FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00760

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

I make my living as a content producer (I own and run a website online), while at the same time I am an avid content consumer (I read prolifically, watch movies, play games, etc.). Additionally, I am extremely technology savvy, unlike most of the population. I have found that most DRM technologies are not a cure-all for piracy, but can be effective at discouraging ~90% of the population from copying content. The problem is that most content owners want to discourage 99% or 100% of piracy. This is impossible, as commercial operations will always find a way to break DRM for valuable enough content. However, in the quest to make content more secure, DRM becomes increasingly obnoxious for end-users. That is unacceptable, and the government generally (including FTC, FCC, Congress, etc.) needs to set sharp limits on DRM. DRM must be implemented in a way that does not unreasonably inconvenience or intrude upon average users. For instance, DRM that requires users to remove certain programs from their computers or cell phones is unreasonable. In the US, the assumption is that until otherwise proven, an individual will obey the law. That includes their use of software, hardware, etc. Restrictions like forbidding the use of content on specific hardware (or in conjunction with specific software) creates a presumption of guilt on the part of the buyer that is disturbuing, disrepectful and Un-American. Not only that, but DRM for digital technologies needs to be congruent with content protection for physical media. That is, if DRM restricts how media can be used, then it must have a sensible physical analog. For instance, it would be totally ridiculous for an author not to sell her book to anyone who owned a Xerox machine or other copier. That is ridiculous. Copies can be used for plenty of legitimate purposes aside from photocopying the contents of a book, and in fact, the majority of uses are legal. On the other hand, I could understand an author not wanting to sell her book to someone who runs (or had run) a counterfeit book ring. To summarize: 1. DRM can never prevent 100% of people from pirating content 2. The goal of DRM should be to prevent most people from pirating content 3. DRM should not substantially impede legitimate users 4. DRM should not presume that the user is guilty of trying to pirate the content 5. DRM should be reasonable by analogy to physical content restrictions (e.g. no cameras in a theatre is a fine restriction, no playing games on a PC with DVD copying software installed is ridiculous) 6. Content creators/providers should be encouraged to pursue monetization strategies that are not harmed by piracy (e.g. product placement in a movie or video game)