Anti-DRM cards to stick in your Netflix envelopes from Defective By Design

Joshua sez, "The Defective by Design campaign is sending a message (in the form business-card size letters) to Netflix, requesting that they stop imposing DRM on their online streaming video service. The letters can be mailed in Netflix return envelopes. This is the first step the DBD campaign has taken against video DRM."

When it comes to online video distribution companies, Netflix is second to none. They ship over 1.6 million DVDs per day to over 6.7 million customers. They now also make 5,000 movies and TV Shows available for download. However, there is a problem, these videos are tied down by DRM.

So, just as we've told music vendors that we will not and cannot download audio files laden with DRM, let's tell Netflix that we cannot and will not download or stream their videos until they remove the DRM.

Link (Thanks, Joshua!)


  1. Users of Netflix’s streaming service haven’t purchased the films, and there isn’t a feasible alternative for this kind of service right now.

    What’s the point in getting pissed off about this kind of DRM? I’m totally against DRM for downloadable content but when the only possible victory is dismantling this service altogether that’s kind of a hollow victory for the movement.

  2. What a great idea, this will really get your point across to the minimum wage employees that open the envelopes, remove the discs, and trash everything else.

  3. OK, OK, so the system is probably the best available to them right now. And the protest is probably a waste of trees, etc, etc…

    The reality remains, however, that the Netflix on demand feature (something that I DO PAY for) is DRM-crippled to the point of being unusable at times. I still can’t use it on my Mac (well-said CPT.) and the desire to watch a 20 minute episode of Fawlty Towers results in 30 minutes of muddling through the Microsoft licensing agreement, only to have to “reset” my DRM EVERY TIME.

    Granted, this may not be the most effective method of protest, but I’m glad someone is in the same mindset that I am and at least trying to do something about it.

  4. While I’d prefer something that isn’t stuck in windows media player and would work on a linux media server in my living room – there isn’t anything remotely like netflix service elsewhere and I’ve found it remarkably easy to use (though I’d like to be able to pick a quality level and have it cache enough movie to display at my chosen level).

    FWIW – I will never buy a blueray or HD-DVD player or movie because of the DRM issues, but there is a HUGE difference between DRM as a condition of instant on rental and OWNERSHIP.

  5. What an odd idea. I never have a problem watching streaming Netflix movies, I don’t begrudge the DRM in the least (it takes me at most 10-15 seconds and two mouse clicks before the movie starts), and including slips of cardboard in Netflix mailers to inconvenience minimum wage workers is wrong on so many levels.

  6. whatifhesgotapointedstick, you don’t actually pay for the ondemand features of netflix. You pay for the rental of physical discs. The streaming of films is just an added perk to your membership.

  7. Sweet! I’m also gonna print out business-card-sized letters to hand to the paperboy, requesting that the free coupons in the newspaper offer more of a discount. That’ll show ’em!

  8. netflix’s watch instantly feature works great. sure, you have to use IE to make it work but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work well. what’s the big deal? if you don’t like it, don’t pay for it. DRM is a problem when you it pertains to something you’re buying to own, not when it’s something you’re going to stream to your PC and be done with in a couple of hours.

  9. Netflix has specifically told customers who submit notes with returned DVDs that they don’t pay any attention to anything included in the return envelope aside from the DVD. You’re not even supposed to report DVD problems that way; you’re supposed to use the website.

    If you want to complain to Netflix, write them a real letter and send it to them at their HQ, or call their customer service and ask for a record of your complaint to be made.

    These little cards will do nothing at all except, as previous posters have stated, annoy the people who process the DVDs.

  10. Well, what are we going to do to get the Netflix player on Mac and Linux platforms? I watch the videos under a windows virtual machine on my Linux box but it is slow and jittery.

    I pay for the service, They should work to provide equal access to all their costumers. Until someone brings up a better idea on how to reach them I will be sending these cards back with my movies.

  11. @devoinregress

    How about this for a better idea on how to reach them: calling them at the number they have on their website?

    From, it took me 3 clicks (Help>Watching Movies Instantly on My PC > Something Else?) to get a phone number to netflix support. Call them and tell them your problem. Don’t send them cards that they aren’t going to read, no matter how noble it makes you feel.

  12. Honestly, I hate to see Defective By Design squandering its credibility like this.

    The method of delivering the message is broken, it only encourages material waste and political noise, and the priorities exhibited by the choice of issue don’t make sense.

    We need to focus on DRM that’s used on content we supposedly “buy to own,” such as iTunes movies or XBox Live download-to-own movies. This is much more harmful to the consumer than DRM on rented media — one could say there’s really no such thing as renting in a DRMless world anyway.

    DBD needs to take a break from all the breathless finger pointing of late and prioritize its campaigns.

  13. The one and only thing that would prompt Netflix to drop the DRM is if subscribership went down. Period.

    Sticking a little tag in the envelope is a) stupid b) a waste of resources and c) stupid. Yes, I repeated myself, because it’s just that stupid.

  14. Honestly, I don’t find it so difficult to click “Yes” and “Play” when I want to watch a film on Netflix. It’s legal, works well, and doesn’t really cause much harm to one’s system.

    Either people are being lazy, or just feel like bitching because they have some sense of entitlement over something they’re not paying for, anyway. And seriously, folks, if you did download it, how many times would you watch it? Once? Twice? If you want it so bad, go ahead and follow one of the hacks — by the time you finish downloading the movie you could’ve finished watching it.

    Clay (#20) has it right — focus on the DRM on content that you actually do pay for and should actually own without any type of restriction.

    And for those of you just angry that you own a Mac or run Linux, I thought I had read somewhere that with the open-sourcing of .NET it might be possible for Netflix to port the software other platforms. (Can someone confirm that?)

    The sad thing is that you can’t ever completely please anybody. Once they get what they want, they just keep on wanting more. (I can see it now: Netflix lifts the DRM, and everyone bitches that the quality is too low. They raise the quality, and they bitch that there are no extra features. Etc.)

  15. How about we bring the pitchforks and torches to bear on the issue of getting some captions on our downloaded movies, so deaf and hard-of-hearing people can enjoy the instant download feature too?

    Anyone for captions? How about subtitles? Anyone?


  16. I remember seeing some news show about how Netflix processes incoming/outgoing DVDs. The packages are opened by low-wage workers as quickly as possible. Think they’ll really care about the anti-DRM inserts?

  17. @devoinregress

    You say
    “Until someone brings up a better idea on how to reach them I will be sending these cards back with my movies.”

    Isn’t this rather like the logic behind DRM itself?

    Step 1: We want to… (get our message across)/(prevent people from copying digitally encoded media)

    Step 2: Someone suggests a method… (return a card with every return)/(cripple media files with DRM)

    Step 3: Someone shows us that this won’t… (get our message across)/(prevent people from copying digitally encoded media)

    Step 4: We decide to… waste our time and annoy others by persisting in the ineffectual method.

  18. Did anyone bother to read what Netflix has to say?


    “A key issue for delivering movies online is that the studios require use of DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect titles. And that’s our holdup for the Mac – there’s not yet a studio-sanctioned, publicly-available Mac DRM solution (Apple doesn’t license theirs). I can promise you that, when an approved solution becomes available for the Mac, we’ll be there. I’ll also say that Silverlight 1.1 looks like a promising candidate – but that its DRM isn’t likely to be fully available until 2008.”

  19. a pointless protest. If you really can’t bear to watch Netflix streaming movies vote meaningfully with your dollars, not some silly card.

    Cancel your Netflix subscription and obtain the movie in some form that is amenable to your need to archive and repeatedly view it.

    If you want the movie so bad why are you not just buying the DVD?

    Personally, I’m pissed that their streaming won’t work with Win2000 which is an otherwise adequate OS for me. But I’m not going to start an insert campaign about it.

  20. &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspI think its funny that one would be protesting DRM on video yet watching a DVD (video) which contains DRM. Granted a very small minority of Netflix’s DVDs are CSS free. The rest have DRM!
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspHow about you not subscribe to Netflix till they remove CSS from their DVDs. Why don’t you protest for disclosure of which movies contain CSS and which don’t on their website. I am very surprised that Cory didn’t mention that most DVDs contain DRM.

  21. sometimes i just like to watch the movie, even if it is a bad print, lousy cast, crap script, DRM, CSS, FBI, CIA, LSD, whatever, you know? but then, as a geeze, i use my computer for work and my teevee for, well, watching it.

    i may be ignorant, and Information Does, after all, Want To Be Free, but FOX and Unversal etc are money-making corporations, not your free minstrel show that you can watch a few times, appropriate the shuffle moves, and go on the road with yourself.

    having deeply-seated personal convictions about the technology issue de jour is the province of the young. everything i do work-wise goes through OpenSSL at some point. remember when crypto was going to be denied to the masses?

  22. acipolone@22: Just because the open source community has re-implemented .Net for non-windows systems does not mean that Microsoft’s Digital Restrictions Management technology and codecs automatically work there. And why would Netflix ever take on the burden of porting the DRM to other platforms? No, we won’t get the movies on our machines until the studios get it that DRM doesn’t work and never will.

  23. Protesting while still paying your monthly fee obviously does nothing. This is a stupid point based on simplistic, single minded philosophy anyway. This is a streaming service, not a download one. DRM on downloaded content hampers my ability to effectively use the content that I purchased. There is zero difference in the user experience between DRM and non-DRM streaming media – I’m still just watching the movie. I didn’t even think about whether DRM was involved in that service anymore than I think about if DRM is involved when I go to the local theater and watch a movie on the big screen. I just clicked on Watch Now and was happily watching my show. I didn’t for one minute consider that giving up control of my computer. In fact, I was in complete control when I chose what URL to type into my address bar and then chose what options on the website I selected.

    If you can’t use it on Mac and Linux, just add it to the list of software that doesn’t work on those platforms. When the install base is large enough and the investment makes financial sense, NetFlix will do the work to support them. If you don’t like that answer, start your own business investing your own finances, and stop thinking that others somehow obligated to spend their money supporting your silly causes.

  24. thats true, Knic Knic, most dvds have drm. i guess if its drm thats been cracked ages ago it doesn’t count anymore?

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