Today is International Day Against DRM! On this day, people and organizations around the world come together to proclaim “hell no!” to Digital Rights Management (AKA Digital Restrictions Management). Learn more about the day and how to take action, small ones and big ones, on the Defective by Design website.
And here’s the neat part (to win over librarian hearts). Publishers are participating by offering DRM-free media at a substantial discount:
- O’Reilly – 50-60% off ebooks
- Humble Bundle – pay-what-you-want graphic novels
- No Starch Press – 50% off ebooks
- Packt Publishing – $10 off ebooks and videos
Why, as a librarian, am I vehemently opposed to digital rights management? Oh, let me count the reasons why:
- Consumers, and libraries by extension, should have the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software we choose.
- DRM inhibits the free exchange of ideas, literature, and information.
- As customers, we are entitled to be treated with respect and not as potential criminals. If you buy a physical version of a song or movie, you are warned about the law, but generally trusted to follow it. If you buy a digital version, however, the DRM code forces compliance.
- I am concerned about the future of access to digital information that is locked down with proprietary software or formats.
- Right now, libraries are coming down on the wrong side of this debate—not the side of content delivery, accessibility, and customer service, like we should. We should be demanding DRM-free digital content from all vendors. Instead, we limit content to a select group of our users.
- Oh, did I mention DRM doesn’t even work? An 8 year old can break it faster than you can say “noooooooo!”
Librarians have cared about access to digital content since digital content was invented. We have worked to educate staff and customers. We have asked for leadership from our professional organizations in legislating change or working with the Librarian of Congress to make effective changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Should you be against digital rights management? That’s up to you. If you believe in the role libraries play as preservationists of our cultural heritage, then yes. I believe you should be anti-DRM. If you believe that information should be freely accessible to all and not dependent on devices, software, or versioning, then yes. I believe you should be anti-DRM. But you know, it’s up to you and everything. o.O