Online Discussion about Problems of DRM

International Day Against DRM

Online Discussion about Problems of DRM

A "hangout" organized by the Creative Commons Arab World discusses the problems and the issues DRM creates, and why DRM is generally wrong and bad for users and customers around the world.

On the International Day against DRM (May 6th, 2015), the community of Creative Commons - Arab World, hold an online discussion about the damages DRM creates. The International Day against DRM is promoted by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Creative Commons was one of the partner organizations for 2015.

The online session, facilitated by Riyadh Al Balushi, PhD student in copyright and human rights at SOAS, University of London, had Issa Mahasneh from the Jordan Open Source Association as speaker.

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is often defined as a technical procedure to protect copyrighted content, but it generates more problems than benefits, said Mahasneh, adding that open source communities, including the FSF, have concerns regarding the used terminology and utilization of the word "rights" itself, since DRM as a concept is more about "restrictions" rather than rights.

Mahasneh then said that people usually tend to connect DRM to copyright, although it limits users' rights more than copyright laws do. "DRM can stop running a software or playing a song based on the device used, which is a right of the customer, and copyright laws do not deny that right".

DRM generates technical issues as well, a well-known example was the "Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal", said Mahasneh, a malware that created security vulnerabilities, which was promoted by Sony as a method to not allow CD copying and cloning.

At the same time, another spyware from Sony was collecting personal data from users unlawfully, and following public outcry, investigations, and class-action lawsuits, Sony addressed the issue with recalling the affected CDs, and the suspension of any CD copy protection efforts in 2007. Mahasneh doubted the efficacy of any DRM techniques based on this scandal and its effects.

Copyright laws is often used to protect DRM and to ban any attempts to remove them, Mahasneh said that even Jordan's Copyright Law (in articles 54 and 55), like DMCA, prohibits any attempts to remove or to circumvent "efficient technological measures". Jordan was forced to amend its copyright law and to add these articles after its Free Trade Agreement was signed with the United States of America, unfortunately, several countries in the global south were pushed to do the same, said Mahasneh.

The hangout is recorded and can be watched in full here:

If you are interested in Creative Commons Arab World hangouts, check all the videos on their Youtube channel.

(Photo credits: CC-BY chegs)