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Anti-DRM Demonstration Takes Place in New York City

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Anti-DRM Demonstration Takes Place in New York City

Postby SlyckTom » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:02 pm

If you’ve never been to New York City, it’s not easy to describe the chaotic, fast paced and eccentric sensation that encompasses just about any random street corner. True enough, some intersections are quieter than others. But this wasn’t just any street corner. This was Union Square South, world renowned as being an epicenter for political activism.

This was the stage for the first American based anti-DRM (Digital Rights Management) and pro file-sharing demonstration. The demonstration was coordinated by the New York University organization named <a href=http://www.freeculturenyu.org target=_blank>FreeCulture@NYU</a>. FreeCulture@NYU is a local chapter of the nationally based FreeCulture organization. FreeCulture aims to deconstruct the established corporate entertainment monopoly and return power back to the individual.

On the local scene tonight, FreeCulture’s objective was to educate consumers about DRM. DRM is widely recognized as any method that deters the simplistic coping of a digital format. For example, as P2P networks continue to proliferate, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) on behalf of its member companies is forcing P2P developers such as MetaMachine (eDonkey) and LimeWire to block unlicensed files. In addition, CDs are increasingly accompanied by various DRM schemes designed to deter its owner from making unrestricted copies. This could impact one’s ability to play a CD on a computer, make fair use backup copies, and inhibit portability.

Tonight’s demonstration took place in front of the monstrous Virgin MegaStore. Although the demonstration began quietly enough, it slowly began to build momentum. Around 8 pm, approximately an hour after it began, a wide variety of individuals showed their support. Musicians, university students, even a programmer from LimeWire were handing out flyers and informing Virgin MegaStore customers what potential defects may accompany their recently purchased CD.

<center>
<img src=http://www.slyck.com/misc/riaa_music_away.jpg><span class=br1><br></span>
<span class=grayB9>"The RIAA took my music away" - FreeCulture@NYU gathers outside Virgin Megastore.</span>
</center>

Coordinating the demonstration was Fred Benenson. Founder of FreeCulture@NYU and president before graduating, Fred Benenson has worked actively in this field. Tonight, FreeCulture expanded to bring the fight to the record company’s front door.

“Tonight is about educating the consumer and level the playing field,” Fred stated. “There’s a lot of deception going on in the record companies. When a consumer purchases a CD, they expect it to function in a certain manner. When it doesn’t, there’s no explanation – we’re trying to fill that gap.”

Fred explained that Virgin MegaStore was targeted as the demonstration point, as opposed to TowerRecords (even larger than Virgin) because of the young, hip, and liberal image it tries to project. Plus its direct proximity to Union Square Park didn’t hurt. Associating FreeCulture with the political history of this park perhaps helped garner the interest of the hordes of individuals passing by. Indeed, many of those who were either about to purchase or did purchase a CD were surprised by this previously unknown term “DRM.”

“A lot of people were shocked and interested about it. Many people who came out of the store and were informed their CD may not work when they get home were concerned and surprised.”

<center>
<img src=http://www.slyck.com/misc/drm_bad.jpg><span class=br1><br></span>
<span class=grayB9>FreeCulture@NYU activists educating consumers and handing out fliers.</span>
</center>

During the course of the demonstration, FreeCulture activists were speaking with Virgin MegaStore customers about CDs with DRM. By-passers also were taking interest, as many were getting involved in discussions about the extent and scope of DRM.
Interestingly, there was little or no reaction from the Virgin MegaStore employees.

At one point during the demonstration, FreeCulture@NYU activists entered Virgin MegaStore and began plastering bright green anti-DRM flyers throughout the CD displays.

“There really wasn’t any reaction from the employees,” observed Fred.

The employees perhaps didn’t react, but when Slyck.com asked the manager of Virgin MegaStore to comment on the distribution, he appeared a bit overwhelmed when his entire store was covered with <a href=http://flickr.com/photos/fcb/56771180/in/set-1229792 target=_blank>little green fliers</a>.

While consumers are entitled to information, shouldn’t content owners have the right to dictate how their product is protected? Is FreeCulture@NYU just a group of people just looking for free music?

“As an organization, we’re more for Creative Commons. With this, it’s more of a license you are aware of. It doesn’t restrict what you can do with the content; so much as notify you what you can do. Then the decision is yours. I think our organization as a whole objects to the idea that we are just consumers, and that we have these little pens put around us. This idea is in contrast to DRM, and there’s no way to reconcile that.”

