Launch of what the public should know about “Digital Restrictions Management”

Earlier today, a group of likeminded organisations and authors launched, a collaborative platform to share information about the impact, use and potential dangers of DRM. DRM is commonly discussed as “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) or “Technological Protection Measures” (TPM). However, as the experience to date of consumers and other users of digital content has been largely negative resulting in restrictions placed on traditional usages, opponents of DRM prefer to use the term .

Initiated by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), the aim of is to make more people aware of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and to enable the buying public to make informed choices when purchasing technical devices and media.

“Your devices don’t trust you! is the basic message of DRM”, says Joachim Jakobs, FSFE’s media coordinator. “In fact they have so little trust that they will not even tell you that you are under surveillance”. “The Sony rootkit case showed that software was secretly installed without the user’s consent, reported back to Sony and even damaged the Windows installation when being removed.”

Given the political and social implications of enabling vendors of computers, media players, mobile phones and other devices to control the behaviour of the device owners, it is no wonder that most want to keep DRM secret. An executive from Disney told the ‘Economist’ one year ago: “If consumers even know there’s a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we’ve already failed.”

In contrast, is based on the idea that the public should be informed and involved in decisions that will affect them on a personal level.

“DRM technologies are based on the principle that a third party has more influence over your devices than you have, and that their interests will override yours when they come into conflict. That is true even where your interest is perfectly legitimate and legal, and possibly also for your own data,”explained Georg Greve, FSFE’s president.

Other sectors also have concerns about the impact of DRM. Libraries are concerned about their ability to preserve our cultural heritage, to provide future access to public domain material and to exercise user priviledges under copyright law. “Libraries see DRM as a threat to our activities because it can undermine or even prevent legitimate access to and use of digital content”, said Teresa Hackett, “We welcome as a platform for public debate on these important issues for society”.

“ will put an end to the silence on DRM. You can help us with that task: download a web button today and link to it”, concluded Greve.