May 6, 2015 | By Parker Higgins

Phase Out DRM and the Legal Regimes That Support It: International Day Against DRM

Ending the scourge of DRM has long been an important goal for EFF, and the need has only increased in recent years. As the evidence mounts that we're already deep into what EFF Special Consultant Cory Doctorow has dubbed the War On General Purpose Computing, efforts like the Free Software Foundation's International Day Against DRM take on a new meaning.

It's not just about what we can do with the books, music, movies, and games that we buy, though that remains an important fight. It's a matter of basic consumer rights and security.

In support of International Day Against DRM, EFF issues the following statement. It takes inspiration from a similar effort by the Free Software Foundation of Europe.

We live in a new age of user-driven innovation, as users take advantage of the freedom to tinker with their devices and bend them to new and unexpected purposes. Too often, though, that innovation is stifled or hampered by through anti-circumvention rules described in Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and codified in places like Section 1201 of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The harm created by these regulations is much greater than a few missing features. When we lose the ability to tinker with our devices—a category that increasingly includes computers we put in our body, such as medical implants, and computers into which we put our bodies, such as cars—we also lose the ability to trust the security of those devices. Our safety depends on the confidence that the orders we give to these devices will not be subverted by the law, by manufacturers seeking more profits from secondary markets, or by undiscoverable bugs in unauditable software.

And despite the demonstrated power of DRM to hinder competition, stifle user-driven improvements, and undermine secure computing, it’s proven remarkably ineffective at its nominal purpose of inhibiting infringement. One after another, artists, creators, developers, and distributors have come out against it—and the crowd is growing.

To mark the International Day Against DRM, and in solidarity with groups around the world, we call for an end to laws that prop up technical restrictions. Domestic laws should support tinkering, not inhibit it. International agreements should do the same. In a world made of computers, there's no room for rules that prohibit learning about the bugs in the devices we use every day. Governments can only secure our safety and security by encouraging everyone to understand, improve and repair the technology woven into the fabric of the information age.

It’s time to phase out DRM, and the legal regimes that support it.


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