Letter: Stallman: Digital Restrictions Management fueled by ‘several separate conspiracies’

This article has been corrected. You may view this article’s correction here.

To the Editor:

In your article about my visit to the Yale Political Union, the photo caption got it backwards. I spoke for the resolution that Digital Restrictions Management should be illegal.

The article said I spoke of “a corporate conspiracy” to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). In fact I mentioned several separate DRM conspiracies.

For instance, the scheme that requires all BluRay and HD-DVD players to restrict the user is called AACS; the AACS conspiracy has a Web site, aacsla.com, which lists the founding members of the conspiracy and states the restrictions that any maker of players is required to impose. The conspiracy that imposed DRM restrictions on DVDs also has a Web site. The DRM that iTunes imposes on video was arranged through a conspiracy between Apple and various movie companies; the DRM in Google Earth comes from a conspiracy between Google and some satellite companies. These conspiracies do not bother to hide, because they know the U.S. government will not protect us from them.

The article defined DRM as a system to prevent copying, but it is much more than that. DRM simply means any feature to restrict users’ use of their copies of published works, and it can restrict any kind of usage. Even the practice of keeping your copy of a book for years, and reading it many times, is blocked by the DRM in some e-books.

Nor should we assume DRM means the blocking of illegal uses only. Keeping your copy of a book for years, reading it again and even copying all or part it are all lawful uses of a copyrighted work in certain situations; nonetheless, DRM could stop you from doing so.

Dr. Richard Stallman

Oct. 22

Stallman is the president of Free Software Foundation.

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