Today is the seventh annual International Day Against DRM (Digital Rights Management). If you’re not familiar with DRM, it’s the technology that keeps you from truly owning your digital content. It’s region-specific DVDs and music that plays only on a specific device or a certain number of times, books you can’t let a friend borrow and all the content you think you own but is really still controlled by a company.
If you think it’s not such a big deal because all they’re doing is trying to prevent piracy, read Ernest Miller’s response to the former head of the RIAA (which has fought tooth and nail for DRM) complaining that she can only play iTunes store music on her iPod. “You can’t have it both ways Miss Rosen. If you want DRM, someone is going to have to control that DRM. And if you don’t think they won’t use that control to their ultimate advantage, you obviously didn’t learn anything from your association with the music industry.” Then read some of Cory Doctorow’s writing on the subject (there’s plenty more where that came from with a little help from your search bar!).
Of course, there is DRM-free content out there, and today is a perfect day to show the companies that sell it your support.
- O’Reilly, which writes today, “Having the ability to download files at your convenience, store them on all your devices, or share them with a friend or colleague as you would a print book is liberating, and is how it should be,” offers all of its books DRM-free, and today you can use the code DRM2013 to get 50% off all of their ebooks and videos. May I suggest Vintage Tomorrows, which I recommended in another post today?
- No Starch Press explains, “We’ve always offered DRM-free ebooks because we trust our readers and we believe that electronic books should have the same reader rights as printed books.” You can also get 50% off of their ebooks today with the code DRMFREE. What a perfect time to pick up Python for Kids!
- GOG games are always DRM-free.
- Tor and Forge went DRM-free last year
But what’s most important for this year’s Day Against DRM isn’t movies or books. It’s the way you interact with the entire internet. There are efforts to get DRM into HTML5. Read this post from the Free Culture Foundation to better understand why that’s a huge problem for the future of the web.
For more on the history of DRM in music and video, read my two-part timeline:
- The DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music
- The DRM graveyard part 2: A brief history of digital rights management in video and TV
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s International Day Against DRM site has suggestions for other ways you can participate today.