by Greg Farough on October 10, 2019 on Greg Farough's blog
Each year we stage the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) to help others learn about the dangers of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). For this year's IDAD on October 12th, we are focusing in particular on the increasing and disturbing amount of DRM present in ebooks and other online educational materials. Having so thoroughly invaded our leisure time, the digital infection known as DRM should not be allowed to spread into the classroom. Joining us in the fight for IDAD 2019 are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, and The Document Foundation, among ten other participating organizations we are privileged to have standing with us in the fight against DRM.
In a bid to become the "Netflix of textbooks," and like many other publishers, Pearson is doing the opposite of what anyone committed to education should do: severely restricting a student's access to the materials they need for their courses through arbitrary page limits, "rented" books that disappear, and many which require a constant Internet connection.
Publishers like Pearson should not be allowed to decide the rigidly specific conditions under which a student can learn. No book should spy on your reading habits or simply "disappear" after you have had it for too long. In the digital age, it is unacceptable for a publisher to impose the same principles of scarcity that would apply to a physical product to a digital file. The computing revolution was caused by files being shared, not merely rented. Imposing these limitations on digital media is an attack on user freedom, no matter how much corporate PR may spin the story. It's our aim to let the world know that we support the rights of readers. You could say that for IDAD 2019, Defective by Design has you covered.
We have developed a dust jacket you can slip over any "dead tree" book that you are reading to warn others about the looming threat of DRM. Whether in school, in a coffee shop, or on the subway, it is an easy conversation starter about the insidious nature of DRM. We encourage all readers to use them, whether on the latest hardcover bestseller or the textbook you use in class (while you still have one).
Defective by Design will be printing high quality versions of the dust jacket for every book shipped from our friends at the GNU Press while supplies permit. And true to our mission, we are also releasing the source files to these designs so that others may do the same. They are fully editable and shareable in Scribus v1.5+, so feel free to print, share, translate, and give away your own printed copies to readers and anti-DRM activists in your area.
Using ebooks for educational purposes is far from a bad thing: in fact, we will be bringing together the global Defective by Design community to help improve the fully shareable and editable works like those published by our friends at FLOSS Manuals. We're excited to be promoting an opposition to "locked-down" learning by staging a global hackathon on free culture works in the #dbd channel on Freenode, or our own in-person meeting to help edit these ethical alternatives at our offices in Boston.
Activists all over the world come together on the International Day Against DRM to resist Digital Restrictions Management's massive and aggressive encroachment on our real digital rights.
This year, we're confident that we can show major book publishers like Pearson that putting a lock on learning is unacceptable. Join us on October 12th and beyond in our double-fronted attack to tell others about the evils of DRM, and to eliminate unethical digital publishing by contributing to free and ethical alternatives.
Spread the message
Print and share these covers as widely as you can, leaving them as freebies in libraries, coffee shops, and wherever books are appreciated. Snap a photo of your campaigning in action, and share it to social media with the tags #idad, #dbd, or #DefectivebyDesign.
To help us coordinate year-round actions against DRM, join the DRM Elimination Crew mailing list.
If you would like to translate the dust jacket into your language, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to include it on the official Defective by Design site. We're currently offering them in English, Spanish, and German.
Protest with us on October 12th outside the Pearson Education offices in Boston, MA at 12:00, or coordinate your own local actions with us on the LibrePlanet wiki.
Join our remote collaboration session on free culture textbooks in the #dbd channel of the Freenode network beginning on October 12th at 17:00 EDT (21:00 UTC). Or if you're in the Boston area, drop by the FSF offices at the same time for a night of fun, refreshments, and old-fashioned cooperation.