March 15, 2016 | By Cory Doctorow

Tell Us Your DRM Horror Stories about Ebooks, Games, Music, Movies and the Internet of Things!

Have you ever bought music, movies, games, ebooks, or gadgets, only to discover later that the product had been deliberately limited with Digital Rights Management? We want to hear from you!

We're preparing a petition to a government agency on fair labelling practices for DRM-restricted devices, products and services. DRM used to be limited to entertainment products, but it's spread with the Internet of Things, and it's turning up in the most unlikely of places. As the Copyright Office heard during last summer's hearings, DRM is now to be found in cars and tractors, in insulin pumps and pacemakers, even in voting machines. What's more, the manufacturers using DRM believe that they have the right to invoke the "anti-circumvention" rules in 1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent competitors from removing DRM in order to give you more choice about the products you own.

We believe this is an abusive extension of copyright law and that the law should protect businesses and individuals that remove digital locks for lawful purposes -- for example, your mechanic should be able to diagnose your car's problems and install aftermarket parts rather than being locked out of the vehicle's computers and stuck with using original parts at inflated prices.

Just as fundamental, though, is the right to know what you're buying. When you shop online or in person, it's often almost impossible to tell which products have DRM and what restrictions that DRM imposes on you after you've made your purchase.

We're collecting your DRM gotcha stories. Specifically, we're looking for cases where:

  • Someone in the USA;
  • Bought a product, service, or device;
  • That had DRM (a technological barrier that restricted your ability to access code or other content stored on your device);
  • Where the DRM's existence and extent were not disclosed;
  • (Or inadequately disclosed)
  • And that caused trouble later.

Maybe you bought an ebook thinking you could use it on a rival ebook reader, or a game that you thought you could play on a friend's console, or a movie you thought you could take with you overseas, or a device you thought you could get repaired by a business of your choosing, only to discover that you had bought something with DRM that prohibited something you reasonably expected you'd be able to do.

If you have a story like this, and you are willing to go on the record with it, get in touch!

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