Are you giving your loved ones holiday gifts they can use freely, or gifts which put someone else in control?

Electronics are popular gifts for the holidays, but people often overlook the restrictions that manufacturers slip under the wrapping paper. Companies like Microsoft and Apple can and will use Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to prevent your loved ones from sharing apps on the laptop you got them or remixing the songs on their expensive new iPad. If the recipient of your gift is as unlucky as one woman last year, Amazon might even block all the books on their Kindle and refuse to explain why. Companies want us to accept this kind of intrusive control, but when you think about, it's unethical (and annoying!).

Give freely

The good news is, for every device that uses DRM or has a remote "kill switch" like the Kindle, ethical companies have made a better one that doesn't, one that your loved ones will be free to enjoy however they wish. Here's a list of these smarter gifts, compared with their more well-known, but more restrictive alternatives. While you're reading, please remember that donating to a charity in your friend or family member's name is at least as meaningful as buying them an electronic device. Some of our favorite charities are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy, Software Freedom Law Center, GNOME Foundation and Free Software Foundation.

The Free Software Foundation's Holiday Giving Guide

The gifts in the left column respect your freedom much more than those in the right column.

Please share the Giving Guide with your friends and family members, especially those that might give you presents! (We're using the hashtag #givefreely.)

To make a really big splash, get some friends together, print the PDF version of the Giving Guide and hand it out near a local store that sells DRM-encumbered products. Be sure to take photos! Send us photos and any questions at