Fans Picket RIAA and Virgin Records on DRM

By Jon Newton 10/28/05

Just about everyone who's online knows DRM is short for Digital Restrictions Management, technology dreamed up by the 20th and 21st century versions of snake-oil salesmen. It's sold to companies who truly believe it can work (it can't) and to others who, although they know damn well if it can be seen or heard, it can be copied, nonetheless hope to scam 'consumers' into believing the opposite.

The word hasn't yet thoroughly filtered through to non-surfers. But that's changing, thanks to efforts of groups such as Free Culture which on Tuesday staged a blindingly effective demo outside the Virgin Megastore on East 14th Street and Broadway in New York City.

Slyck's Tom Mennecke, himself a denizen of New York, headed over to the Big Apple to check it out.

You can see his report on Slyck, but we asked him for his personal impressions.

“If you’ve never been to NYC, just about every type of person passes by,” said Mennecke. “The Virgin store is very close to NYU, and being directly across from Union Square Park it was a perfect location. These two combinations are perfect for political activism.”

He said the scene was something else.

“There was a good sized crowd demonstrating and handing out fliers. What I though was particularly interesting was the interaction between the customers and the demonstrators. It wasn’t really a chanting demonstration, more of a educational one. They’d hand out fliers, and say ‘your CD may not work when you get home.'

“That caught the attention of many individuals. Some didn’t quite understand, and many were very surprised to learn they couldn’t play it on their computer or burn a backup copy.”

Free Culture organizer Fred Beneneson knew what he was doing and, “seemed like an intelligent and articulate guy" but naturally, “there were the nut cases who began talking about the music industry implanting microchips, but that happens on just about any street corner in New York ;)”

Mennecke also had a word with the store manager so, Did he know what DRM was? - we asked

“He knew,” said Mennecke, “but he didn’t really know about the protest, only because that particular street corner always has some kind of political activity going on. Union Square is very well known for that."

And what was the Virgin manager's general condition?

“I only chatted with him for a minute, but when I was done, the whole store was covered with these green fliers. It was actually quite amusing. He was a bit overwhelmed.”

Go here for more pix of the demo.

Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


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