This is a guest post by Storm Dragon and Kyle (co-writer), two blind anti-DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) activists. It focuses on the problems facing blind readers in the US, but much of it is applicable to other countries as well. The post was written for the 2015 International Day Against DRM.
The International Day Against DRM is in two weeks on May 6th. On the same day across many countries, we will be meeting together and raising our voices against the unjust restrictions, control and surveillance that DRM imposes, and pointing the way to a future of empowerment for computer users. Will you join us at an event?
Every three years, supporters of user rights are forced to go through a Kafkaesque process fighting for exemptions from the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). We explain this process more fully in our announcement of the comments we filed this year. In short, under the DMCA's rules, everything not permitted is forbidden.
In the last year, we've seen DRM spread into more types of products, with Mozilla giving in to DRM in its Firefox Web browser and the media fawning over Apple's DRM-laden "smart" watch. But more people are waking up to DRM's oppressive effect every day, and the movement to regain control of our technology is growing.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has one particularly draconian measure criminalizing the circumvention of digital restrictions management (DRM). This section, which appears in law as 17 U.S.C §1201 states that "[n]o person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work". This facet of the law completely violates users' rights to their own devices, and their legitimate use rights to copyrighted works.
We've just finished another round of updates to the Guide to DRM-free Living, with tons of new entries for publishers, artists, platforms, and other providers of digital media who distribute files free of Digital Restrictions Management. The guide now contains over 200 entries for places to get DRM-free ebooks, movies, and music. Included among the new additions are Leanpub, a platform for authors to write and publish programming books, Rebellion Publishing, which sells graphic novels and comics, and Vimeo On Demand, a platform for creators to sell their videos.
Santa's helpers (activists) about to distribute the Giving Guide to commuters
I'm writing this with chilly fingers, having just come in from handing out our DRM-Free Giving Guide on the sidewalks around Cambridge, MA's central shopping district with some other activists. A few of the passersby were savvy about the issues of digital freedom and privacy, but for most, it was the first time they'd heard of ethical technology. Interacting with both types of people was meaningful -- sometimes hilarious as in the case of the man that said "I'm already ethical enough" -- and it reminded me why the Defective by Design campaign is so important: though DRM touches the lives of almost everyone we know, a disappointing few even know what it is.
We've just released a printable version of our online Giving Guide, which helps gift-givers choose tech gifts that are DRM-free and respect recipients' rights as computer users. The Guide is hosted on the Web site of the Free Software Foundation, which runs Defective by Design. The printable version, which is available in color as well as black and white, makes sharing and translating easy so the Giving Guide can spread far and wide.
Are you giving your loved ones holiday gifts they can use freely, or gifts which put someone else in control?
In the flurry of holiday advertising that happens at the end of the year, many people are swept into buying DRM-laden gifts that take more than they give. Each holiday season the Free Software Foundation -- which runs Defective By Design -- releases a Giving Guide to make it easy for you to choose tech gifts that are DRM-free and respect recipients' rights as computer users.
Opened a tech news site today? If so, you're probably up to your neck in buzz about today's Apple keynote. Front and center were Apple's new devices, the Apple Watch and iPhone 6. They're pretty and they're trendy, but, as we've been saying for years, those sleek metal finishes hold some of the most sophisticated and unjust restrictions around. On top of that, the company that sells them is a patent bully solely focused on control of the industry and its customers.
On May 6, 2015, the global anti-DRM community will hold our biggest display of unity so far - the 9th annual International Day Against DRM.
This year's International Day Against DRM featured a variety of events in Brazil, Bangladesh, Portugal, and the United States, and we're planning for 2015's Day to be even bigger.
Yesterday, people all over the world spoke out against Digital Restrictions Management with flyering, rallies, teach-ins, and sales on DRM-free media. Our eighth International Day Against DRM was a smashing success. Here are some of the highlights from yesterday's actions:
Powerful entertainment and technology companies use Digital
Restrictions Management to restrict our use of digital media. We
organize and build tools to protect our access to it. Our opponents
are strong enough to have the government on their side in most
countries, but when we come together, we are strong too.
During the last year, we've seen Digital Restrictions Management creep farther into the world of technology (including coffee makers and cars), even as we build a stronger and stronger community to fight it. A growing number of people are living within a box constrained by DRM without even knowing it.
Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) became a paying and governing member of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (no, seriously).
If there were any doubts that W3C was in bed with Big Hollywood, now it couldn't be more obvious. Together, W3C, the MPAA, and a handful of the world's most powerful web companies are preparing to build Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) deep into our public Web standards. We must stop them.
Ever wonder if you're the only one concerned about DRM when
you're doing your holiday shopping? We hit the streets yesterday
to make sure that you aren't.
On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet
in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones.
Most of these "gifts" are trojan horses that will spy on their
recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their
device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or
The announcement of Apple's new iPhone releases marks yet another highly anticipated product launch from the technology giant. As expected, the new iPhones will be faster, more powerful, and continue to hide the various anti-user restrictions behind a sleek and seductive user interface. Each release of a product or operating system from Apple means the latest and greatest they have to offer, including the strongest Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technologies yet.
In any discussion concerning DRM, there are bound to be honest questions and misconceptions that keep being repeated. Without a resource to accurately respond to them, some small misconceptions can turn into popular belief.
Remember Turn off the TV Week? A chance each summer to switch off the boob tube, recover from brain rot, and maybe even spend some extra time out in the sunshine? This summer, we have an even better reason to spend less time in front of a screen: the video streaming giant Netflix is collaborating with the World Wide Web Consortium to destroy Web freedom.