As most of us are cooped up in our homes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it's somewhat natural that we turn to online movies, music, and other media to help pass the time. For most people, this involves turning to Internet streaming for convenient, "all-in-one" services that promise an endless array of recommendations to while away the hours. "Binging" is all well and good every once in a while, but we should remain careful that the ways we're getting our media don't come with compromises to our freedom. As we've mentioned before, Netflix and other giant media providers are responsible for keeping the practice of DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) alive, and it's important not to provide them with the subscription fees they need to keep going. It's also important, even under less dire circumstances, to support businesses and Web sites that provide DRM-free media, and to promote them to our friends. So to help provide you with a plethora of DRM-free and often gratis places to stream from while keeping your rights, here's a few choice selections from our Guide to DRM-free Living.
When it comes to finding good videos to watch during times of crisis, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Internet Archive. This section of the digital library contains bona-fide cinematic masterpieces like Nosferatu, as well as "classics" of a different sort like Plan 9 from Outer Space. Many of these works have been voluntarily uploaded to the Archive by their creators, or, like Night of the Living Dead, have fallen into the public domain due to some of the vagaries and finer points in United States copyright law.
Bandcamp remains a favorite when it comes to how to get your music. Not only is every artist, album, and track listed on it free from DRM, but it's a good way to support your favorite independent artists, as well as discover new ones. And while everyone's shipping might be a little delayed, many artists sell physical copies of their work on the site as well, meaning that those of us who prefer physical media don't have to be left in the lurch. Plus, it's worth mentioning that Bandcamp is one of the main places musicians working in the free culture movement go to share their works first.
Of course, you can also avoid streaming services that are compromised by DRM by simply going "local," using standalone video and audio players like the ever popular VLC media player or mpv to play your local collection of media. For diving into free culture music, there are few better places than Libre.fm. And if you're really ambitious, look into hosting your very own music stream for you and your friends using self-hosted tools like Airsonic or Funkwhale. Take that, Spotify!
Time under quarantine is also the perfect opportunity to learn about new topics -- even the fight against DRM itself! The [LibrePlanet video library] is an excellent place to find talks covering issues relating to the Defective by Design campaign, such as Cory Doctorow's keynote presentation on the "software you can go to jail for talking about", this 2019 session from the Library Freedom Institute, and a talk given on the Right to Repair movement.
No matter what types of media you enjoy or what your favorite genres are, your friends at Defective by Design sincerely wish you the best in this difficult period. And if you've found the information we've listed above helpful, visit this link to learn how you can support the campaign. In addition to our Twitter account, a platform we recommend only with caveats, the Defective by Design campaign is now on Mastodon at @endDRM. To show your support of the campaign publicly, you can use the #drmfree or #defectivebydesign hashtags from your own favorite microblogging service.
Happy and healthy hacking!