DRM opponents hit the streets, backed in Europe

On June 10, opponents of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software held protests at Apple stores in eight cities throughout the US. Major locations in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco were all hit by protests organized by the Free Software Foundation. Protesters wore bright yellow hazmat suits and held signs criticizing DRM and calling for user rights to make private copies of their digital media. In a statement following the protests, Free Software Foundation Executive Director Peter Brown said, "Our computers and electronic devices are a major channel for our individual expressions of freedom. DRM restricts what we can do with our computers and devices, and therefore DRM restricts our freedom."

One protester in San Francisco pointed out that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has appeared to share this viewpoint in the past; the protester's sign showed a quote from a 2002 interview with Jobs, who said, "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own." Music purchased on Apple's iTunes Music Store is known for being incompatible with non-iPod MP3 players, such as those from Creative and Sandisk.

Of course, protesters from the Free Software Foundation aren't the only ones calling for more interoperability from Apple's audio products. According to BusinessWeek, Norway has found the restrictive tie-in between iTunes downloads and the iPod illegal under Norwegian law. Chunks of Apple's End User License Agreement are also considered illegal, and the country has called for Apple to make necessary changes by June 21 or face fines. BusinessWeek says Apple may face similar demands in Sweden and Denmark, as well. These events follow discussions surrounding France's "iPod law", which also calls for more interoperability between DRM music formats and portable digital media players.

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