Annual Day Against DRM

The music industry may have largely given up on digital rights management, a largely ineffectual set of technologies meant to interfere with the simple and ubiquitous act of copying digital files, but the risks inherent in digital locks are as present as ever. Film studios must think that somehow their application of this technology is different, that this time it will work. As book publishers experiment with electronic editions, they also assume any such digital versions must be locked down to prevent their livelihood from being stolen out from under them.

Thinkers much brighter and more articulate than I am have pointed out that strategies relying on DRM proceed from rather flawed assumptions. Above all other things what the personal computer, and its descendants like smart phones, does best is to make perfect, infinite digital copies. Coding a thin veneer over this is comparable to trying to contain a rabid badger with a cardboard box. It willfully ignores the inherent nature of the situation. Hence business models based on digital technologies would be far better served to embrace the very abundance enabled.

Sadly as much as DRM is still a live issue I suspect most readers, viewers and listeners still rarely run afoul of the arbitrary speed bumps raised by DRM. When they do odds are good it comes as a complete surprise. I still have conversations with friends and acquaintances on a distressingly regular basis explaining why they cannot freely move their digital files to different devices, alter their format, or otherwise make full use of the medias consistent with their expectation that they full own the files and everything it should be possible to do with them.

The Free Software Foundation’s Defective by Design campaign has set today aside to keep attention on the problems surrounding DRM. If like me out of a desire for harmony you’ve stopped harassing your friends and acquaintances proactively most of the time, a Day Against DRM is a good excuse to momentarily set aside that policy. People continuing to buy technology and media that contains DRM props up the content producers’ incorrect view that DRM does anything other than intermittently punish honest users.

Check out the Defective by Design page for the day for ideas. At a minimum there are plenty of very understandable hypothetical problems of which the average person may run afoul that you can share to make the point. While no one is advocating for piracy and the mass copyright infringement that entails, we all should have a right to own digital media and do with them just about anything that makes sense within the realm of personal use.

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