Sunil Thakare :: Open Source Evangelist

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DRM : Restrictions on Privacy and Freedom?

DRM : Restrictions on Privacy and Freedom?

What is DRM?

Digital Rights (or Restriction!) Management (DRM) is an access control technology used by hardware, software, operating systems, satellite television, copyright holders etc. to restrict digital content. The general use of DRM to copy-protect the product by means of serial numbers, CD-keys, key files, on-line verification etc. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon etc. incorporated DRM in their systems and products.

DRM Controversy:

Companies who use DRM claim that it is necessary to implement to fight against copyrights to ensure continues flow of revenue. While using such DRM, the privacy of users is not respected. DRM collects user’s personal data like name, contact details, private numbers, hardware configuration, important data etc. DRM also restrict the user to listen music, un-branded DVDs, copyrighted material. They put restrictions on software and its use. Example of this: most of the music files are in mp3 format. The mp3 audio format is proprietary format due to this to play mp3 files user required to install mp3 codec from the net or to download pirated codec to play such files. Windows collects such piracy operation details without your knowledge and sends to their data collection center as soon as you get connected to internet. This is very ridiculous that your personal computer information is sent to their servers without your permission by a way of DRM. Windows 7 is serious implementation of DRM. Another example of this is that the Amazon Kindle. It is an e-book reading computer that poses very serious dangers to society. When you purchase a Kindle, you are subject to Amazon’s Digital Restriction Management (DRM), a system designed to take away rights you would typically have when reading a book. Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation says: “This malicious device designed to attack the traditional freedoms of readers: There’s the freedom to acquire a book anonymously, paying cash — impossible with the Kindle for all well-known recent books. There’s the freedom to give, lend, or sell a book to anyone you wish — blocked by DRM and unjust licenses. Then there’s the freedom to keep a book — denied by a back door for remote deletion of books.” Your basic rights to share, sell, or donate a book are subject to fights with Amazon over the legal and technological restrictions they try to impose. If you try to exercise these rights anyway, you might be violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — which could bring severe criminal penalties — and Amazon can try to revoke your ability to use all the books you’ve bought.


Apple i–s?

Are crazy about Apple’s i-pod, i-pad, i-phone4? then wait, you are victim of DRM. Better option is Android based smart phones launched by Samsung, LG etc. Also Samsung galaxy-tab is much better than i-pad and doesn’t impose DRM on users.


The MPEG4, H.264 v/s VP8, OGG:

Most of new generation mobile phones, digital cameras, portable video recorders, Television DVB/Rs are users of patented MPEG4 and H.264 video compression technology who impose DRM on users. Due to this, Google has removed support for MPEG4 / H.264 for high-definition (HD) movies on Youtube. VP8 and OGG Theora is an Open-Source option to eradicate restricitons of DRM. VP8 is developed by Google under BSD Open License. No restriction on users and no DRM. Blu-ray discs are proprietary disks to store HD video of proprietary format. Blu-ray imposes various restrictions on users.


Who should your computer take its orders from?

Most people think their PC should obey them. Right? No. Wrong. Your PC is driven by companies like Apple, Microsoft, IBM etc. for which you pay. Microsoft has tie-ups with many companies like HP, Cannon, Sony to use their hardware and impose restrictions on its use. You may find most of PC accessories are written a dialog “Designed for Microsoft Windows”. What does it mean? Answer is DRM and lots of money and continues revenue generation from users.


Want escape from DRM? What should I do?

  1. Don’t purchase such hardware who imposes DRM
  2. Go for open-source operating systems like Linux, OpenBSD, OpenSolaris etc.
  3. Don’t accept hardware with “Designed for…” logo
  4. Boycott CDs and DVD’s with DRM, and download music and video from sites that don’t force DRM upon you.

Note: Most of the hardware run perfectly in Linux without drivers.

Which hardware I should purchase?

Now-a-days most of the hardware companies are releasing non-os versions or linux-based PCs and Laptops in the market. Remember if you purchase “Designed for…” or pre-loaded proprietary OS hardware, you have to pay license cost of OS and DRM restrictions on use.


Best combination? Hardware + Free Software:

  • For desktop computing: AMD/Intel based PCs with any flavor of Desktop Linux
  • For serious server users: AMD + CentOS / Ubuntu Server / OpenSUSE server edition.
  • For film makers: Intel / AMD + Medibuntu / Ubuntu Studio
  • For 3D animation: AMD + Ubuntu + Blender
  • For serious multimedia users / developers: AMD + Ubuntu Studio
  • Scientific Computing: AMD / Intel i5 + Ubuntu 64-bit LTS version with Eclipse Studio + GNU compiler (C/C++/FORTRAN 64 BIT compilation) + Python


Believe me or not?

Ubuntu 64-BIT desktop version which is free is much better than newest Windows 7 version whose 64-bit version is seriously unstable. Use Linux: No virus, no spams, no DRM, Safe browsing, safe social networking and safe internet based money transactions and no worries!


Say no to DRM save yourself.




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