International Day Against DRM (IDAD) - Save the Libraries! - December 8, 2023
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This year's annual day in protest of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) will be on December 8, 2023. On IDAD, a global community of activists will defend a library's right to support their patrons -- and those libraries' right not to be abused by Digital Restrictions Management and vicious licensing agreements.
This year's campaign draws attention to the ways libraries, and by extension, their patrons, are mistreated by corporations like OverDrive, makers of the "Libby" app that have a near monopolistic control over digital lending in the United States. Services like OverDrive and Follet Destiny mandate "controlled digital lending" schemes, imposing artificial scarcity on a digital good. They also require monthly or annual fees in order to have the privilege of having a book or piece of media in circulation. Should the library struggle with paying its licensing fees, like the New York Public Library, their "access" is "rescinded."
There once was a time when you could donate a book to the library to give others in your community access to it. There once was a time when libraries owned the works that they provide to the public, rather than finding themselves trapped by unethical technology and predatory licensing fees. If we want to ensure that our cultural legacy lasts, we need to focus our attention on corporations like OverDrive, who make a living out of leeching on libraries, which are already underfunded. In this year's IDAD, we'll do our best to remedy this.
How to participate
Pledge not to use Libby, Follett Destiny, or similar apps by letting your local library know that you support them, not corporations using DRM. Check out our sample letter below for inspiration.
Let us and the world know why libraries are important to you in a short video posted to social media. Speak up against Libby, Kanopy, and other apps that harm both users and libraries. You can use the hashtag #DayAgainstDRM.
Challenge yourself to go a "Day without DRM," and refuse to engage with media peddled by Disney+, Amazon, Peacock, and others that don't respect your digital autonomy. If you need help, be sure to check out our Guide to DRM-free Living.
When sending an email or letter to your local library or library system, we recommend something like the following:
To Whom It May Concern,
At a time when libraries around the world go underfunded and underappreciated, I am writing to tell you that I support your work to educate the public.
The crisis facing libraries is already bad enough. It's made still worse by companies like OverDrive forcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology on libraries, artificially restricting access to a digital good and levying monthly or annual fees on libraries for the "privilege" of keeping it in circulation. Unlike the humanitarian principles that guide libraries, OverDrive and their Libby app are interested only in their profit margin. In pursuit of this, they restrict both libraries and readers alike, using unjust technology to restrict and spy on them for ad revenue.
Things would be much easier if libraries simply owned the books and media they circulate to their patrons, rather than have them mediated by malicious corporations. Whether the media is digital or not, there's no justification for OverDrive's predatory practices. A library has the right to own its media. Even if it means being limited in the ebooks and media I can get from the library, I wanted to let you know that I would support you if you dropped OverDrive or any of its competitors in favor of true freedom for the reader.
Thank you for your work for the public.
If you like, you can CC email@example.com onto your email. Either way, we'd love to hear your story.
Are you an organization or project interested in supporting IDAD?
We're looking for vendors of DRM-free media, organizations that support the building of a DRM-free world, and those who believe in the mission of DbD to participate by offering sales, writing blog posts, organizing events, and sharing with your members about IDAD. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Together, we can build a future without DRM.