Well, it's official. Apple has now announced it's bringing the App Store concept to the Mac and it looks like they'll be restricting apps with FairPlay DRM too for good measure. When we first began talking about the problems with the App Store on the iPhone and iPod Touch, people wanted us to drop it and stop talking about the DRM tricks being pulled by Apple on the grounds that the iPhone wasn't a general purpose computer (it is, and the iPad is too) but rather an appliance.
Update 2010-01-25: We will be meeting outside the Theater at 8:30am (Wednesday 27th), and will go until at least 10:30am. Stay tuned to http://identi.ca/dbd for updates and coordination.
This coming Wednesday, January 27th, Apple has invited members of the media to San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater to "Come see our latest creation."
There has been much speculation about what Apple will be announcing, with most of it revolving around a possible tablet PC -- basically an oversized iPhone. But no matter the form factor, it's all but certain given the direction Apple has been going that any new product will be DRM-infected and restricted by proprietary software.
The company who once announced to the world that they opposed DRM on music has been pushing DRM in every other area of their business. Apple's iPhone goes out of its way to apply DRM on every piece of software on the device, saying it is illegal for users to install software that comes from anywhere other than the official Application Store.
Can you imagine a world where this same restriction is applied to your laptop or tablet PC? That could very well be Apple's announcement on Wednesday -- their latest restriction.
As in the past, they didn't invite us to the event, but we thought we would go anyway, and bring some friends. We'll be there to warn the public and the media outside the event about Apple's support for DRM and proprietary software.
Come help create the counter story in the media -- take photos, talk to the press, and have fun with a little bit of theater to show that Apple is not the force for creative expression they claim to be.
We got through to Steve Jobs before on music DRM, and convinced iTunes to drop it. We know we can have success here. But we need to repeat that effort and show that DRM on Apple computers means that people who are actually interested in creativity and freedom will go elsewhere.
Press coverage of Apple events usually falls all over itself to praise the style and sleekness of their devices. It's vital that we be there to unmask the new product for what it undoubtedly will be -- another seamless case and pretty screen hiding a new set of restrictions and threats to the public's digital freedom.
We'll post the precise time and meeting location for our group here next week -- since Apple's event starts at 10am, attendees will be showing up at 9am, and we will want to be ready and outside the Theater by then to hand out flyers and talk to people.
I'll be there representing the FSF and coordinating the action. Please join us, and bring friends. Let us know you're coming at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll meet at 8:30am outside the Theater.
DRM Elimination Crew
FSF Operations Manager
Apple's lawyers, led by David L. Hayes of Fenwick & West LLP, claimed in comments submitted to the US Copyright Office that the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) system on the iPhone is necessary to combat drug dealers, safeguard the cell phone network, and prevent you from hurting yourself.
Here is an opportunity to have some fun and get answers about the iPhone, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
In every Apple retail store is a so-called "Genius Bar" -- a technical support station, the purpose of which is to offer help and support for Apple products.
You can use Apple's helpful online booking system (no registration required) to reserve time slots at the Genius Bar. There are currently 364 Apple stores in 13 countries, giving us plenty of slots to book. Several years ago, we held a two-day, worldwide iPhone Challenge, but you can keep up the pressure by continuing to visit your local Genius Bar and giving Apple the iPhone Challenge.
Take these three easy steps to give Apple our iPhone Challenge:
1) Book a 10-minute slot now!
Book online: USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates.
2) Let us know which stores you have booked using our online counter.
3) Microblog about this, to encourage others to participate
At the Genius Bar....
Print out our handy questionnaire and information about how iPhone 3G restricts your freedom. If you have access to a color printer, you can also print out some of our snazzy iPhone flyers to hand out to people outside the store when you're done.
Head over to your local Apple Store at your designated time. Be sure to get a business card from your Genius first and then politely ask them the questions. For each question, give them a score between 1 and 32, with 1 being a really bad answer, and 32 being an answer that really showed insight into the restrictive practices of the iPhone.
The total score will be out of 160 -- the IQ level of Einstein, a certified genius. Rate your Genius's iQ to the same score, and if they get over 130, they're a genius -- any lower than that, and they're screwed. Glory and infamy awaits!
If you feel your Genius did particularly well, or particularly badly, please let us know their name, email address, and the store address -- it'll be on their business card. We'll send prizes and information accordingly.
Start by introducing yourself to your Genius.
"I'm from the DRM elimination crew at DefectiveByDesign.org -- I'd like to ask you a few questions about the defects Apple has designed into the iPhone 3G."
Why do all developers have to submit their applications to Apple before they can be loaded onto an iPhone?
Most smartphones, including those by OpenMoko, Nokia, RIM, Palm and even Microsoft, allow applications to come from a variety of sources, including free software developers. Free "as in freedom" software development requires that users and developers be able to share and modify the source code for programs they use. iPhone users are not permitted by Apple to share or load modified versions of programs distributed through the App Store -- even when a program's developer wants users to be able to do this! Apple markets itself as empowering, alternative technology -- How does Apple plan to support free software development?
Why does iTunes still contain so much DRM-laden music?
