Year Without DRM

It's time for New Year resolutions and what better than to resolve to not purchase media 'protected' by DRM? Many of us already follow this rule but by pledging this publicly we can educate the masses.

"It is my New Year's Resolution to refuse to purchase any media which is protected by a digital rights management system. DRM restricts me from controlling my media and my devices. If I do not have full control of my device, I do not own it. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience purchase anything which is restricted by DRM." by Linux Journal subscriber and friend Colin Dean is a site asking the public to resolve to only purchase content which you control for devices you control. We've pledged, have you?


Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.


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I think that would include

Anonymous's picture

I think that would include any "legal" DVD rentals or purchases (gotta love CSS encryption ;) ), so sign me up! Of course, I've already been DRM free for years now.

DRM interferes with functionality

Chiron613's picture

The problem with DRM is that it prevents me from making legitimate, personal copies. Realistically there is no way to distinguish between my making a single backup copy of a product, and making thousands of illegal copies to sell for profit. DRM assumes the worst and tries to prevent anyone from making any copies. It works, in the sense that it prevents legitimate, legal users from making backup copies. So-called "pirates" find ways to circumvent the DRM because they have a monetary interest in doing so.

There really is no good reason to prevent me from making copies of my music for my MP3 player, or to prevent me from moving the music to a new computer when the old one becomes obsolete. Except, of course, that by doing so the music industry can squeeze more money out of me, which they certainly like to do.

My answer is simple. I won't use such products.

As for DVD's, the draconian measures used to "protect" them are ineffective. They only interfere with legitimate use. As one humorous site pointed out, you can sit through the FBI warning of the legitimate movies you buy, or you can do without it altogether with the bootlegged version. So much for DRM.

DRM-free music is no problem

derChef's picture

DRM-free music is no problem at all; I buy all my mp3s on Amazon; 89 or 99 cents per song, 256-320kbps, DRM-free.

If you mean DRM-free in the Linux Zealot sense of the word, then that's not possible as I am not going to stop buying DVDs or games. (I mean real games, not those "Hey look what I made" games that come packaged with Linux distros.)


Amcguinn's picture

I'm always willing to make an exception for DRM systems that don't work (such as DVDs as mentioned by crashsystems).

I've also bought a few copy-protected CDs that were easy to copy.


David Lane's picture

While a good idea theoretically, it, in practice, is almost impossible.

What do we mean by controlling my media and my devices? As mentioned above, this includes things like DVDs - I can only play them (although they are getting better about giving me a "hard drive" version so I don't have to actually lug the disks around with me). I have a pile of software on my desk that is protected by software keys and EULAs that prevent me from doing a number of things with them, yet, because I need to be productive I cannot not buy them. The same goes for music that I buy - the RIAA is being less than friendly about their "EULA," also called a copyright and when you get right down to it, even our beloved Linux Journal is protected by a number of copyrights and small print on the masthead that prevent electronic storage etc, etc, etc.

So, while it is nice to say we are opposed to DRM, and I certainly am, to say I would go without it is pretty difficult to do in this day and age where very little material is not protected in some shape or another. Basically, unless you are the originator, there is not much that qualifies.

(c) 2009, all rights reserved, side affects include blurry vision, a strong need for black coffee and donuts, your mileage may vary, but feel free to comment your little hearts out.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


Anonymous's picture

David Lane, what are you saying? Copyright is not DRM. DRM is the technical restrictions to prevent unauthorized use, such as copying. Copyright is the law that gives authors control how their work is used (copied). DRM is the way YouTube prevents vistors from downloading videos here. Copyright is the way Linux Journal has allowed YouTube to put those restrictions on the media.

I worry when even Linux Journal has trouble with the differences between DRM and Copyright. It is not legal in the USA to "break" DRM, due to the DMCA law. It is legal, in many cases, to make unlicensed copies ("breaking copyright"), due to the Fair Use laws in the Copyright Act of 1976.

Do what you can

Colin Dean's picture

It's a matter of personal choice. Some vegetarians are strict; while some avoid meat whenever possible. Sure, it's difficult to find movies and software without DRM in any format. Plenty of music without DRM exists. I'm a gamer--it's difficult for me to avoid DRM on games. I simply choose to buy my major market games through Steam, which, in my opinion, has the least invasive DRM. I guess I'll have to be creative this year.

If you have to indulge for one reason or another, then do as you must. However, continue to spread the cause and advocate the use of services which don't use DRM, such as eMusic and Amazon MP3, as well as the variety of non-DRM games. We'll all have to be creative for movies, I guess.

Is EULA = copyright? I

Snack's picture

Is EULA = copyright? I thought copyright just dealt with making copies. This stuff is confusing. :(

Commercial DVDs?

crashsystems's picture

I think that would include any "legal" DVD rentals or purchases (gotta love CSS encryption ;) ), so sign me up! Of course, I've already been DRM free for years now.