This lack of reconciliation between rights owners and the increasingly aware public appears to have already manifested. Whether through P2P networking or activism such as the demonstration held by FreeCulture@NYU, there is growing dissent with the method in which the music industry conducts business. There is some glimmer of change through “legitimate” services, however the overwhelming sentiment last night contend the bottom line continues to be about money and not the music.
Last edited by SlyckTom on Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Nick » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:24 pm

Excellent article, ST. Thanks for being there and reporting for us all.

Let's hope we can get the same momentum moving in London and in all the major cities.
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Postby IceCube » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:50 pm

Very nice Tom! :D

Did you get a flyer? If so, could you scan it ad put it up? I'd be interested in seeing what the flyers said. :)
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Postby SlyckTom » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:51 pm

Here, they have a copy of it on their wiki...

http://wiki.freeculturenyu.org/wiki/ind ... RM_Protest
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Postby Nick » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:57 pm

Shame they didn't get you to edit it before publishing! Who are "Sony BMI"? I think they meant "Sony BMG"!
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Postby Widdle » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:07 pm

Interesting article.

As long as they aren't advocating that a rights holder has no right to control their content, I'm behind them.

I believe the eventual resolution will be when, as is already occuring, musicians no longer feel the need to work through the record companies.

The recording industry will eventually shrink to 1/10th is current size as their trump cards over less capital intensive forms of music continue to dissapear. They've already lost recording and editing. Everyone can see that they surely don't have a monopoly on talent. The last bastion is distribution, that's what they are worried about.

This will all work itself out over time.

If the artists are OK with the recording companies treatment of the rights to their material then are the companies doing anything wrong? I'll leave it as a given that it may be unethical, but not illegal. Perhaps artists are the ones that need to change this. There are a few bands out there that have the money and audience size to change the way the industry functions.

I would challenge bands like Coldplay who have a belief that this is wrong to help change it.

Dump your contract and produce and distribute your own music. You surely have the finances and the fan-base. The media would do your advertising for you!

Just some random thoughts.
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Postby eAi » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:09 pm

Good for them, we need more demonstrations against the status quo - people are much too willing to accept what the government and big buisness (one might argue they're one and the same) tell them is 'right'.
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Postby SlyckTom » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:09 pm

Shame they didn't get you to edit it before publishing! Who are "Sony BMI"? I think they meant "Sony BMG"!


They did correct that. The flier I have and which they were giving out does say "Sony BMG."
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Postby curzlgt » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:32 pm

Great article Tom.

@ Widdle, I agree, eventually the majority of artists will wake up.

Any thoughts on how, or if, DRM can be implamented without conflicting with fair use? I'm hard pressed to think of any....
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Postby HouseCrowd » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:35 pm

Nice reporting!!!! :D

Good one Tom!



I think more such demonstrations are needed, but I'm not sure that protesting outside a Virgin Megastore will really have any impact. A few thousand people outside the RIAA's headquarters would be better! :twisted:
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Postby Widdle » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:38 pm

I think the only way to implement DRM without conflicting with fair-use would be to change the nature of the transaction of buying a CD. Instead of calling it a purchase of the music it would need to be clearly identified that this a "lease" on the content. NOT the rights to ownership.

Although this would be unpalatable to consumers, it would at least make DRM justifiable.

Stop selling music, just rent it.
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Postby IceCube » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:38 pm

SlyckTom wrote:
Shame they didn't get you to edit it before publishing! Who are "Sony BMI"? I think they meant "Sony BMG"!


They did correct that. The flier I have and which they were giving out does say "Sony BMG."


you know what would be cool? A picture of you holding that flier :D

Just a thought though.
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Postby SlyckTom » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:46 pm

I think more such demonstrations are needed, but I'm not sure that protesting outside a Virgin Megastore will really have any impact. A few thousand people outside the RIAA's headquarters would be better!


I dont know how many people hang outside the RIAA headquarters. Union Square is filled to the brim with people, so there's a lot of visibility.
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Postby IceCube » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:48 pm

Sounds like an excellent strategy. Hold the demonstration where average consumers who wouldn't likely know these things can see it :D
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Postby curzlgt » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:51 pm

Widdle wrote:I think the only way to implement DRM without conflicting with fair-use would be to change the nature of the transaction of buying a CD. Instead of calling it a purchase of the music it would need to be clearly identified that this a "lease" on the content. NOT the rights to ownership.

Although this would be unpalatable to consumers, it would at least make DRM justifiable.

Stop selling music, just rent it.


