I do not like technology companies placing limits and restrictions on hardware and software I use. Today is the International Day Against DRM (Digital Right Management). I want to challenge myself to have a DRM-free Day.
This could be difficult working in the higher education sector. I don’t watch content on Netflix or Steam, so no problem with being locked down on these two platforms. However, a lot of ebooks and music these days are using DRM to prevent piracy, which is an argument I strongly oppose. “DRM is locking up the market for Amazon, Apple and Kobo“, said Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group.
A lot of devices and software implemented in the higher education sector are unfortunately “protected” by the DRM. For example, I occasionally fail to open DRM-protected PDF files even if I purchased or acquired them legally. I’d have to install the the latest Acrobat Reader in order to view these DRM-enabled PDF files 😦 ‘Fair use’ and ‘ideas sharing’ are out of the picture if DRM is implemented widely (see this article).
Copyright scholars have suggested that DRM was never completely credible as a weapon against professional digital piracy. Michael S. Daubs argues that ‘proponents of DRM in HTML5 essentially legitimises U.S.-centric copyright protections on a global scale and allows the future development of the Web to be dominated by a select group of media institutions‘. There are many other more effective ways of managing the rights of content producers.
For example, some book publishers appreciate DRM-free books: Packt, Leanpub, Manning Publications, OR Books. Creative commons is also rapidly changing the way we produce and consume content and knowledge. Indeed, having DRM-free books also means greater open access to a wide variety of knowledge and result in greater goods.
I hope this blog entry will contribute to a greater awareness of DRM, and lots of alternatives out there to help us continue to develop humanity.
All images CC BY.