Oct. 3rd – A Day Against DRM

Many of you have heard (or read) my previous rants about the ills of Digital Rights Management, but this bears repeating…

You don’t buy DRM-enabled music — you rent it.

Imagine buying a music CD, only to find that you can play it at home but not in your car or at work.   Or what if the CD did play in your car, but only for a limited time?   Well this is nearly exactly the sort of limitations placed on DRM-enabled (or as some say, “DRM-infected”) music that you "purchase" from online music services.   These services place tight limits on how you can backup or make copies of music you’ve paid for.   Perhaps worse, they also reserve the right to change what you can do with the music you’ve purchased — at any time.   Some music sites offer the tempting option of unlimited downloads for a monthly subscription fee but are a bit coy about mentioning that if you miss a monthly payment, the DRM renders the downloaded music unplayable.   So, what have you bought?   Well, nothing.

Defeating DRM is all about awareness and DefectiveByDesign.org has declared October 3rd as a “Day Against DRM” as part of an international movement to protect consumer rights.

And remember that DRM doesn’t only affect you if you pay to download music. Last year, Sony’s Rootkit Debacle caused quite a stir when Sony BMG music CDs were sneaking spyware onto unsuspecting users’ PCs.   Sadly, uninstalling the spyware opened up gaping security holes and caused serious stability issue with some PCs.

Quick tip:
Windows users can avoid getting nailed by this sort of malicious copy-protection software by simply holding down on the left shift key when you insert a CD into your PC, thereby preventing it from autolaunching.