March 15, 2005 | By Donna Wentworth

EFF to ITU: DRM Is Dangerous for Developing Countries

EFF is pleased to announce that we have submitted a paper to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN agency that advises global leaders on telecommuncations policy, as part of its survey of "Digital Rights Management" (DRM) technologies (ITU-R Working Party 6M Report on Content Protection Technologies). Our message: These technologies have been a disaster in the developed world and they are a disaster in the offing for the developing world.

"This paper is part of our ongoing effort to bring some sanity to the blind march toward DRM technologies," explains EFF Eurpoean Affairs Coordinator Cory Doctorow, the principal author. "These technologies don't work for stopping copyright infringement -- their supposed function -- yet they've served as an anti-competitive cudgel, a set of shackles on the public's rights in copyright, and a rubric for censoring and even jailing security researchers. EFF is delighted to be able to get this much-needed reality check before policymakers worldwide as they consider the question: 'Which DRM is best for my country?' Our answer: 'DRM will exact a punishing toll on your national interest and yield no benefit at all.'"

The paper, called "Digital Rights Management: A Failure in the Developed World, a Danger to the Developing World," explores the ways that DRM has harmed the developed world, negatively impacting scientific research, speech, innovation, competition, legitimate consumer interests, access by disabled people, archiving and library functions, and distance education. The paper goes on to examine the risks to the developing world in terms of its potential to curtail the public domain, to criminalize free and open source software projects, to enable region-based discrimination, and to lock local artists, authors, and performers into the monopoly pricing of DRM vendors.

We'd like to thank the Union for the Public Domain, the Open Knowledge Forum, IP Justice, the Alternative Law Forum, the World Blind Union, the European Digital Rights Initiative, Electronic Frontier Finland, and the Foundation for Internet Policy Research for their help and endorsement of the paper. If your organization focuses on these issues and would like to sign on, please contact us.

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