Protesters provide a nasty "vista" for Gates
To schedule an interview about the campaign or for more details about the event, please contact Ted Teah at the Free Software Foundation (+1 617-542-5942 x20) or Henri Poole at Civic Actions (+1 510-684-3180).
Seattle, May 23 2006
As Microsoft developers gathered in Seattle to hear Bill Gates's keynote speech on the future of Microsoft and the coming release of its updated operating system Vista, protesters wearing bright yellow Hazmat suits swarmed the entrance of the city's convention center, delivering an unsettling message to the corporation: your product is defective and hazardous to users.
The surprise protest marked the launch of DefectiveByDesign.org, a direct-action campaign that will target Big Media and corporations peddling Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). "Flash protests, direct actions, and practical ways that people can get involved and help stop the stupidity of DRM," is how campaign manager Gregory Heller described the grassroots effort.
An initiative of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Defective By Design is urging all technologists to get involved at the start of the campaign. "Technologists are very aware of the dangers of DRM," said Peter Brown, Executive Director of the FSF. "We see this as the tip of the iceberg and it is our duty to do something about it." The tech community is uniquely qualified to lead this effort, in Brown's view. "We know about the collusion of Big Media, device manufacturers and proprietary software companies to lock us down," he continued. "Their aim is to put Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into all our computers and homes".
Brown's case is simple: the computers, high-definition screens, phones, music players and video players that are currently being sold are "defective by design". These products don't respect the user's right to make private copies of their digital media. These devices make no provision that would allow art, literature, music or film to ever fall into the public domain. Effectively, the media purchased for these devices does not belong to the user -- rather, the networking of these DRM'd devices means that as the user watches a film, reads an e-book or switches channels on their HDTV, their habits can be recorded and actions monitored. The result is that over time, DRM technology will negate, if not completely eliminate, the rights of the individual.
"In any other industry, such limitations or invasions would be considered major flaws. A media player that restricts what you can play is like a car that you won't let you steer," said Brown. "Products containing DRM are defective -- only, unlike other products, these defects are deliberately created by an industry that has long stopped caring about us."
With DRM in place, media conglomerates can change the rules whenever they want, leading to more restrictions on the individual.
"Media bosses scream 'pirate' equating sharing with murder and kidnap, then sue our college students. They then steal our rights and impose crippled products upon us," said Henri Poole, Chairman of CivicActions and a coalition partner in the campaign. "Media bosses have long been the 'gatekeepers to the market' for artists. Now they are threatened by new distribution methods that give artists new freedoms and direct access to an audience. DRM is the media bosses attempt to re-impose their rule".
Today's event is the first in a series planned by DefectiveByDesign.org that will mobilize individuals to make a stand against DRM.
About Defective By Design
DefectiveByDesign.org 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 http://DefectiveByDesign.org
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 www.fsf.org , is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support their work can be made at http://fsf.org/join They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.