International Day Against DRM 2019 Focused on Education

Held on October 12 this year, the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) emphasized the implementation of digital rights management (DRM) on educational material. This year’s celebration protests Pearson’s use of DRM on textbooks, says Slashdot.

Participants of the IDAD 2019 conducted protests outside the Pearson Education office in Boston. The organizers also encouraged people to coordinate their own mobilizations to protest against the use of DRM in educational content.

International Day Against DRM 2019

The demonstrations were held as the measure hinders student learning as it imposes a variety of restrictions, said the report. This includes the use of “authentication” which requires continuous connection to the internet. Such constraints also include limitations on the number of pages a student can access at one time.

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The campaign also emphasized that Pearson and other publishers “secretly [collect] telemetric data on [students’] reading habits.” This condition is aggravated by the fact that some schools require students to use Pearson, which only allows students to rent digital books.

Moreover, the company has faced criticisms over the years for regular minor revisions on textbooks. This made past editions unusable as most classrooms require updated editions. Recently, the publisher has abandoned this strategy and focused on its digital products and services, including online textbooks and other similar learning materials.

‘Defective by Design’

The IDAD is part of the Free Software Foundation’s Defective by Design (DbD) campaign that seeks to “{expose} DRM-encumbered devices and media” as goods that are “defective by design.” The group protests the use of DRM as they perceive it as a “threat to innovation in media, the privacy of readers, and freedom for computer users.”

With such rigid restrictions, the campaign sees Pearson and other publishers as imposing control on the conditions under which students learn. According to DbD, such companies should not be allowed to make decisions regarding such important matters.

In the past, some services such as Netflix have been slammed for placing geographical DRM restrictions. In 2016, the streaming company implemented a ban on Canadian users that utilize unblocking services to access international content. This led former subscribers to go the pirate route and access these contents illegally and without a cost.

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Other problems arose when downloaded content available in some places cannot be accessed when users enter a location in which the content is not available. According to some users, this compels them to resort to piracy.

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