IDAD 2021: Counteracting Disney+'s attack on culture

Our fifteenth annual International Day Against DRM (IDAD), might be over, but the fight against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) continues. Each year, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its Defective by Design campaign distill what we've learned throughout the year in our anti-DRM activism on one special day: a day especially supportive to those retailers and publishers who rightly refuse to foist DRM on their customers, and a day especially critical of those who haven't gotten the message that our real digital rights cannot be restricted. For those of us steeped in the Defective by Design campaign, IDAD never fails to provide moments that inspire us in our work for the coming year.

This year, those moments came in the form of reviews that activists around the world left for Disney+ following our call to help educate those who are about to subscribe to the platform on what they really need to know about Disney+: not its alleged features, not the films or television shows it might have, but the way it infringes on their rights by its use of DRM. We couldn't agree more with one reviewer, who said that they wanted to be "treat[ed] as a valued client and not as a revenue source to be exploited."

We hope this review, and others like, it are helping people to see the true "value" of Disney+. No matter what or how many film classics it's offering, nothing can justify the unjust restriction of their subscribers. For those who've never heard the term "DRM" or thought of digital restriction before, we hope it sparked a curiosity to find out more, and start them on the path to anti-DRM activism. At the same time, we hope that the reviews also provided people who already do know something about DRM with the resolve necessary to forgo it entirely and live DRM-free. Reading the variety of messages different members of the community shared with Disney+ and the Defective by Design campaign has been an invigorating experience, and as always, it's shown the dedication of the wider anti-DRM community, beginning with our community IDAD planning meeting and continuing through the Day Against DRM itself.

We've written previously about Disney+'s distinctive position among other streaming platforms. Few are sponsored by corporations with such enormous amounts of capital, and few have grown in as short of a time as Disney+ has. Considering its vast resources (and the amount of legal know-how it's taken to unfairly extend copyright for decades), Disney+ is in a position to provide a positive example to other streaming platforms and resolve to end their practice of shackling users to their "service" by means of DRM. Instead, and like other large streaming providers such as Netflix, they fall back on the bogus excuse of "copyright infringement," something that we've long known DRM does not help prevent. That reason could also never justify the measures taken, which involve taking rights away from users and making them agree to give up control of their computers in order to have access to culture and education. Yet until they do heed the wake-up call, the Defective by Design campaign and the worldwide community of anti-DRM activists will be there to let them know that no use of DRM is acceptable.

Our associate membership program is what has helped us educate the world about the harms of digital restriction and the value of digital autonomy for years. It's also what's helped us to stage the International day Against DRM, and powers all of the FSF's other activism. Join this effort as an FSF associate member, or donate to the campaign. It will enable us to continue to create new resources, and help carry our work against DRM into the future.

The more members we can count, the better we can help work for a world free of digital restriction. This starts with achieving our fall goal of 500 new members this year-end. Associate members can select a special gift during this fundraiser, and enjoy all the member benefits, which include merchandise discounts, a 16GB bootable membership card, and use of our videoconferencing server.

IDAD may be over, but our work against DRM continues. We invite you to join us in campaigning against DRM in whatever ways that interests you, whether that's suggesting edits and making corrections to the Guide to DRM-free Living, joining our strategy discussions in the #dbd IRC channel, spreading the message about the Defective by Design campaign far and wide through the use of our printable resources, and by continuing to speak out for your rights wherever you can. It's certainly not too late to leave Disney+ a well-worded review! In fact, we hope you'll continue posting reviews like this one on all DRM providers' apps, and that you'll let us know if any of your reviews are ever censored. We have to work together to hold these companies more accountable.

If anything has become clear in the fifteen years we've been leading the Day Against DRM, it's the value of what a dedicated group of activists can accomplish. Sometimes, that "value" is warning about how corporations impose digital restrictions, and sometimes it's letting DRM-free publishers and storefronts know that you value their respect for digital autonomy. Each and every thing we can do to whittle away DRM's influence has real importance, and contributes to a future where a piece of media doesn't have to come at the cost of your freedom.