17.10.07

My stand on DRM


DRM - Digital Restrictions Management [1]. I'm getting known as an advocate against DRM systems, mainly because I often speak about this matters and act accordingly. Some people still get surprised to know that I don't get more Marilyn Manson stuff, nor am I going to his upcoming concert in Portugal, not understanding how (arguably) the Portuguese guy with the biggest collection of Marilyn Manson material stops buying his stuff just because of DRM. But what really saddens me is when people call my actions stupid.

I don't think I'm stupid, nor I think that my actions are stupid. I don't think it is fair to be treated as such. Not that I really care: I am free to do what I do, and I know I'm doing what is, for me, the right thing, so the whole thing just saddens me. Yet, I decided to write some topics on why do I do what I do in relation to DRM.

I don't give money to those I despise



The most criticised act I have in relation to DRM is the fact that I just don't give any money to DRM people. This means that I don't buy CD's for any major label or any other company that sells products with DRM, I don't go to concerts when there's a cut going to those companies, and I don't give money to them (or try not to) at all, including not buying a Sony camera, a piece of Microsoft software, an Apple's iPod, not going to Lusomundo's theaters and so on. I don't do that simply because I despise those companies or corporations and their practices. I don't do that simply because they treat their customers like criminals, and since I'm not a criminal I won't do something (being their customer) to be treated as such. People come out in a shock, telling me that this makes no sense at all. I don't understand their point. To me, what doesn't make sense is giving money to those I despise. There are hundreds of new stuff everyday I wish I had. I have lots of places where to spend my money, thank you very much. I'm still an heavy music buyer and I've seen more than sixty movies this year already. I wish I had more time to read. I don't need to give money to those I despise, I also don't want to.

I don't like social irresponsibility



Since I don't like social irresponsibility, I try to avoid it. I think that since we're inserted in a society, we not only have the social responsibility of trying to actively make it better, but, more importantly, we need to act according to our society, or else we're violating our collective freedom.

This is why I don't like what nowadays people call "piracy". Not because what is done, not because I agree that it is wrong (I actually think it is not), but because it is illegal. Cracking DRM schemes, trying to crack them, developing, distributing or inciting the use of DRM crack tools, heck, even trying to crack a DRM system is illegal in Portugal. Yes, I know it is ridiculous that it is illegal trying to see a movie you bought, or trying to do a copy of your legally bought CD into your portable music player, but unfortunately that's the clear truth. So, not only I feel that I have the socially responsibility to fight against that law and try to change the things as they are (including making manufacturers stopping the use of DRM or resellers stopping selling crippled media), but more importantly, I utterly refuse to commit the social irresponsibility of cracking the DRM schemes just because "it works" or "it is easy". Doing that would be legitimizing DRM, approving the existence of DRM'd media in the market.

Some people also tell me something that I really don't agree: that media providers such as the major labels won't ever let it go, won't ever stop doing DRM schemes, so I should stop whining and help finding a "middle ground" solution. Not only I don't think that the first sentence is true (as a matter of fact all I see is the adoption of DRM schemes falling as major labels are starting to see that DRM isn't worth the bad publicity it brings attached), but, most importantly, it doesn't really matter for my take on the second part: I refuse to help finding a middle term solution, because middle term solutions are both parts giving some, and since it is my rights and freedoms we're talking about, oh, I'm sorry but I won't give them not even an inch of those. Media costs money, freedom and rights are priceless. Finding a "middle term" would be, in my point of view, an act of social irresponsibility.

I don't want to be a slave



I could explain this item in an handful number of ways, but instead of explain it exhaustively I will just give you an example. Talking a couple of hours ago with Paula over the phone, she was facing a problem. She's going to sell both her laptop and iPod, and buy a new laptop in which she's planning to run GNU/Linux. The thing is, she has some albums she bought at the iTunes Music Store, and if she's not going to have an iPod or iTunes, she doesn't have a way to listen to it now. She decided "oh well, I'll just delete all this stuff", but I instantly felt both sorry and angry. I'm an heavy music-buyer and lover, and I don't even want to think how I would feel if I had to pick some of my music and get rid of it. But there's no other choice: in her case it would be either that or being forced to continue using her laptop or her iPod. I don't want to be a slave of some technology in order to listen what I legally bought and own.

I don't "shut up and shop"



There's an excellent Jello Biafra's speech called Shut Up and Shop, where he basically goes on talking about how media corporations or governments try to force us to do something, to buy something (material, like a CD, or immaterial, like an ideology) and stop being inconvenient. "Shut Up and Shop" starts with the sentence:
Global Warming? Who cares? Inxx sixth album is the fastest selling one in all time! Everybody is buying it, therefore you should too! Shut up and shop! Shut up and shop! Shut up and shop is the mantra, if you will...

I'm sorry, but I don't shut up and shop.

I care



Finally, I do all this because I care. This should be pretty self-explainable, but it seems to me that sometimes it isn't. Not the fact that I do it because I care, but because I really care. Most people don't really care, most people don't even care. Most people (that knows what DRM is) knows that DRM is bad to the consumer. They know that sometimes they might buy a CD or DVD and then they'll have to return it, or live with the fact that the CD won't play in their car, or even having to throw away the music they bought. But they just don't care. There's nothing wrong in that, but please, don't call "idiots" those who do.

[1] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/search/label/DRM