[FSFE PR][EN] [GNU/FSF Press] Protesters Provide a Nasty "Vista" for Gates

John Sullivan johns at fsf.org
Tue May 23 17:39:02 CEST 2006

Microsoft Developers As They Gather For Annual Conference

----Seattle, May 23, 2006

As Microsoft developers gathered in Seattle to hear Bill Gates's keynote
speech on the future of Microsoft and the coming release of its updated
operating system Vista, protesters wearing bright yellow Hazmat suits
swarmed the entrance of the city's convention center, delivering an
unsettling message to the corporation: your product is defective and
hazardous to users.

The surprise protest marked the launch of DefectiveByDesign.org, a
direct-action campaign that will target Big Media and corporations
peddling Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). "Flash protests, direct
actions, and practical ways that people can get involved and help stop
the stupidity of DRM," is how campaign manager Gregory Heller described
the grassroots effort.

An initiative of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Defective By
Design is urging all technologists to get involved at the start of the
campaign. "Technologists are very aware of the dangers of DRM," said
Peter Brown, Executive Director of the FSF. "We see this as the tip of
the iceberg and it is our duty to do something about it." The tech
community is uniquely qualified to lead this effort, in Brown's view.
"We know about the collusion of Big Media, device manufacturers and
proprietary software companies to lock us down," he continued. "Their
aim is to put Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into all our
computers and homes".

Brown's case is simple: the computers, high-definition screens, phones,
music players and video players that are currently being sold are
"defective by design". These products don't respect the user's right to
make private copies of their digital media. These devices make no
provision that would allow art, literature, music or film to ever fall
into the public domain. Effectively, the media purchased for these
devices does not belong to the user -- rather, the networking of these
DRM'd devices means that as the user watches a film, reads an e-book or
switches channels on their HDTV, their habits can be recorded and
actions monitored. The result is that over time, DRM technology will
negate, if not completely eliminate, the rights of the individual.

"In any other industry, such limitations or invasions would be
considered major flaws. A media player that restricts what you can play
is like a car that you won't let you steer," said Brown. "Products
containing DRM are defective -- only, unlike other products, these
defects are deliberately created by an industry that has long stopped
caring about us."

With DRM in place, media conglomerates can change the rules whenever
they want, leading to more restrictions on the individual.

"Media bosses scream 'pirate' equating sharing with murder and kidnap,
then sue our college students. They then steal our rights and impose
crippled products upon us," said Henri Poole, Chairman of CivicActions
and a coalition partner in the campaign. "Media bosses have long been
the 'gatekeepers to the market' for artists. Now they are threatened by
new distribution methods that give artists new freedoms and direct
access to an audience. DRM is the media bosses attempt to re-impose
their rule".

Today's event is the first in a series planned by DefectiveByDesign.org
that will mobilize individuals to make a stand against DRM.


About Defective By Design

DefectiveByDesign.org is a broad-based, anti-DRM campaign that is
targeting Big Media, unhelpful manufacturers and DRM distributors. It
aims to make all manufacturers wary about bringing their DRM-enabled
products to market. The campaign aims to identify "defective" products
for the consumer. Users are being asked to stand up in defense of their
existing freedoms and to take action by joining at

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software - particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants - and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Their Web site, located at www.fsf.org ,
is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to
support their work can be made at http://fsf.org/join They are
headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.


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