FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00045

Submission Number:
539814-00045
Commenter:
Christopher Meacham
State:
AL
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle

I would like to see a requirement that all software, including audio and video media, have a label on the box which clearly states how intrusive its copy protection software (herein referred to as DRM) is, and how to remove it completely. This requirement would also limit the number of steps to remove the DRM and require that the removal of such DRM be concurrent with the removal of the software. This requirement would also require that the DRM not inhibit the use of the PC for other purposes not related to the software, and that when inhibiting uses related to the software, such inhibition be limited to only times concurrent with usage of the software. And, finally, it would require that no hardware be damaged due to the use of the DRM.

I have been playing PC games since before the original CD was a requirement, thus I have been playing since the first software implementation of DRM. Here are a limited selection of issues that I have had with DRM:

1) A few years ago, my CD writer on my PC stopped writing. I could not seem to fix it. I took it in for repair since it was still under warranty and the technician returned it to me saying that no matter what they did, Roxio (the CD writing software that was originally installed) would not write. Any other software would, but Roxio would not. I later found out that disabling the CD-RW's writing capability when Roxio is running was part of the DRM called StarForce. It was then that I learned that, indeed, DRM in games can destroy the usability of ones PC. I attempted from then on to avoid any games with hidden DRM, but I was mostly unsuccessful because there is no way, currently, to know for sure whether a game includes DRM. Often, the existence of such is intentionally hidden from the user.

2) I own the game "Star Wars: Battlefront 2." This game included SecuRom (which I did not know until the first update was released) and, when updated to the latest, bug-fixed version, it disabled the game on any PC which included a dual core processor and an nVidia GeForce 7800 PCIx Video Card. The only feedback that the game gave to the user was that the game did not have the CD in the drive, even though it did. If I had not been keeping up with gaming news, I would not have known that my only recourse was to contact the distributor of SecuRom. Many never knew this and tried to return their games as defective, though they were not accepted for return, since they had been opened, and ended up in the trash more often than not.

3) I was considering the purchase of a game titled "Mass Effect" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_Effect#Digital_rights_management) on the PC. I was truly looking forward to this game since I do not intend to purchase the original platform on which it released. Luckily, I found out before its release on the PC that this game had SecuRom included and that it limited installation. If I had not found out beforehand I would not have known because the box does not display anything explaining that fact. I have since chosen not to purchase the game, however, had I been informed through a label on the box, I would have been more likely to purchase it.