Supporters of free software picketed the iPad launch last month, designating the Yerba Buena Center For Arts as an "Apple Restriction Zone." The Free Software Foundation was protesting Apple's ongoing efforts to control what can run on its devices through restrictive digital rights management (DRM) and a closed operating system. The online petition set up at the event has swelled to over eight thousand signatures, and the FSF sent off the first five thousand as a postcard to Steve Jobs.

The Defective by Design campaign, organized by the FSF, was successful in pressuring Apple to remove all DRM restrictions from music on iTunes. John Sullivan from the FSF said at the iPad launch that his group wanted "to send the same message about the other restrictions Apple is imposing on software, e-books, and movies." Sullivan cast aspersions on Apple's claims that the company supports creative expression. "If Jobs and Apple are actually committed to creativity, freedom, and individuality," he said, "they should prove it by eliminating the restrictions that make creativity and freedom illegal," he said. According to FSF director Peter Brown, Apple's shift from the open model of current computers to the closed model of the iPhone OS creates a dangerous precedent for the future of computing. "Your computer should be yours to control," he said. "By imposing such restrictions on users, Steve Jobs is building a legacy that endangers our freedom for his profits."

The FSF pointed out two main categories in which the iPhone/iPod/iPad model was overly restrictive:

  • All media in the iTunes store (with the one exception of music) is wrapped in Apple’s DRM. That means films, TV shows, movies and audiobooks (NB: books are in an open format ePub) are locked to Apple’s platform, taking away your right to share.
  • All applications must be signed by Apple if they are to run, an unprecedented level of control for a general purpose computer. On top of this, Apple can push updates to the device over its wireless connection, letting them add or remove capabilities at any time.

The petition, which describes the iPad as "a computer that will never belong to its owner," is up to 8,800 signatures as of this writing. The text is available at the DefectivebyDesign website.

image via Free Software Foundation