I hate DRM. A lot. And while I started off hating DRM because of the ways it restricted fair use, the more I worked on the issue, the more I realized that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

DRM is not really a technology - it's a law. The digital locks on your devices can generally be removed, because preventing the owner of a device from modifying it is really, really hard.


Which is why DRM was a longrunning joke - the subject of a million snarky warez crack-screens - until 1998, when the USA enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose Section 1201 makes it a felony to provide someone with DRM-removal tools.

Importantly, DMCA1201 doesn't prohibit infringing copyright - it prohibits removing DRM, EVEN IF YOU DON'T BREAK COPYRIGHT LAW. That means that if you have to remove DRM to do something legitimate, you risk prison.


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Manufacturers quickly realized that anything with software in it - increasingly, that's everything - can be designed so that using it in ways that harms their shareholders requires bypassing DRM, and thus is a literal crime: Felony Contempt of Business-Model.


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We've had 22 years' worth of US experience with this, and it's UGLY. But despite that experience, other countries have followed the US's lead, adopting near-identical legislation, under severe pressure from US corporate lobbyists and the US Trade Rep.


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The latest country to jump off a bridge because America did it first is Mexico, where, on Jul 1, the Congress adopted a copypaste of the DMCA (with the minimal safeguards stripped out) as part of Trump's USMCA deal (the successor to NAFTA).


But Mexico's legal system has an important circuit-breaker built in: an independent Human Rights Commission that can send legislation like this to the Supreme Court for constitutional review.


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After an all-out campaign by Derechos Digitales, R3D, Creative Commons Mexico and EFF, we convinced the Commission to send this law to the Supreme Court, at the very last minute:


That triggered a round of Congressional hearings this week, where EFF lawyers Corynne McSherry and Kit Walsh are testifying:



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In support of our Mexican partners, I've written a lengthy history of human rights abuses that came about as a result of DMCA 1201, incorporating 22 years' worth of bitter truth about how laws that indiscriminately ban breaking DRM hurt human rights:



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Included in the document:

* Free expression (blocking fair use, allowing app store gatekeepers to wield the censor's pen)

* Self-determination (DRMs that allow sharing "within a family" get to decide what is - and is not - a "real family")

* Rights of people with disability (you can't remove DRM to block seizure-inducing strobes in video, or use text-to-speech, etc)

* Archiving (you can't remove DRM for long-term preservation)


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* Education (you can't remove DRM in order to study works, i.e. to remix a video in film class)

* Right to Repair (many devices use DRM to block independent diagnostics and third-party replacement parts)

* National resiliency (DRM means farmers can't access the soil data generated by tractors, nor block foreign companies from harvesting that data; you can't adapt equipment for local conditions)


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* Cybersecurity (researchers who discover defects in widely used devices risk prison for publishing their findings)

* Competition (DRM lets dominant companies block interoperability)

This week, I launched my first-ever Kickstarter, and while it's exciting to watch the numbers tick up (if you've backed it, THANK YOU!), the only reason I had to do this was because Amazon won't sell my audiobooks, because they don't have DRM.



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Fighting DRM isn't just about fairness - it's the fight between oligarchy (companies get to control their critics, competitors and customers) and self-determination (you get to decide how your tech works):



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As i understand there is a battle between libraries and publishers. It was all gravy when a publisher could sell 100,000 printed copies of a book to libraries, but when it comes to digital books they don't want any part of it.
LibGuides: Number of Libraries in the United States: Home

LibGuides: Number of Libraries in the United States: Home

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