We at Creative Commons (CC) have long disagreed with the use of digital rights management (DRM) and technological protection measures (TPMs) in the open environment. We believe that DRM and TPMs should not be used to control, limit, prevent or otherwise affect activities and uses allowed under CC licenses’ terms. Plainly, DRM and TPMs are antithetical to the “open” ethos and at odds with the values of sharing that we support.
What is DRM? DRM consists of access control technologies or restrictive licensing agreements that attempt to restrict the use, modification, and distribution of legally-acquired works. Examples include encryption technology used on DVDs, keys (or passwords) with video games or copying restrictions on ebooks.
DRM goes against the spirit of open sharing
Most creators who choose CC licenses probably don’t want DRM — they want wide distribution, use, and reuse of their content. Generally, we encourage creators to share their content in “downloadable” and “editable” formats (i.e. DRM-free — without any technical restriction to download, copy, or modify) to make it easier for others to benefit from and use the content, including for educational and socially beneficial purposes. We likewise discourage sharing CC-licensed content on platforms, sites or channels that add DRM to the shared content. That way, the spirit of open licensing is upheld and the legitimate expectations of the public regarding the freedoms associated with using openly-licensed content aren’t compromised.
DRM does a disservice to the public: it blocks legitimate access to openly licensed content, thereby posing a threat to the universal, fundamental rights of access to knowledge, science, culture and education.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: standing up against DRM is incredibly important for many communities in the open movement, particularly open education. Of particular importance is the ability for educators and learners to “retain” content and “to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage).”
DRM poses a dire risk to the principles at the foundation of the open movement. DRM often constitutes an unnecessary obstacle preventing access to and use of content for legitimate purposes. When used in connection with openly-licensed content, DRM does a disservice to the public: it blocks legitimate access to the content, thereby posing a threat to the universal, fundamental rights of access to knowledge, science, culture and education. We at CC will continue to advocate against it.