Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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I think I understand your argument that someone who believes in freedom shouldn't restrict others from using DRM. However I think there are some practical limits as well. There are other perspectives which aren't all-together unreasonable. Should I respect the freedom of others to restrict my own freedoms? This is after all what DRM does.

Well no, it isn't what DRM does.

If someone owns some media, you have no inherent rights (except "fair use") to that media whatsoever. If someone who owns the media decides to grant you permission to use that media (for a fee or for free, with or without certain restrictions), then you're receiving rights that you otherwise wouldn't have. The only thing DRM does is make it hard for you to take rights that you were never granted.

Unfortunately some people don't understand the difference between paying for the rights to use something, and paying for ownership of something. For example, if you buy the latest Justin Bieber CD, you're only buying the right to play that CD. You do not own the music on the CD (and you can't do things that an owner can, like redistribute it, change the copyright to "public domain", etc).

DRM is factually being used today in the US (and maybe elsewhere) to prohibit consumers from excersizing their explicit fair use rights, should content distributors be free to do that in the name of freedom?

Just because you have a "fair use" right to use something, does not mean that the owner has to give you that thing in a usable form. Try phoning the local newspaper and telling them you're writing a parody of tomorrow's main story, and that therefore they should email you a copy of tomorrows main story. Yes you have a fair use right, but the newspaper can happily hang up on you while laughing their asses off because they are under no obligation to provide you with their content at all, in any form, despite your legitimate "fair use" right.

Obviously the question at hand is who's freedom should be respected? That's really the heart of the problem.

I'm creating a parody of your private photo album (pictures of your family on holiday, etc). Please upload your private photos to Thanks you for respecting my freedom to take things that are yours without your permission.

Obviously the owner of the content should be able to do whatever they like with their content, in the same way that you should be able to refuse to upload your private photos to

Ultimately, my own belief is that governments (should) exist to serve the public alone.

I agree (governments should exist to serve the public alone). However, the public are people who want jobs, that are hoping their superannuation is going to be enough for their retirement (which depends a lot on the share market). The public aren't just greedy little snots that think the world owes them everything, who throw a little tantrum on their birthday because daddy didn't buy them a new sports car, and whine about not being given permission to give their friends a copy the latest Justin Bieber songs that they "bought" for their iPhone.

- Brendan

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