He's bent the ear of world leaders on social causes. He's a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He's a rock star.
But could the lead singer of U2 also become a front man for a grass-roots campaign seeking to change how the music industry does business? The Free Software Foundation hopes so.
The Boston-based advocacy group launched an online petition Thursday asking Bono to take a stand with them against copy-protection technologies that they say unnecessarily restrict consumers' rights to freely use the music and art they've purchased.
Digital rights management technology is commonly used by companies such as Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) or Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to support the companies' own business strategies and satisfy the music industry's concerns about unfettered distribution of songs over the Internet.
For instance, Apple's DRM technology limits users to copy songs they've downloaded from its iTunes Music Store to up to five different computers at a time.
The Free Software Foundation, which is also behind the license that's used by the Linux operating system and other open source software, wants to eliminate DRM restrictions through its so-called Defective By Design campaign.
It contends that more liberal access and usage models will actually help increase sales by widening the base of art lovers.
The campaign has already held demonstrations outside Apple retail stores and the offices of the Recording Industry Association of America. Now it is circulating the online petition targeting Bono, whose rock band also has its own branded Apple iPod music player.
A representative for Bono did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.