FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00596

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

I've owned numerous PC game titles from EA and Ubisoft that use DRM such as SecuROM or StarForce. Games I own are bought from brick-and-mortar retail outlets, or from online distributors such as Steam, Direct2Drive, or EA Link. On several occasions I've had to remove non-game applications, such as CD/DVD burning tools, DVD Region modification tools (since I am German and live in the US), virtual CD/DVD drives or simple CD/DVD Copying utilities, because I was having problems with games not starting after installation. I am unaware of any law that allows another program to dictate what I can and cannot have on my computer. The computer is my personal property, as are the applications that I install on them. I am an IT Director for a firm and understand there may be incompatibilities between applications and that issues can occur, but to blatantly have a GAME PUBLISHER ask a user to uninstall applications because they're been "blacklisted" by their chosen DRM, is totally absurd. The applications that I use are lawfully distributed and I apply them lawfully. If I have a game that does not function after an installation, generally the error codes that I research on the web lead me to articles on the DRM developers web sites explaining that I must remove X, Y, or Z type application because it has been blacklisted. Usually to resolve these issues, this requires an uninstallation of the game and said "offensive" program, and then a reinstallation of the game for it function as intended. BUT, there have been occasions, such as with Silent Hunter III, a game published by Ubisoft, where I have had to reformat my computer and re-install the operating system in order to get the game to function properly. There have been conflicts between games that may use similar brand but different versions of DRM. Install game A, it works fine, then install game B, which works fine, but game A ceases to function and throws up an error which I can search online and then point to DRM. As I stated I am an IT Professional. I may reformat my operating system volumes 2 - 4 times a year for regular housekeeping purposes. DRM that have limited installation quotas without the ability to get back the installations via an uninstallation or de-registering of a game, restrict me as a user to limited number of uses of the game. Therefore I do not own the game, just a limited number of uses of the game. Don't I have rights as a consumer? The game developer now dictates how many times I can remove and add MY game to MY computer? To contrast what a lawful consumer has to go through, I will explain how a pirated game that has DRM embedded functions. It's date X. I want game A which comes out on Z date. Game A also has DRM the restricts the number of installations. So, even though it is before date Z, I can go to a site, use a download client and search for game A. I find game A, and download it. I install game A, I run a combination of a cracking utility, key generator, or simply a modified executable that comes with the pirated version of game A, and there are no activation requests, no limited installations, no hidden rootkit-like installations, or requests for uninstallation of my other applications. What is the benefit as a lawful purchaser of games? I support the publishers and developers of games by paying them to inconvenience me? What is my incentive to BUY their games? Publishers complain about losing sales, maybe inconveniencing customers, and treating them like pirates is losing them the sale? I don't mind digital or hard copy distribution of games where an internet connection has to be maintained to register the game as long as it is stated on the box, as long as there is an offline component in case the Internet isn't working at that moment. Heck, phone in registrations would be ok by me too. Use a hardware key (small usb or parallel port device) to run the game. ESRI uses them on their GIS applications. Regards, Mark Wolf