[Plura-list] Facebook loses users, makes more money; DRM horror-stories needed

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Oct 30 11:24:31 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Facebook loses users, makes more money: It's good to be king.

* DRM horror-stories needed: Your chance to change the law.

* This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🕵🏼‍♀️ Facebook loses users, makes more money

In 2017, 15m 13-34-year-old US Facebook users left the service. These
are Facebook's most valuable users, worldwide, and this was the
largest-ever exodus from Facebook.

But all of those users simply shifted over the Instagram


The theory of market economies is that the best companies with the best
products and services attract the most customers. But when competition
regulators allow large companies to gobble up little competitors to
prevent them from growing into threats, markets become moneyball.

The Instagram acquisition - like other FB acquisitions, eg Whatsapp and
Oculus - were explictly predatory, designed to reduce competition in the
market and preserve profits by depriving customers of choice.


That strategy works great (for FB and its shareholders). This year,
Facebook has haemorrhaged US/Canada users - its most valuable users -
and still seen surging earnings.


The company booked 22% year-on-year growth in the last quarter.
Tellingly, FB now advises shareholders that the important indicator of
the company's health isn't Facebook users, it's the "family of apps"
number, combining FB, Instagram and Whatsapp.

In other words: heads Zuck wins, tails we lose.


🕵🏼‍♀️ DRM horror-stories needed

In 1998, Bill Clinton signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act into
law, including Section 1201, while felonizes the distribution of tools
to bypass "access controls" (AKA DRM).

Practically speaking, that means if your printer cartridge has a digital
lock that stops you from refilling it, then anyone who makes a tool to
unfuck your printer risks a 5-year prison sentence and a $500k fine.

DMCA 1201 is an unmitigated disaster. Companies use this law to force
you to sideline your own interests and instead conduct yourself to the
sole benefit of their shareholders.

All they need to do is design the product so that using it your way
means breaking DRM and your way becomes a literal felony: from repair to
security audits, from consumables to parts, from apps to features.

DRM has proliferated as a means of enforcing shareholder preferences in
your own home.

When DMCA1201 passed, Congress charged the US Copyright Office with
holding hearings every three years to uncover potential problems with
this very problematic law.

At these "triennials," people whose legitimate activities have been
undermined by DRM can go before a committee of Copyright Office lawyers
and beg for the right to use their stuff their way.

To its credit, the Copyright Office has granted many exemptions over the
years despite objections from big entertainment and tech companies. But
these exemptions are only for "uses" and not "tools."

When the Copyright Office grants archivists the rights to bypass DRM to
preserve media, it can't authorize anyone to give those archivists a
tool to accomplish this use.

Or an exemption for visually impaired people to bypass DRM on ebooks so
they can be used with screenreaders, Braille printers or text-to-speech:
this permits each blind person to find and exploit defects in ebook DRM,
but not to help one another, or get help from others.

There are instances in which a use exemption does some good: for
example, if you want to make interoperable diagnostic tools for cars, a
use exemption lets you bypass the engine's DRM to learn what the error
codes mean, and then build a tool that interprets them for others.

And many archivists are comfortable with sourcing underground tools to
bypass DRM once they know they can legally use those tools.

But for the most part, the best thing we can say about use exemptions is
they force the US government to document the defects in DMCA 1201.

The DMCA has a 22 year track record, and it's uniformly terrible, and
getting worse - DMCA 1201 is how Medtronic is preventing independent
hospital technicians from repairing their ventilators, RIGHT NOW, during
a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Documenting the law's defects is more urgent than ever, especially as
competition regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating
the ways that DRM creates and reinforces monopolies.

And you can help!

In 2021, the Copyright Office will once again consider petitions for
exemptions to DMCA 1201, and @EFF is looking for your stories to help us
craft our slate of proposed new exemptions.


If you have a story about how:

* someone in the United States;

* attempted or planned to repair, modify, or diagnose a product with a
software component; and

* encountered DRM  that prevented completing the modification, repair,
or diagnosis

—we want to hear from you!

"Please email us at RightToMod-2021 at eff.org with the information listed
below, and we’ll curate the stories we receive so we can present the
most relevant ones alongside our arguments to the Copyright Office."


(make sure you click through to see the questions before you email!)


🕵🏼‍♀️ This day in history

#15yrsago Sony DRM uses black-hat rootkits

#15yrsago Public Enemy’s Internet strategy

#5yrsago Petition: Rename Stephen Harper to “Calgary International

#1yrago Leaked document reveals that Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto plans for
private taxation, private roads, charter schools, corporate cops and
judges, and punishment for people who choose privacy

#1yrago After suing NSO Group for hacking Whatsapp, Facebook kicks NSO
employees off its services


🕵🏼‍♀️ Colophon

Today's top sources: Slashdot (https://slashdot.org/)

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 527 words (78855

Currently reading: Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 20)

Upcoming appearances:

* How to Fix the Internet/Reboot 2020, Nov 9,

* Cyberterrorists, Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes, and
Were-Pomeranians/Texas Book Festival, Nov 12,

* Let's Talk About Influence/Designthinkers, Nov 16,

* Shaping the Digital Future Summit/Kaspersky, Nov 17, details TBD

* Misinformation and Disinformation in Science Fiction and Fantasy/LITA,
Nov 17, details TBD

* Keynote, Data Natives, Nov 18, https://datanatives.io/tickets/

* Keynote, Cologne Futures, Nov 20, details TBD

* Keynote, Cybersummit 2020, Nov 26 https://www.cybera.ca/cyber-summit-2020/

* Beaverbrook Lecture: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, Nov 30,

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22-25,

Recent appearances:

* Author Stories Podcast

* The Gould Standard:

* Attack Surface: A Reckoning

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies
* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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