRM-free living for services that don't implement DRM.

Topic:  drm xkcd audible

Continue reading 'xkcd -- "Steal this comic"'.

Petition against SecuROM

Submitted by mattl on Wed, 2008-10-29 14:20

If you're in the UK, please lend your support to this petition against SecuROM.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SecuROM/

"With more and more consumers being effectively handcuffed by games producers using draconian methods of DRM, we require the government to protect our rights as consumers by investigating this issue. We maintain that 'limited installs' and 'online activation' are both misleading, immoral and discriminatory.

Topic:  drm petition

Continue reading 'Petition against SecuROM'.

Hold your politicians accountable for PRO-IP

Submitted by JohnSullivan on Wed, 2008-10-22 12:02

Sadly, President Bush has allowed himself and the Department of Justice to be manipulated by the RIAA and MPAA. On October 13th, he signed the PRO-IP bill into law, ignoring calls to veto it and pretty clear indications that the bill was promoted using completely fabricated statistics.

Topic:  RIAA mpaa

Continue reading 'Hold your politicians accountable for PRO-IP'.

Last Chance: Tell Bush to veto the RIAA/MPAA Enforcement Bill

Submitted by JohnSullivan on Mon, 2008-09-29 13:34

Topic:  RIAA mpaa

Continue reading 'Last Chance: Tell Bush to veto the RIAA/MPAA Enforcement Bill'.

Stop the MPAA and RIAA shadow government: Oppose S. 3325

Submitted by JohnSullivan on Fri, 2008-09-26 13:28

Update: Over the weekend, Congress sadly has passed the bill. But it's not law yet -- stay tuned for our next step.

Topic:  RIAA mpaa congress

Continue reading 'Stop the MPAA and RIAA shadow government: Oppose S. 3325'.

Stop the RIAA from using the Department of Justice to do its dirty work

Submitted by JohnSullivan on Fri, 2008-09-19 14:41

The RIAA is continuing to try coercion to prop up its illegitimate and unethical business model.

Topic:  drm RIAA mpaa

Continue reading 'Stop the RIAA from using the Department of Justice to do its dirty work'.

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