FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It’s Time to Destroy DRM

On January 20, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced the Apollo 1201 project, an effort to eradicate digital rights management (DRM) schemes from the world of Internet commerce. Led by well-known activist Cory Doctorow, the project aims to “accelerate the movement to repeal laws protecting DRM” and “kick-start a vibrant market in viable, legal alternatives to digital locks.” According to EFF, DRM technologies “threaten users’ security and privacy, distort markets, undermine innovation,” and don’t effectively protect so-called “intellectual property.”

EFF’s aim is true. DRM plays a huge role in extending the life of intellectual property monopolies and their evil effects on creation and innovation. Indeed, as EFF notes, DRM has become so intertwined with our society that a world with no DRM technologies seems hard to fathom. The debate becomes even more relevant given the widespread adoption of 3D printing, which is capable of making many “IP”-protected goods, and given moves by corporations to extend post-purchase control over those who buy their products.

Keurig, for example, recently tried to market a DRM-protected coffee machine that only recognizes its own “official” pods. Consumers weren’t too happy to find out they would have to hack their own spresso machines to brew coffee, since the so-called “2.0” pods weren’t available in sufficient quantities to satisfy demand.

From Apple’s cat-and-mouse race with jailbreaking phone buyers, to Amazon’s move into “exclusive” programming for its streaming service, to Netflix’s region-blocking (enthusiastically supported by the Motion Picture Association of America, a powerful US IP lobby), to rampant user control schemes by console video game makers, DRM has a long record of enabling predatory behavior by politically privileged players in captive “markets.”  The enforcement of “intellectual property”  claims has become so extensive and intrusive that “rights holders” feel increasingly free to interfere in production of content formerly considered fair use.

While corporations try to set up force fields around the content they control, users find ways to consume it without monitoring, breaking locks and sidestepping restrictions. While corporations treat their customers as potential criminals and try to control them at every turn, “pirates” supply ease and comfort.

The DRM world and the larger universe of state-granted and state-enforced “intellectual property” monopolies are black holes of inefficiency and bad customer service. It’s no accident that large corporations and their political cronies love DRM. They fear a genuinely free economy — one with no “intellectual property” and no “digital rights.”

Erick Vasconcelos is Portuguese language editor, translator, and journalist at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail