FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00064

Submission Number:
Benjamin Granzeau
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle

To whom it may concern, My name is Benjamin "Gonzo" Granzeau. I am a systems engineer by trade, but a computer gamer by hobby. I have been involved in the gaming community since my early years. I am writing concerning "DRM Town Hall – Comment, Project No. P094502". I wish to voice my dissatisfaction with DRM protected products. In particular, some computer games have particularly onerous EULA's and DRM embedded within them. These companies embed DRM into their product to protect their development from computer piracy, which can be understandable. However, who are you protecting? The consumer is unable to return these products to the store once they are opened, due to fear of computer piracy. Also, while Internet access is almost universal amongst gamers, it might not always be immediately available due to technical limitations. Or what about companies that go under, leaving their customers stranded with useless data that is inaccessible due to DRM. So what types of piracy are being prevented through the use of DRM? Most popular computer games are 'cracked', or had their copy protected broken, within hours of their release. So DRM does not stop online versions from spreading across the network, free for all who download them. You're not stopping those copies from being spread on the street corner. You are not stopping the pirates in foreign countries. You are not stopping the real criminals here. DRM does stop the passive pirate, the person who makes a copy for a friend. However, these people often find the 'cracks' out on the internet, while maybe infecting themselves in viruses or botnets in the process, maybe leading to a crash on the computer. However, the passive pirate originally purchased the product. And now their friend might be infected with spyware or key loggers, all trying to show that friend a game that they are interested in. Does this lead to greater sales of the game? This is unlikely because who wants to use a product that caused a computer to crash. What sort of loss of revenue does a reputable and independent source say this leads to? How many users? 10%? 1%? 0.5%? DRM does stop consumers. This can be due to bugs in the code. This can be due to the DRM provider's server being down. This can be due to another piece of software on the machine being on the DRM's black list. This can even be due to buying the wrong style of CD drive. I know this because I have run into these exact problems in games I have spent money on, most recently a product called Spore by EA Games. I had a laptop freeze in the middle of a presentation because of video DRM. Now, this doesn't lead to a loss of revenue, because I cannot return this game or get someone to pay for my broken presentation, though I might tell a friend how bad the DRM is. But how many users does this affect? 0.5%? 1%? 10%? 50%? What about 100% in some cases? When companies go under, who should care about the customers affected? What if they have games that cease to function, if their music is unplayable, if they have no recourse in losing their ability to use a product? The people who should be caring are the companies involved, but that is obviously not the case. And the last thing I want to do when I get home and just want to play a game is fight my computer because my software thinks I'm a pirate. It is my opinion that DRM should be limited and restricted, if not discontinued. It is invasive of user's privacy, affects a user's computer operations, and can even lead to major problems for users, all for the cause of the misconception that DRM prevent privacy losses. In fact, it can lead to bad reviews, bad user experiences, and even loss of the product's use entirely. Please protect the consumer from the scourge of DRM. Protect the little guy. Thank you, and good luck with your task. Sincerely, Benjamin "Gonzo" Granzeau