Vendor lock-in, DRM, and crappy EULAs are turning America's independent farmers into tenant farmers

"Precision agriculture" is to farmers as Facebook is to publishers: farmers who want to compete can't afford to boycott the precision ag platforms fielded by the likes of John Deere, but once they're locked into the platforms' walled gardens, they are prisoners, and the platforms start to squeeze them for a bigger and bigger share of their profits. Read the rest

Lobbyists release push-poll in an effort to tank Right to Repair bills and control independent security research

The Security Innovation Center is a lobbying group backed by CompTIA, CTIA, TechNet and the Consumer Technology Association for the express purpose of fighting laws that would legalize repairing your own property, or choosing to have it repaired by third parties. Read the rest

The Copyright Office is spending the year deciding technology's future, but the future doesn't get a seat at the table

Every three years, the US Copyright Office creates temporary exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on breaking DRM, provided that people can show that they've been prevented from doing something customary and legitimate with their own property. Read the rest

Since 1998, using your own property has required regulatory permission and the ability to make your own jailbreaking tools from scratch

In Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? -- a new post on EFF's Deeplinks blog -- I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now. Read the rest

EFF tells the Copyright Office: we don't know how to make voice assistants better, but here's how not to make them worse

Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks for proposals for exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM; in 2015, the Electronic Frontier Foundation won a broad "jailbreaking" exemption to modify the firmware of phones and tablets; this year, we're asking for that permission to be extended to smart speakers like Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePods, and the smaller players in the market. Read the rest

Documentary on the DRM-breaking farmers who just want to fix their tractors, even if they have to download bootleg Ukrainian firmware to do it

Motherboard's short documentary, "Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech's Repair Monopoly" is an excellent look at the absurd situation created by John Deere's position that you can't own your tractor because you only license the software inside it, meaning that only Deere can fix Deere's tractors, and the centuries-old tradition of farmers fixing their agricultural equipment should end because Deere's shareholders would prefer it that way. Read the rest

Announcing the Catalog of Missing Devices: the amazing stuff the DMCA has strangled in its cradle

For a couple years now, I've been collaborating with EFF to produce a Catalog of Missing Devices: products that do something legal and useful and desirable, but don't exist because to make them, you'd have to break DRM, something US law bans. Read the rest

The year in DRM: seven rotten moments and two rays of hope

My end-of-the-year roundup the year in DRM for EFF's Deeplinks blog hits seven lowlights, from the catastrophic (the W3C greenlighting DRM for the web) to the idiotic ( Read the rest

EFF to US Copyright Office: fix the DRM rules that stop us from fixing our stuff, make fair use, and make IoT gadgets work the way we want

Section 1201 of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) give DRM incredible protections: it's illegal to bypass DRM in products you own, for legal purposes, and merely investigating or revealing defects in products with DRM can land you in jail. Read the rest

One of the net's most important freedom canaries died the day the W3C greenlit web-wide DRM; what can we learn from the fight?

EFF's long, hard-fought campaign at the World Wide Web Consortium over its plan to standardize a universal DRM for the web was always a longshot, but we got farther than anyone dared hope before we lost the web to corporate interests and cynical indifference in September. Read the rest

Researchers craft Android app that reveals menagerie of hidden spyware; legally barred from doing the same with iOS

Yale Privacy Lab and Exodus Privacy's devastating report on the dozens of invasive, dangerous "trackers" hidden in common Android apps was generated by writing code that spied on their target devices' internal operations, uncovering all manner of sneaking trickery. Read the rest

Sony's new robot dog doubles down on DRM

It's been 15 years since Sony used the DMCA to shut down the community that had sprung up to extend the functionality of its Aibo robot dogs, threatening people with lawsuits and jailtime for modifying their dogs' operating systems. Read the rest

RIP Teaforia, the $1000 IoT tea-infuser

In 2016, Teaforia raised $12,000,000 in venture capital to manufacture a $1,000 tea infuser that combined proprietary, DRM-encumbered tea pods with a "patent-pending microinfusion technology" and a timer to make cups of tea. Read the rest

Why electrical engineers should support the right to repair

Writing in IEEE Spectrum, iFixit's superhero founder Kyle Wiens and Repair.org exective director Gay Gordon-Byrne bring the case for the right to repair (previously) to the engineering community, describing the economic, technical, and environmental benefits of permitting a domestic industry of local, expert technologists to help their neighbors get more out of their gadgets. Read the rest

Portugal passes the world's first reasonable DRM law

Last June, Portugal enacted Law No. 36/2017 which bans putting DRM on public domain media or government works, and allows the public to break DRM that interferes with their rights in copyright, including private copying, accessibility adaptation, archiving, reporting and commentary and more. Read the rest

The video game industry's best-of-class DRM is routinely cracked in less than 24 hours

Denuvo is billed as the video game industry's "best in class" DRM, charging games publishers a premium to prevent people from playing their games without paying for them. In years gone by, Denuvo DRM would remain intact for as long as a month before cracks were widely disseminated. Read the rest

A curiously incomplete history of the early years of DRM

Ernie Smith's Motherboard article on the early years of DRM gets into some fascinating stories about things like IBM's Cryptolope and Xerox PARC's Contentguard (which became a patent troll), Intertrust's belief that it is "developing the basis for a civil society in cyberspace" and the DeCSS fight. Read the rest

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