[img_assist|nid=537|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=228]More than one thousand technologists in San Francisco wore DefectiveByDesign stickers proclaming their stance against DRM - that for free software developers DRM represents an attack on Freedom #1, the freedom to modify the code.
David Sugar reports from the conference: "Many people were walking around with DefectiveByDesign stickers.... I love this particular campaign. In fact, I believe it is one of the best grass-roots activist efforts the FSF has undertaken in recent years."
Bruce Byfield at Linux Journal writes "Starting from scratch, in less than three months, the [DefectiveByDesign] campaign has grown to 7000 members. This number is impressive, especially since the campaign introduces a degree of activism previously unknown in the free and open source software communities."
Bruce gives us his Five minute guide to opposing DRM.
Cory Doctorow has written a spot-on new column over at Information Week on how Apple iTunes' DRM is bad for business (not just customers). It's a great overview of the problems associated with DRM, in language that is fairly accessible. What's interesting is his tone, though, which seems to target big record companies -- laying out for them how their insistence on DRM is shooting them in the foot, putting them at Apple's beck and call.
If you couldn't make it to the conference call with Ray Beckerman, a lawyer representing clients in cases against the RIAA, you can listen or download the audio from Archive.org
Gregory Heller DefectiveByDesign Campaign Manager:
So without further ado I turn it over to Peter Brown the Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation
Thanks, Gregory. And welcome, everybody.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent list of "Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry".
An example for the RIAA is:
"DRM has clearly failed to stop songs from getting on file sharing
networks, but it does prevent me from moving lawfully purchased music onto my iPod and other portable devices. Unlike the major record labels, many popular indie labels offer mp3 downloads through sites like eMusic. Why won't you let fans purchase mp3s as well?"
An example for the MPAA is:
"Why are there region-code restrictions on DVDs? How does this prevent copyright infringement? Is it illegal for me to buy or and use a region-free DVD player, or to modify a DVD player to be region-free?"
Inspired by the entertainment industry's strategy of training children to accept their vision of a DRM'd future, a father in Victoria, Canada published "The Pig And The Box," a children's book all about how DRM is Defective By Design. The book is available as a freely downloadable PDF under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus license. I love that he's countering the actions of the entertainment industry by telling a story about DRM in the most literal way possible -- a children's book. As more and more of us tell a different story about DRM, our voices can drown out those who favor this insidious technology.
Free Software Foundation (FSF) President Richard Stallman, met with French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, and they agreed a joint statement. On DRM and the recent French copyright bill they say, "By giving a privileged legal status to digital restrictions (DRM), the bill "copyrights and related rights in the information society" (DADVSI) is going in the wrong direction. It will thus be necessary to examine from scratch the legal framework created by the DADVSI law at the French level and to contribute to the development of a European and international legal framework more favorable to the sharing of works and knowledge."
It's time for technologists and artists to form a coalition against DRMWith the launch of the Bono 10,000 signature petition, we achieved one of our main goals, discussion of DRM in the mainstream press. In the first 24 hours we had over 1,000 signatures added to the petition, and now we are looking to arrange an appointment with Bono.
One question that has come up is who would we send to represent us all? Should we send artists who have already taken a stand against DRM? MusicCreators.ca lists the artists Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan. Or how about artists who have been leaders in digital activism, like Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder, John Perry Barlow.
Bruce Byfield writes A coalition of public interest groups and academic privacy experts has released a public letter and background paper to the Canadian government stating their concerns about digital rights management (DRM) technologies and their legal status."
They write,"DRM is used by some copyright holders ostensibly to control access to and use of copyright works. In fact, DRM technology can be used to override fundamental privacy protections. DRM typically uses surveillance to monitor and collect detailed information about people’s access to and use of creative works.
One Freedom Fighter called up Peter Jamieson, the CEO of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Apparently, Mr. Jamieson had been getting quite a few calls that morning:
"He said that I was the 17th call he had received :) he sounded tired. I asked what he thought about DRM. He said, "I only found out what it meant a few days ago". I told him that I didn't want DRM in my music or technology. He said "DRM was allowing music to be made available online". I said I don't want locks on my culture. He said "DRM allows you buy your culture", and said I should "go and educate myself."
I think this is one of my favorite stories. Earlier this morning, a kind-hearted and intrepid Freedom Fighter tried to call Cary Sherman, the President of the RIAA, to let Mr. Sherman know about the dangers posed by DRM. This is his story:
"Spoke to secretary. The poor lady complained that she hadn't even had coffe yet and that it was too early for all of this. I asked her about DRM and gave my case concerning it to her. She said its been hellacious so far with the calls but that everyone have been nice and respectful. The suits are throwing their secretaries under the bus today."
One successful caller stayed on message with Graham Henderson, CEO of the Canadian Recording Industry Association. "I basically explained that I am a music lover who owns about 300 CDs and that I would like to be able to buy music online. However I was not willing to do that unless it enabled me to do the same lawful uses that CDs do. I asked him to reconsider his position on DRM and to ask Apple to sell DRM free music."
Way to go, Freedom Fighters! If you'd like to get involved, visit http://defectivebydesign.or
One Freedom Fighter reports calling an exec at the BPI in Britain. After leaving a message on the bloke's mobile, the exec actually rang back, confused, and "asked [me] what...was going [on] and why he had been receiving so many phone calls from "freaks" today. I told him it was [a] demonstration going on and that we wanted to express our hatred towards DRM."
Want to join the fun? Visit http://defectivebydesign.org/actions/freedom_rings_riaa
Jonny Evans, reporting for Macworld UK, places the recent DefectiveByDesign flashmobs in an international context: "The group is perhaps a little more savvy than European regulators. The group contends that by restricting how software or files can be used, DRM-equipped products are 'defective by design'."
A hilarious picture from the San Francisco flashmob on June 10th is up at BoingBoing. Freedom Fighters dug out the following quote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs: "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own." Local DBD volunteers printed the quote out as a large banner, and brought it with them to the June 10th event. Way to go, fellow technologists!
The quote in question, from a 2002 Wall Street Journal interview, can be found over at Macworld.
Over at NewsForge, Bruce Byfield gives an in-depth examination of the June 10th flashmobs organized by volunteer members of Defective By Design around the country. The article notes that, "DRM...is a complex issue," and quotes FSF Executive Director Peter Brown, who points out that the topic "deserves time and space to [be discussed] rationally. When this discussion happens, we win."
Brown also stressed that Defective By Design is a coalition. "We don't ask that everyone who turns up for these events should be aligned with what we stand for," Brown stresses. "A lot of people turn out to these demonstrations just because they don't like a particular use of DRM. Or they may have their own ideas about DRM. Defective By Design is there to be an action center for anyone who has a reason for disliking DRM. [All] we stand for is a very clear message: DRM needs to be stopped."
Once again, Freedom Fighters make the frontpage of BusinessWeek.com. In an article analysing the growing response against Digital Restrictions Management across Europe, Arik Hesseldahl draws attention to the successful, nation-wide demonstrations held on June 10th, 2006.
STATESIDE PROTESTS. As the outcry in Europe is spreading, there is some opposition to Apple's business practices in the U.S. A group called the Free Software Foundation carried out protests on June 10 at seven Apple retail stores in cities that included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle.