Anti-DRM demonstrators in hazmat suits storm Bill Gates keynote

Protestors from the Free Software Foundation's excellent Defective By Design anti-DRM campaign staged a surprise demonstration yesterday at Seattle's WinHEC conference, disrupting Bill Gates's keynote. The demonstrators swarmed the entrance to the conference center in bright yellow hazmat (hazardous material) suits as attendees filed in to see Gates describe the new DRM features in Vista, the next Windows operating system. The message was that adding technologies designed to restrict the freedom of computer owners turned our beloved PCs into hazardous materials — technology that harms us instead of making our lives better.

Defective By Design promises lots more grassroots activism, street theater, and direct action against DRM.

Brown's case is simple: the computers, high-definition screens, phones, music players and video players that are currently being sold are "defective by design". These products don't respect the user's right to make private copies of their digital media. These devices make no provision that would allow art, literature, music or film to ever fall into the public domain. Effectively, the media purchased for these devices does not belong to the user — rather, the networking of these DRM'd devices means that as the user watches a film, reads an e-book or switches channels on their HDTV, their habits can be recorded and actions monitored. The result is that over time, DRM technology will negate, if not completely eliminate, the rights of the individual.

"In any other industry, such limitations or invasions would be considered major flaws. A media player that restricts what you can play is like a car that you won't let you steer," said Brown. "Products containing DRM are defective — only, unlike other products, these defects are deliberately created by an industry that has long stopped caring about us."

Link, Flickr Photos

(Thanks, John and Henri!)