Our work isn't over: Keep fighting for the freedom to learn

It's not easy being an anti-DRM activist, especially heading into 2024. Not content with locking down software and streaming media, the massive corporations peddling this unjust technology have even extended their reach into the world's libraries. OverDrive is the worst of these offenders -- and by their actions, an enemy of universal education everywhere. Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is fundamentally incompatible with the humanitarian principles that guide libraries, which is why we targeted them for this year's International Day Against DRM (IDAD).

No matter how active we are, a single day is not enough to reverse this dangerous trend for even the most dedicated group of activists. As anti-DRM activists, we know this; we are used to millions of dollars in media propaganda working against us. In just a short time, Follett, OverDrive, and others have perpetuated the idea that ebooks should be subject to the same restrictions as physical media. As more and more readers turn to ebooks, libraries are forced to keep up with the trend, often having to pay onerous licensing fees just for the "privilege" of keeping the work in stock, and, often unknowingly, exposing their patrons' data.

Let me be clear: thanks to digital media, and for the first time in history, free (as in freedom), universal education for all is within reach. Corporate greed is the only thing standing in the way of this goal. OverDrive and Follet have used the millions of dollars and incredible engineering talent they have at their disposal to develop new ways to restrict readers and spy on them, all while claiming to uphold core educational principles like universal access and freedom from censorship. They would rather spend their time and energy devising new ways to make money for their shareholders -- not authors -- and limiting our access to media even further than physical media does naturally.

IDAD, and the Defective by Design campaign itself, is our way of drawing attention to these issues. Given our size, we can't change things ourselves. What we can do is point to the way things should be and could be. We can call out those who claim good ideals while doing their opposite, and we can continue on with our work. It's all up to us -- and you.

IDAD may be over this year, but our work against DRM continues. We invite you to join us in campaigning against DRM in whatever way interests you, whether that's suggesting edits and making corrections to the Guide to DRM-free Living, joining the #dbd IRC channel on Libera.Chat, or spreading the message about the Defective by Design campaign far and wide through your own initiative. And, if you are on social media already, you can post with the hashtag #EndDRM. We're always on the lookout for anti-DRM success stories as well, so if you've had some results you'd like to share with us, please write us at campaigns@fsf.org.