Impact of DRM on Free Software

Impact of DRM on Free Software

DRM and Free Software

Version française

This is a précis of a talk I recently gave at the RMLL in France.

I'm going to talk about the impact of DRM (and anticircumvention law) on free software.

Appeals about intellectual property (IP) are often made to the free software community on the basis of values shared by members of that community and those involved in campaigns concerning IP reform. In this talk I'm going to concentrate on the direct threat posed by DRM (and law) specifically to free sofware, rather than on appeal to those shared values.

The basic argument is that DRM hardware is going to be widespread, and that a wide variety of types of data is going to be subject to control via DRM, and that this will render the use of free software impractical in conjunction with such data and hardware.

There is no limit in principle to the types of data which can be locked down by DRM.

Software which is freely modifiable and distributable is incompatible with the operation of DRM.

Consumers might buy DRM hardware because it is the only way to get access to particular types of media

Once you have anticircumvention laws, writing a free driver for DRM hardware becomes illegal unless the developer chooses to produce something substandard.