Environmental Protection Agency is yet another DRM Drone

We have written previously about the organizations and individuals who opposed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions. These drones oppose the rights of users to backup, modify, and study the software and devices that we own. The DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions create legal penalties for simply accessing your software under your own terms, and raises those penalties even higher should dare to share the tools needed to do so. It creates real penalties for anyone who wants to avoid Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) controls. The granting of exemptions to these totalitarian rules is a broken and half-hearted attempt to limit the damage these rules bring, granting for 3 years a reprieve for certain specified devices and software.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) side-stepped this process and sent a letter separately directly to the Copyright Office. In the letter they argued that users should not be able to access and modify the software on their own vehicles. In their estimation, this would enable users to violate emissions controls. So it would be better for them if the hammer of the DMCA remained hanging over the head of every user or researcher who wanted to access the software on their vehicle.

Of course, just a few months after telling the Copyright Office that users couldn't be trusted with access to their devices, the EPA revealed a major scandal involving Volkswagen using proprietary software to cheat its emissions tests. The FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab details how the DRM that the EPA supported, along with the lack of free software on Volkswagen vehicles, helped to hide this fraud for years over in their blog on FSF.org.

But the fact remains that even without the scandal, the EPA was wrong for supporting DRM. We can't let governments and corporation use DRM to take over our lives. So we are adding the EPA to our list of DRM Drones, and asking you to let them know how wrong they are. This is what you can do today to fight back:

If you microblog, please share the following message (or your own) with the hashtag #DRMshame. We strongly suggest that if you use Twitter to publicly call the EPA and Volkswagen out, you do it in a way that avoids using proprietary software:

  • @EPA You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to use Digital Restrictions Management #DRMshame https://u.fsf.org/fraud
  • @VW All software on your vehicles needs to be free software without DRM to restore our trust #DRMshame https://u.fsf.org/fraud

Here's what else you can do: