If people know about DRM, we've already failed!
DRM.info ends the silence on DRM!
Free Software is software that puts the user in control of their own computers and devices. In contrast, Digital Restrictions Management is technology to put the user under control of a third party providing materials, such as audio, video or text. These two goals seem fundamentally incompatible to FSFE.
Digital restrictions management (DRM), sometimes referred to as digital rights management, is a class of technologies intended to limit the use of digital media and devices after sale. In essence, DRM refers to technology which inhibits a particular use of digital media where that use is not desired or intended by the hardware manufacturer, publisher or copyright holder. Free Software is software that puts the user in control of their own computers and devices. In contrast, Digital Restrictions Management is technology to put the user under control of a third party: these two goals seem fundamentally incompatible to FSFE.
It is not only FSFE that sees problems with DRM. The German society for computer sciences ("Gesellschaft für Informatik") states: "If DRM prevails in the market then users will lose control of their computers". Symantec shares this opinion: "As a result, customers around the world will lose their ability to choose what security solutions they would like to run on their operating systems, and be forced to use only those solutions offered or allowed by Microsoft".
This loss of control means that publishing houses, TV stations, the government (including its administrations), banks, producing companies and individuals will not only lose control over their graphics cards, computer screens and hard drives; but also over their mobile phones, digital cameras and any other digital device they theoretically own.
Although FSFE is convinced that there is no legitimate case in which a society built upon freedom and democracy would consider it legitimate to put the personal use of one's own computers and devices under control of a third party, we cannot but recognise that extensive global legal provisions have been put in place to allow and enforce just that.
We therefore consider it necessary to revisit international treaties and national laws such as TRIPS, DMCA, EUCD and others, and will seek to do so in the relevant forums, even though it is a difficult task and not likely to succeed quickly.
Knowing the timescales involved and assuming that DRM technologies will not simply disappear over night, we propose the following concrete short- to medium-term legislative goals:
To address these issues and bring them to the public attention, FSFE initiated DRM.info, a collaborative information platform with contributing organisations from various fields, including Digital Rights, Libraries, Creative Communities and Customer Protection.
Visit DRM.info today and point others to the site by linking to it. Help us spread the word.
The portal DRM.info is maintained by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), which finances itself primarily through donations and contributions of the Fellowship of FSFE. You can also get involved as a volunteer.