Well that just won't do.... I can see DRM awarness driving even greater numbers to the filesharing ranks as time and DRM march on. It may even bring more people to p2p than the lawsuits have :D
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Postby Widdle » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:59 pm

curzlgt wrote:
Widdle wrote:I think the only way to implement DRM without conflicting with fair-use would be to change the nature of the transaction of buying a CD. Instead of calling it a purchase of the music it would need to be clearly identified that this a "lease" on the content. NOT the rights to ownership.

Although this would be unpalatable to consumers, it would at least make DRM justifiable.

Stop selling music, just rent it.


Well that just won't do.... I can see DRM awarness driving even greater numbers to the filesharing ranks as time and DRM march on. It may even bring more people to p2p than the lawsuits have :D


Agreed.

Admitting to consumers that they are only leasing music and that they do not own it would not make the consumers happy.

Then we see that perhaps DRM isn't the best option.
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Postby HouseCrowd » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:07 pm

SlyckTom wrote:
I think more such demonstrations are needed, but I'm not sure that protesting outside a Virgin Megastore will really have any impact. A few thousand people outside the RIAA's headquarters would be better!


I dont know how many people hang outside the RIAA headquarters. Union Square is filled to the brim with people, so there's a lot of visibility.



Yeah, I guess it makes sense in that case, if the point of the protest is to make more people aware of DRM and what it is. Still, I would guess that the protest at the chosen location has had little or no impact on those who are responsible for DRM and its implementation.
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Postby IceCube » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:36 pm

I somehow doubt that was the point of the protest to begin with. I mean, the point of the protest is to educate consumers. When word spreads that the industry is selling broken CD's, it'll end up being the consumers that kill the industry when they refuse to be leased music anyway. Let the recording industry call the average consumer thieves, it'll make no difference when the consumers can see right through their lies.
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Postby Cybergenetic » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:37 pm

DRM incorperated in P2P programs will do nothing. they can't DRM the network, clearly. However, they can DRM the software, yet that means cracking it and getting rid of the juicey DRM code that exists in it anyway. The people who are Moaning over it, clearly aren't 'hardcore fileshares'. Indeed, I gather they're Grokster, iMesh, Morpheus users. It's just not worth moaning over some Code that's implimented in a P2P application.
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Postby LANjackal » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:49 pm

Fantastic coverage, Slyck. I like the part about the oblivious Virgin staff. Hilarious.

Hopefully we'll see more of these around the country and the world.
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Postby donraja » Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:37 pm

Thats fantastic news!!!! Perhaps us londoners should co-ordinate our efforts with FreeCulture over here and hold a simultaneous Event!! Piccadilly Circus would be a perfect place with Tower Records, Virgin, and HMV all a stone throw within each other!

:D :twisted:
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Postby zappauk2003 » Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:35 pm

Widdle wrote:Interesting article.

As long as they aren't advocating that a rights holder has no right to control their content, I'm behind them.

I believe the eventual resolution will be when, as is already occuring, musicians no longer feel the need to work through the record companies.

The recording industry will eventually shrink to 1/10th is current size as their trump cards over less capital intensive forms of music continue to dissapear. They've already lost recording and editing. Everyone can see that they surely don't have a monopoly on talent. The last bastion is distribution, that's what they are worried about.

This will all work itself out over time.

If the artists are OK with the recording companies treatment of the rights to their material then are the companies doing anything wrong? I'll leave it as a given that it may be unethical, but not illegal. Perhaps artists are the ones that need to change this. There are a few bands out there that have the money and audience size to change the way the industry functions.

I would challenge bands like Coldplay who have a belief that this is wrong to help change it.

Dump your contract and produce and distribute your own music. You surely have the finances and the fan-base. The media would do your advertising for you!

Just some random thoughts.


Couldn't agree more mate, I have argued constantly 'till I was blue in the face that that is how the future of the music industry will pan out. Artists will control their own music and distribution and the record lables will be seen as nothing more then dinosaurs. Bowie and Zappa showed the way years before file sharing was around.
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Postby maseratiprogram » Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:35 pm

nice one tom ><! wish we had one in vegas "sigh".... <3.
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Postby Philweed » Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:08 pm

Well if we could mobilize a fraction of the fileshares around the world and have protests against it, so we get loads of media attention. Question, How many filesharers exist. I guess in the 10s of millions, well if we could get half a million of them together around the world. That would be great. A small step in the wright direction :D.

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Postby IceCube » Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:45 pm

Another picture of the demonstration

Anyone want to take a guess who the dude with the green backpack is? :D

Here's a hint, he's everyones hero! ;)
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