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Re: [Drm-elimination-crew] Welcome to the DRM Elimination Crew! Introduc

From: Eric Mill
Subject: Re: [Drm-elimination-crew] Welcome to the DRM Elimination Crew! Introductions and an important question
Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 16:22:41 -0400

To my mind, the thing that has kept audio the most DRM-free space out there (relatively speaking) is simply that there are successful DRM-free services. I know right now we seem to be moving to a cloud-y space (Spotify, Rdio, Pandora), but if Amazon and Bandcamp hadn't set up successful services that exerted market pressure both on Apple and on the music industry, I think the situation would be a lot worse today.

Amazon MP3's entire modus operandi at launch was to provide a viable DRM-free alternative to iTunes, but I don't think they're still around *because* they're DRM-free. Since Apple started offering DRM-free music in response to Amazon, that's not been much of a competitive advantage, and they still do well enough. Plus, Amazon's role in ebooks suggests they are not exactly super emotional about eliminating DRM.

Bandcamp's success is more important, because it's an example of a service built entirely on self-publishing. It can ignore the pressure of contracting content from the larger industry. DRM-free helps, but their success is more obviously driven by how extremely friendly their payment structure and featureset are to artists. Not to mention: they do a great job. Their site is beautiful, their dev team is energetic and experimental, and their social features are unusually well executed.

This isn't really direct action, but I'd like to see high quality (read: well executed, beautiful, practical, showing signs of growth) services arise for direct distribution of things besides audio. I literally can't think of any. You guys know this space so well, I'm sure you can point me to a dozen services I'm not thinking of. 

But Indie Game: The Movie is a high profile example of direct video distribution, and they still had to roll their own high-quality website to sell their film, set up their own CloudFront account, etc. Googling around, maybe Chill would do that sort of thing for video now, they only pivoted to this late last year.

I think in the absence of mass support for boycotts, which I agree is implausible, we should form competing marketplaces that take advantage of the lack of DRM, and support those that exist.

-- Eric

On Fri, May 24, 2013 at 2:03 PM, Kẏra <address@hidden> wrote:
Thank you all for subscribing to the discussion list!

My name is Kẏra, and I'm on the campaigns team along with Libby and Zak.
I am also a student at Hampshire College where I study queer feminist
and critical race theory in relation to digital technology (especially
free & libre culture). In my "free" time I volunteer for the Free
Culture Foundation where I am on the board of directors. A project I'm
really excited about is something I founded recently, the Empowermentors
Collective, which is a safer space for intersectionally marginalized
people of color in the free software and free culture movement. I am
deeply concerned with DRM because it not only concretely threatens user
freedom and the success of free software, but also because it threatens
our society's ideologies and norms around media ownership and
participation. But how do we put an end to it? Please read to the end
for some important ideas and questions.

The biggest thing people need to know about DRM (and that we need
to be clear about in our campaigning against it) is this:

DRM is not about protecting against copyright infringement.

The argument that DRM "doesn't work" because people still find ways to
share media is moot because that isn't what DRM is for. DRM is about
controlling what legal downloaders can do with their files, and has no
impact on those who acquire their files outside of DRM schemes.

The clearest point that illustrates that DRM is not about preventing
copyright infringement is that people who share files do not do so
through DRM-encumbered services, they go to darknets, torrents, or their
friends. The files that are shared this way have no restrictions on
personal use. The user can do whatever they want with their files, at
any time, on any of their devices, etc. Users who get their media
through DRM-encumbered services on the other hand, are entirely limited
from legal uses of their media: when, where, on which devices, operating
systems, etc. they can use it.

What DRM is very successful at is limiting the freedom of anyone who
uses DRM-encumbered services, so that the company behind said service
can sell any and all (previously disabled) functionality back to them.
Because copyright already provides leverage against illegal
distribution, this means that the largest distribution platforms must
already adhere to the demands of publishers, studios, labels, and
software companies. This demand is often DRM, which allows them to sell
intentionally limited services and maintain their current monopolistic
(or oligopolistic) positions in the market. This is bad for independent
publishers, studios, and labels, as well as all media participants. This
is not about fair compensation, it's about digitally enforced

The questions we must answer are these:

* In each arena (audio, video, software, and ebooks), who are the
biggest DRM proponents?
* How do we make it clear that DRM is not something we will allow to
continue (target their bottom line)?

Petitions and letter writing are both appeals to power. They assume that
the DRM profiteers will be nice to their customers. We have seen this is
not how they operate.

Boycotting is only effective with mass support that we can't really
expect. The real problem is that boycotting puts the responsibility on
all individuals to abstain from supporting companies that use DRM rather
than using the support we do have to stand up and resist those

So, with that in mind, what forms of direct action can we utilize?

@konklone | konklone.comsunlightfoundation.com | awesomefoundation.org

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