Services like Amazon, eMusic, Napster, Rhapsody, Play.com and 7digital are all selling music without DRM. A typical response to this might be that Apple has no option to sell media without DRM, but this is simply untrue. Jobs is the largest individual shareholder at Disney, and he could insist that its films be DRM-free. Apple should be leading the way to promote DRM-free music, but instead is lagging behind. What is Apple doing to fix this? If it really is the RIAA's fault, can you tell me specifically what the RIAA said to Jobs when he asked for the ability to sell DRM-free music?
The iPhone 3G has GPS support. How can users be sure that the GPS cannot be used to track their position, without their permission?
When the only thing preventing the GPS from being used is software, and the software in question is known only to Apple, why should iPhone users trust Apple? There is a privacy agreement, but how would I ever know that the agreement was violated?
In 'Thoughts on Music', Steve Jobs said, "it is useful to remember that all iPods play music that is free of any DRM and encoded in 'open' licensable formats such as MP3 and AAC".
If Jobs really wants to see open formats, why doesn't the iPhone play Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora video and FLAC? These formats require no licensing costs, and are not encumbered by patents. How does Apple plan to support these formats in the future? Will Apple approve applications for the App Store that support these formats?
Last question. Why can the iPhone 3G only be activated by Apple and AT&T?
In the United States, the Register of Copyrights has ruled that consumers have the right to unlock their phones and switch to a different carrier. How does Apple plan to remedy this discrepancy?
Give your Genius their score, your contact information (if you want) and your handout, along with any additional feedback you have about the defects in iPhone 3G. Thank them for their time, and quickly and politely leave the store. Outside the store, distribute some of the flyers and spend some time talking to people about these issues.
Let us know how it went by sending an email to email@example.com with your Genius's information, score, and your comments.
Last night the DRM Elimination Crew attended the grand opening of Apple's new store in Boston -- now its largest US store.
The clear glass front of the store stands in stark contrast to Apple's unethical business practices, including using opaque Digital Restrictions Management software to take rights away from its customers.
It's yet another example of what we just talked about -- DRM doesn't just restrict copying of music files, it infects your entire system and turns it against you. Apple is explicitly preventing DTrace from examining or recording data for processes which don't "permit" tracing -- processes like, say iTunes.
The iPhone hype hides a basic problem with the product – Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) inside the iPhone means that it wont be under your control. Apple has built this “smart” phone to dumb you down. They also want you to switch your cell phone service to AT&T – who collaborated with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive, illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans' communications.
There has been some recent chatter on the internet about the possibility of Apple introducing a subscription based service. Steve Jobs may have just put that speculation to rest:
"Never say never, but customers don't seem to be interested in it," Jobs told Reuters in an interview after Apple reported blow-out quarterly results. "The subscription model has failed so far."
This was reported on CNN.
The WSJ's "Real Time" column this week is about last week's Apple/EMI announcement (you know, the one about dropping DRM).
Jason Fry observes, "First and most obviously, a major label is finally treating its customers like customers, instead of regarding them as likely shoplifters who should be given as few rights as possible."
Buried in the press coverage from Monday's announcement about EMI and Apple dropping DRM from EMI tracks in the iTMS was this quote from Steve Jobs:
"Video is pretty different from music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM free. Never has. So I think they are in a pretty different situation and I wouldn't hold it to a parallel at all."
About 3 weeks ago, we launched the Open Letter to Steve Jobs. Since then over six thousand people have signed on. Steve Jobs hasn't taken any action since his February 7 rant on DRM. As promised, we'll be sending him the open letter with our signatures and jesters hat on Monday.
Hold that hat....
This from Gizmo Cafe: An EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Meglena Kuneva, slammed Apple for it's DRM. She said, "Do you find it reasonable that a CD will play in all players, but an iTunes song will only plan on an iPod? It doesn’t to me. Something must change.".
As part of last October's Day Against DRM, folks from FreeCulture Harvard, Free Culture Boston and the MIT Media Lab, held an event they dubbed iRony to help people install RockBox on iPods. This short video explains the problems with DRM and iPods, the benefits of RockBox, and talks a bit about the event.
ArsTechnica has an article about Apple and the DRM conundrum. The suggestion is that Apple would never sell both DRMd and DRM free music side by side on the iTMS because of their commitment to a simple and uniform user experience.
Cory Doctorow had a great article in Salon today about Steve jobs tortured DRM position.
We couldn't have said any of this better ourselves. Here are some excerpts from Cory's piece.
I doubt Jobs' sincerity. I suspect he likes DRM because it creates an anti-competitive lock-in to Apple. I think he's trying to shift blame for the much-criticized DRM to the music industry, whose executives are twirling their mustaches and declaring DRM to be the only way forward for their industry.
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.
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).
[img_assist|nid=845|title=Apple Store 5th Ave|desc=photo credit http://diabloadvocati.deviantart.com/gallery/|link=none|align=right|width=265|height=400]Members of FreeCulture.org, New Yorkers for Fare Use and DefectiveByDesign all turned out for today's precursor to October 3rd.
WE talked to shoppers and passersbuy distributing stickers and leaflets about the dangers of DRM. Apple security didn't seem too happy with us, but the people we talked to were all interested and were pretty pissed to learn about the privacy violations and use restrictions of DRM schemes that Big Media are pushing.
On Saturday, September 30th, hazmat suited DefectiveByDesign members will gather at the flagship Apple stores in New York and London, These high profile events will kick-off awareness for "Oct 3rd, Day Against DRM"