Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribue ran a fantastic column this morning on the Amazon Unbox service, DRM and our Day of Action:
Amazon's Unbox program is going to run in the background on
your computer and send information back to the company about your
"operating system, software, amount of available disk space and Internet
connectivity" as well as what you're doing with those videos, all in
order to continue to "manage rights" associated with them, says the
We have had a completely overwhelming response to last weeks email email about DRM Warning Labels. We asked you if you'd like some stickers to help spread the word about the dangers of drm, and nearly 2000 of you have responded!
We are working to get stickers out to as many people in as many cities as possible. If you sent us an email, we'll be getting back to you in the next day or two.
If you haven't responded yet (or even if you have and you are just a little impatient) you can download a PDF template and print your own stickers.
The Phoenix ran a piece on FreeCulture.org's video conference related to October 3rd:
But if you’re a consumer, it’s more accurate to say it stands for Digital Restrictions Management. (Or, in the case of Sony-BMG’s roo tk it, which deposits all manner of intrusive and concealed software on a user’s computer, Digital Restrictions Malware.) “It prevents you from using the content that you have bought the way you want to,” says Nelson Pavlosky, co-founder of the international student movement FreeCulture.org. “And because there are laws against circumventing this copy protection, uses that would otherwise be legal suddenly become illegal. If I wanted to make a back-up copy of a CD that I bought, which is legal under fair use, the DRM physically stops me — and the laws that enforce DRM legally stop me.”
DBD Member and Apple Protester Luke Gotszling recently wrote on his blog about an article at UIL about research being conducted there:
The article ultimately let me down as it details how Negar Kiyavash’s research is fundamentally designed to restrict the public and as a result is against the mission statement of the University of Illinois. The mission statement contains that a purpose of the University is “[To remain] a leader in the creation and synthesis of knowledge for the benefit of current and future generations.” Unfortunately, Kiyavash’s research does exactly the opposite; it is knowledge designed to restrict both current and future generations. More specifically, multimedia companies will be able to combine this research with the rights afforded them by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to track and restrict users from making fair use copies, excerpts for class projects, and other rights entitled under Copyright Law.
As many of you may already know, this morning DefectiveByDesign.org had a problem with our mail server and the mailing application that we use to stay in touch with you. While we are still investigating the problem that may have caused you to receive multiple messages about today's action, we can't say exactly what went wrong. We can assure you that we will get to the bottom of it and fix the problem so that something like this does not happen again.
We can understand that some of you may have a gut reaction to receiving this message multiple times, it may strike you as SPAM or UBE, I want to make it clear that we did not intend to, or initiate the sending of this message multiple times to you, further more, we're not selling anything, and we got your email address from you, so while the messages might be an annoyance – and we are sorry for that – they are not SPAM.
The engineers have been hard at work in their labs, bringing you a brand new DefectiveByDesign.org! Beyond the cosmetic changes, you'll also notice a "Languages" controller in the right hand menu. Thanks to the hard work of members of the DefectiveByDesign action network, we've begun offering site content in a diversity of languages. But we still need more help! If you would like to submit a translation, fill out a "Site Translation" form at our contact page.
A DBD member, Daniel, wrote me recently pointing my attention to to Sound on Sound magazine's August 2006 issue, specifically a Steve Hillage quote on page 95:
"many indie sites sell DRM-free MP3s, seeing DRM as an unnecessary inconvenience. Another option, adopted on System 7's site, is to give fans the choice; DRM versions of tracks, at 79p each, are cheaper than the 99p non-DRM MP3s, reflecting DRM's inherent inconvenience. However, Steve Hillage says they're now moving to MP3 only, because the MP3 files have been outselling the DRM ones by a ratio of 15 to one, despite the latter's cheaper price."
We have recently received some requests for High Resolution promotional images. You can now download these images, and others. Feel free to display these images on your website or blog.
Cory Doctorow has written a spot-on new column over at Information Week on how Apple iTunes' DRM is bad for business (not just customers). It's a great overview of the problems associated with DRM, in language that is fairly accessible. What's interesting is his tone, though, which seems to target big record companies -- laying out for them how their insistence on DRM is shooting them in the foot, putting them at Apple's beck and call.
Read Cory's article...
Folks probably saw and heard last week that Yahoo has started offering at least one DRM free song for sale on Yahoo Music.
Read one of the many articles on this development.
Yahoo is clearly trying our something new by selling a song at a premium without DRM, just a high quality mp3 download. We'll see if music fans are willing to page the extra price.
Thomas Crampton of the International Herald Tribune reports on moves in Europe to counter Apple's imposition of digital restrictions:
Those in the United States who are battling against controls placed on digital music have been following moves in Europe with envy.
"Europe has managed to shift the debate into a conflict between citizens and digital controls," said Peter Brown, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, a group that opposes proprietary software. "This is great because the discussion has been limited to technology circles for too long."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent list of "Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry".
An example for the RIAA is:
"DRM has clearly failed to stop songs from getting on file sharing
networks, but it does prevent me from moving lawfully purchased music onto my iPod and other portable devices. Unlike the major record labels, many popular indie labels offer mp3 downloads through sites like eMusic. Why won't you let fans purchase mp3s as well?"
An example for the MPAA is:
"Why are there region-code restrictions on DVDs? How does this prevent copyright infringement? Is it illegal for me to buy or and use a region-free DVD player, or to modify a DVD player to be region-free?"
Inspired by the entertainment industry's strategy of training children to accept their vision of a DRM'd future, a father in Victoria, Canada published "The Pig And The Box," a children's book all about how DRM is Defective By Design. The book is available as a freely downloadable PDF under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus license. I love that he's countering the actions of the entertainment industry by telling a story about DRM in the most literal way possible -- a children's book. As more and more of us tell a different story about DRM, our voices can drown out those who favor this insidious technology.
In our fight against DRM we are faced with the collusion of what would normally be competitors. All the Big Media companies act as one in their insistence that these restrictions must be put in place. And they all act as one in their RIAA fronted law suits.
You would normally expect to see competitors seek out a competitive advantage over each other. You would normally expect to see one release their music and video in formats more agreeable to their customers. What's up?
These are the actions of a cartel.
Next Wednesday July 19, at 3pm EDT (noon PDT), we have arranged a conference call you can join, and listen to attorney Ray Beckerman describe what this cartel is up to with the RIAA fronted law suits and the vital action that needs to occur in the next few months.
Free Software Foundation (FSF) President Richard Stallman, met with French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, and they agreed a joint statement. On DRM and the recent French copyright bill they say, "By giving a privileged legal status to digital restrictions (DRM), the bill "copyrights and related rights in the information society" (DADVSI) is going in the wrong direction. It will thus be necessary to examine from scratch the legal framework created by the DADVSI law at the French level and to contribute to the development of a European and international legal framework more favorable to the sharing of works and knowledge."
It's time for technologists and artists to form a coalition against DRM
With the launch of the Bono 10,000 signature petition
, we achieved one of our main goals, discussion of DRM in the mainstream press. In the first 24 hours we had over 1,000 signatures added to the petition, and now we are looking to arrange an appointment with Bono.
One question that has come up is who would we send to represent us all? Should we send artists who have already taken a stand against DRM? MusicCreators.ca lists the artists Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan. Or how about artists who have been leaders in digital activism, like Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder, John Perry Barlow.