I just read on Gizmodo that the NYT reports this morning that EMI is considering opening up "broad swaths" of its catalog for digital download through online retailers without DRM.
The EMI Group, the British music giant, has been considering a plan to offer a broad swath of its recordings for sale online without anti-copying software, executives involved in discussions with the company said.
In the days since Steve Jobs' open letter basically denouncing DRM and calling for its abolition, we have heard from many of you that Jobs unfairly distances himself from the DRM problem and solution, laying the blame at the feet of the big four music companies.
We wonder if he has forgotten that he is CEO of Pixar, part of the Disney Family. DRM is not just about music, increasingly it is movies and video that are protected by DRM, especially those selections purchased from iTMS.
Instead of laying the responsibility for DRM with the music companies and calling on their customers to influence them, Jobs should ask music fans to join him in directly lobbying the Big Four to drop DRM. He should be joining with Bill Gates and hosting a summit on the issue with Big Media.
A year ago I don't think that anyone could have imagined these two stunning announcements from the founders and titular heads of the worlds leading technology and digital music device companies. both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have publicly derided DRM as an impossible mission to secure digital music files with "crippling" DRM.
From Jobs open letter:
The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
DefectiveByDesign members turned out today in New York City (despite the bitter cold!) to spread the message that Vista's DRM is a danger to computer users. We were joined by folks from the BadVista.org campaign who distributed free software to the guests lining up to attend the launch event.
The Dawn of Vista DRM - On Monday we'll be turning out to share our "Wow Moments" with Bill Gates and his invited guests in NYC. We tried to get an invite to the events, but, alas, were denied access, so we'll be outside greeting guests as they arrive to the two swank events Microsoft has planned to pitch the Vista Upsell.
First, we'll be at the star studded luncheon at Cipriani's on 42nd Street from noon. Sign up now to join us.
"Wow starts now"? It's more like "Ow starts now", as consumers start to learn what they will lose by choosing Vista.
DefectiveByDesign has been campaigning against DRM since last May. In that time, consumer and media awareness of the restitrictive technology has increased and consumers have largely turned against it. Even the music industry is contemplating dropping it. Yet even against the growing anti-drm chorus, Microsoft is launching the Vista Operating System which, aside from some new bells and whistles, and an increase in base hardware requirements, is largely a platform for DRM, designed to serve Big Media companies more than individual computer users. Vista represents a step backwards in users' freedom, it is an "upsell" not an "upgrade". While user's rights will be trammeled by the DRM and Treacherous Computing features of Vista, the collatoral damage will be environment as users are forced to abandon perfectly good hardware to meet the new requirements of Vista, generating tons of e-waste.
Ars Technica reported last week on a Hollywood Exec's admission that DRM, for them, is not about piracy, rather about control over the way people interact with copyrighted works.
If we believe Ronald Grover's sources in his BusinessWeek article of last week, the problem is liberal DRM and not piracy, and this is a startling admission. According to him, an unnamed studio executive said that a major reason why studios weren't jumping on board with the iTunes store and other similar services is that their DRM is too lax. "[Apple's] user rules just scare the heck out of us." It's not piracy that's the concern, it's their ability to control how you use the content you purchase.
Alot is happening in the digital music realm these last few week.s We've heard news that Microsoft is abandoning PlaysForSure DRM to focus exclusively on their Zune DRM. EMI, meanwhile, has abandoned DRM in all new CDs which is great news, and they are also starting to offer mp3s with no drm. Including music by Norah Jones on Yahoo
Newseek ran an article this week on DRM and the growing anti DRM movement that our efforts have been instrumental in over the last few months.
Now, an increasingly vocal grassroots resistance to DRM is cropping up. An anti-DRM campaign called “Defective by Design,” which is organized by the Free Software Foundation, has 15,000 registered members; the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that DRM places limits on “your ability to make lawful use of the music you purchase.” Web sites like stopdrmnow.org and digitalfreedom.org have been launched “to protect individuals’ right to use new digital technologies” and urge boycotts on DRM-tagged content. David Berlind, executive editor of tech trade journal ZDNet, coined his own term for DRM: “Content Restriction, Annulment and Protection.” (Figure out the acronym).
The BBC has an article up about a report by The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) calling on Parliament to revise the UK's copyright laws (currently Brittons do not have even the private right to copy their CDs to their own computers or portable digital music players).
Deputy Director of the IPPR, Dr. Ian Kearns said, "[But] it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have that is the job of government."
Report author Kay Withers said: "The idea of all-rights reserved doesn't make sense for the digital era and it doesn't make sense to have a law that everyone breaks. To give the IP regime legitimacy it must command public respect."
On Thursday afternoon we asked DBD members to start tagging products with DRM on Amazon.com "DefectiveByDesign". The response has been great, with over 500 products tagged by more than 150 Amazon customers.
We're also suggesting that if you own a product that has DRM, go on Amazon.com and review it to let other would be users know about the dangers of DRM. If you do, let us know by posting a comment (include a link to your Amazon review!).
The anti-drm community is growing. Our own organization has nearly 15,000 members signed up. Mainstream press is covering the downside of DRM, and people in the industries pushing DRM are starting to speak out.
DefectiveByDesign members have shown that we can fight against DRM and win.
Other organizations are now joining in the effort to stop DRM. In the last month FSFE has helped launch a coalition effort called DRM.info a great repository of information and articles about DRM. If your looking for more information so you can hone your "holiday dinner" presentation to your family, this is a great place to stop. And just the other day the Consumer Electronics Association and others launched DigitalFreedom.org an advocacy site that allows you to sign a petition to (US) government and send advocacy emails to your representatives asking them to protect your digital rights.
We are starting to hear more and more doubts expressed that DRM can be a viable business model for the media and technology companies. The "stay the course" voices sound shaky. The problem? It seems that we - their users and customers - don't like DRM, and we won't accept it. We refuse to purchase from them, some circumvent the restrictions and most just go elsewhere. Eric Pickard is the director of advertising strategy and emerging media planning at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, and his message to the Big Media companies is simple: The people are in control...
Last week Billboard (the music industry publication) ran a great article about DRM and the digital music market. The article was picked up by Reuters and ran in many other publications. An article like this would have been almost unthinkable in a recording industry publication just a few months ago!
What's more, opponents insist that DRM, in fact, does nothing to protect music. Virtually every form of DRM has been hacked, including Apple's FairPlay and Microsoft's WMA encryption of tethered subscription files. Not all digital music consumers are aware of these workarounds, but tend to discover them the minute they find they can't play their music on their device of choice.
As we mop up after all the action and news related to October 3rd - Day Against DRM, we want to draw attention to a couple of items:
FreeCulture.org just announced the winners of the Down With DRM Video Contest.
Digg the DRM Video Contest Winners
Electronic Frontier Foundation's report "Who Killed the TiVoToGo?" which details how Big Media and Cable companies forced TiVo to remove the TiVo To Go service from the new TiVo Series 3 HD.
Digg DRM killed the TiVoToGo!
This via a DBD member:
BLEEP WINS BEST MUSIC STORE AT DIGITAL MUSIC AWARDS
04 / 10 / 2006 (for us int he USA that is October 4, 2006)
On Tuesday night Bleep won the UK Digital Music Award for 'Best Music Store', beating players such as iTunes, Napster and ThreeMusic.
It was a public voted award so we want to give massive thanks to everyone
who took the time to vote for us!
This summer Bleep passed the million downloads threshold, and is now home
to over 300 labels and counting. All new music to the site is now encoded
at the maximum bitrate of 320kbps, with everything still as standard
"If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed" - Disney Executive.
Defeating DRM is all about awareness. The direct actions that we take are all about this. On October 3rd we launched a world wide day of awareness about DRM, and now everyday is a Day Against DRM. Let the people around you know that DRM is bad for our culture and society. Let's create space for the debate. Do we want handcuffs and locks on art and knowledge?
As our friends at Disney recognize, if we have this debate, we will have won.