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[GNU/FSF Press] Oct 3rd - Day Against DRM

From: Peter Brown
Subject: [GNU/FSF Press] Oct 3rd - Day Against DRM
Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 02:19:03 -0400

Day of awareness to the threats posed by DRM

STORES IN NEW YORK AND LONDON: protesters label Apple products defective
and hazardous to users, and declare Tuesday October 3rd a "Day Against

As consumer frustration grows over the Digital Restriction Management
(DRM) technology imposed by Apple through its popular iPod and iTunes
store, 10,000 technologists are preparing to take direct action to raise
public awareness of the larger threats posed by DRM, with more than 200
"actions" planned across the globe on Tuesday October 3rd.

Events on Tuesday are being coordinated by a
campaign of the Free Software Foundation. Executive Director Peter Brown
said, "We aim to raise the level of awareness to the threats posed by
DRM technology, and we are calling for political action to curb this
gradual abolition of our rights".

DRM technology is a growing problem for all computer users and, by
extension, for all of society. DRM is typically used to restrict
individuals' use of their own copies of published works. To enforce
these restrictions, DRM software, and now hardware, must monitor and
control computer users' behavior. Frequently it reports on what it sees.

Consumers might be aware that iPod users are restricted from
transferring their music to other non-Apple devices because the music
downloaded from iTunes is encrypted - locked with DRM. Apple allows you
to write an audio CD, but will leave you with very lousy sound quality
if you ever want to take your music to a new portable device in a
compressed format. These drawbacks are of course there for a reason:
customer lock-in. Apple inconveniences its customers into binding
themselves to Apple products.

This type of nuisance is but the foreshadow of greater ones to come.
Standing behind the technology companies, the film and music industry
(Big Media) have set the agenda. To increase their control, they have
been demanding that technology companies impose DRM. The technology
companies, having themselves become part of Big Media, have stopped
resisting. Sony has become a film and music company, Microsoft is an
owner of MSNBC, and Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, sits on the board of
Disney. These technology companies do not represent the interests of the
technology consumer.

Big Media's agenda is to use DRM to deliver for them what their
political lobbying to change copyright law never has: they aim to turn
every interaction with a published work into a transaction, abolishing
fair use and the commons, and making copyright effectively last forever.
By accepting DRM technology users surrender their rights. That they are
doing this unknowingly or under duress, is irrelevant to the
corporations involved.

As an example, the campaign has drawn attention to Amazon's new movie
download service called Unbox, as it outlines what DRM implies for the
consumer. The user agreement requires that you allow Unbox DRM software
to monitor your hard drive and to report activity to Amazon. These
reports would thus include a list of: all the software installed; all
the music and video you have; all your computer's interaction with other
devices. You will surrender your freedom to such an extent that you will
be able to regain control only by removing the software. But if you do
remove the software, you will remove all your movies along with it. You
are restricted even geographically, and will lose your movies if you
ever move out of the USA. You of course have to agree that they can
change these terms at any time. Microsoft's newly upgraded Windows Media
Player 11 (WMP11) user agreement has a similar set of restrictive terms.

The trend we are seeing is that each time a user is forced to upgrade
their software, they downgrade the users' rights. Every new DRM system
has enforced a harsher control regime. Apple has added more restrictions
to their music service, and their new video service is yet more
restrictive.  This is not happening just with music and video.  DRM is
being applied to knowledge and information. Libraries, schools and
universities are adding DRM, sometimes under duress, often without
understanding the consequences.

Brown describes what this will mean for the future, "No fair use. No
purchase and resell. No private copies. No sharing. No backup. No
swapping. No mix tapes. No privacy. No commons. No control over our
computers. No control over our electronic devices. The conversion of our
homes into apparatus to monitor our interaction with published works and
web sites." Asked why awareness to these threats was so low Brown
responded, "If this type of invasion of privacy were coming from any
other source, it would not be tolerated. That it is the media and
technology companies leading the way, does not make it benign. Getting
Big Media to report on the actions of Big Media is one issue we face".

When users hand over control of their computers they invite deeper
surveillance. With personal viewing, listening, reading, browsing
records on file, it is likely that this information will sooner or later
end up as public record.

Users of free software - not controlled by the large technology
companies - have been alerted to DRM because of the threat to their
community. They can be locked out, and their computers won't play the
movies or music under lock. Products can "tivoize" their code (remove
their freedom through DRM), delivering it back with malicious features
and blocking removal. Groups in the USA like the RIAA and the MPAA are
actively lobbying Congress to pass new laws to mandate DRM and outlaw
products and computers that don't enforce DRM. DRM is becoming a major
threat to the freedom and privacy of computer users.

In September 2005 a Disney executive named Peter Lee told The Economist,
"If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works,
we've already failed,". A year later, the campaign hopes to make that
prediction come true on October 3rd, and is encouraging participation in
awareness activities through their website at


About is a broad-based, anti-DRM campaign that is
targeting Big Media, unhelpful manufacturers and DRM distributors. It
aims to make all manufacturers wary about bringing their DRM-enabled
products to market. The campaign aims to identify "defective" products
for the consumer. Users are being asked to stand up in defense of their
existing freedoms and to take action by joining at

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software - particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants - and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Their Web site, located at ,
is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to
support their work can be made at They are
headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.

Press contact
To schedule an interview about the campaign or for more details about
the events, please contact Peter Brown at the Free Software Foundation
(+1 617-319-5832) or Gregory Heller at CivicActions (+1 646-705-1604) or
email address@hidden

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