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DRM - The Digital Vigilante

The Wiktionary states that a vigilante is:
- "One who takes the law into one's own hands"

When we think of this we think of mobs going around beating and killing people they believe have broken the law. In these cases the police usually treat the vigilantes as offenders and those the vigilantes persecuted as victims. This seems fair and just doesn't it? People shouldn't take the law into their own hands.

Despite the fact that the world's countries have laws, which are to be enforced by the countries' judicial system, many actively support the digital vigilante: Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).

From Wikipedia:
- "[DRM] is any of several technologies used by publishers (or copyright owners) to control access to and usage of digital data (such as software, music, movies) and hardware, handling usage restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work."

Thus a music CD containing DRM may limit the number of times you can copy the CD. You may think what's wrong with this? What is wrong with this is that it presumes guilt before innocence. You have exchanged money for a CD, thus you should own it and use it, you can make copies for you own personal use, so you may make a copy of the CD for you car, and make another backup copy and so forth - you can do all this without taking revenue from the music cartels, since you wouldn't buy other copies if this wasn't possible, you'd just carry the CD around with you in a safe case. By limiting the number of copies you are allowed to make, the music cartels are presuming that you will be guilty of making copies of the CD and then selling them on for example. With DRM they brand everyone who buys a CD a felon.

By branding you a felon without evidence and then punishing you, the user, with limits on how you use music you have bought, they act like judge, jury and executioner. They don't bother to verify if you are guilty of any offense, by having DRM on a CD they state you are guilty, and by limiting your use of the music you have bought, they restrict you freedoms which is a punishment. Thus the music cartels behave as vigilantes do - they take the law into their own hands.

If there is evidence one has committed an offense, one should be prosecuted. By this I mean you should have to appear in court, where you may defend your self and a judgment given by an impartial judge. This way people who are guilty get punished, but people who are innocent don't get punished.

But the vigilante behavior enacted by DRM is supported by governments, such as the on in the UK[1]. Again we see the deference given to big business with big money. They may act as vigilantes do, they may take the law into their own hands—they don't get prosecuted for vigilante acts in the form of DRM, but people get prosecuted for the circumnavigation of DRM [2]. If DRM were a baseball bat wielding mob coming for you, you have a right to try and flee them or defend yourself; but the courts and politicians are behind it all the way, leading to the death of Habeas Corpus for the digital world.

Thank you
Iestyn Pryce



You make a very good point

You make a very good point in a simple and concise way. The entertainment industry cartels have gone way beyond tolerable levels and bought governments on their side. So who's standing up against this? I guess it's up to the community of people and the few people in power with conscience to make a difference.

But some of the most powerful ways of opposing this is by showing them the better way by deliberately distributing DRM free music and making business on the internet that promotes alternative ways, DRM free, Free Culture.

Then the world at large can see who and what are these vigilantes beating on, and possibly gain enough strenght to succesfully oppose them.

We must make those in

We must make those in judicial/governmental power realise that DRM is a vigilante action. This will not be easy, due to the huge power (read money) of the digital media cartels. We must take heart from the failings of the US Prohibition and other such acts of lunacy with big and powerful lobbies. Failure of these policies was due to people taking no notice of the law, doing their best to circumnavigate it -- with modern acts of lunay we must do much the same.

It will be a long way to justice against these vigilates, but I do hope we get there in the end.

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