Worldwide community of activists emphasize the freedom to share digital media for International Day Against DRM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, December 16th, 2022 -- A global community of activists is taking part today in the Defective by Design campaign's 16th annual International Day Against DRM (IDAD) to protest use of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), a widespread technology that places unethical restrictions on how people access digital media. Though from different backgrounds, countries, and perspectives, participants in the campaign share the common cause of opposing DRM in all of its forms. This year's theme was the freedom to share.
Led by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Defective by Design campaign is mobilizing activists to spread awareness on the predominating influence of DRM over the public's consumption of media. The campaign drew attention to the need for "DRM-free" media by asking their supporters to share DRM-free works with a friend or family member. This was joined by a general challenge to go a "day without DRM" as a way to raise awareness for publishers and storefronts that intentionally refrain from using it, such as those cataloged by the campaign's Guide to DRM-free Living.
Typically, the FSF focuses on the way DRM is utilized as a method to restrict a user's access to software, for example, by means of TPM. For IDAD, the FSF has addressed media restrictions, such as those imposed on textbooks or via viewing platforms. This year's event was focused on more general access to music, films, fine art, and other cultural works. DRM is increasingly used to restrict access to cultural and educational works such as novels or student textbooks, even when "renting" digital copies from a public library. Unlike print books, which can be lent or shared at any moment, or even passed down through a family, digital media is becoming increasingly ephemeral and "locked away" in streaming services to which users have only temporary and fleeting access.
Citing the ethical problems with DRM, numerous independent publishers and retailers choose not to include it with the digital media they sell. This year's International Day Against DRM encouraged supporting these organizations and the sharing of digital works more generally.
"The value of the freedom you have to share a print book or a vinyl record is often overlooked. We have to stop taking it for granted that it's acceptable to restrict media with DRM simply because it is digital," said Greg Farough, campaigns manager at the FSF. "The Internet has afforded us an incredible opportunity to disseminate art and educational works throughout the globe, and yet large corporations would have us believe that traditional property rights apply. In fact, they would have us believe that the situation is worse, and that for some reason, they ought to have the ability to control our use, while constantly collecting analytics on who we are and how we engage with media. What's at stake is the original vision of a free Internet. As things stand, we're hurtling towards a dystopia in which corporations tell you when and how you're able to engage with culture -- and monitor you throughout the experience."
For this year's IDAD, members of the FSF staff also recorded an anti-DRM advocacy video, interviewing passersby in downtown Boston on their views on digital sharing and DRM. The video will be released by the FSF in the coming days.
Now in its sixteenth year, Defective by Design has a long history of campaigning for a user's rights to control their media and the devices they use to interact with it. Being the anti-DRM campaign of the FSF, it is inspired by the spirit and community of the global movement for user freedom. As proprietary (or "nonfree") software is the method by which most DRM is implemented, the FSF started the campaign in 2006 as a logical outgrowth of its mission to bring freedom to computer users.
The campaign's call to action was put out as part of the International Day Against DRM, but it nevertheless encourages its supporters to speak out against DRM in media any time they have the opportunity. Defective by Design's organizers are inviting other organizations and individuals to collaborate with them in their work against DRM, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possible actions. The campaign is funded by individuals who join as FSF associate members, and those who make a one-time donation. The FSF's year-end fundraiser, also themed "freedom to share," is currently ongoing.
About Defective By Design
Defective by Design is the Free Software Foundation's campaign against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). DRM is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media, creating a product that is defective by design. DRM requires the use of proprietary software, and is a major threat to computer user freedom. It often spies on users as well. The campaign, based at https://defectivebydesign.org, organizes anti-DRM activists for in-person and online actions, and challenges powerful media and technology interests promoting DRM. Supporters can donate to the campaign at https://my.fsf.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=40, and the campaign can be reached via social media at @endDRM on Twitter, and @endDRM@hostux.social on Mastodon.
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, and its Web sites, located at https://www.fsf.org and https://www.gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.
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