University of Georgia
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
My work, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has demonstrated that in many cases DRM technologies actually systematically disable and discourage the very traits that are demanded by the industries that use them most widely. I look particularly at the effect that technologies like DRM have had on the videogame industry. While I think short-term analysis encourages companies to deploy DRM far and wide, a more long term look at the situation indicates otherwise. DRM technologies encourage us to not understand how our devices and software works. Combined with the DMCA, it becomes illegal to attempt to better understand or make use of our technologies. Attempting to make content created for one device work with another, a task that was previously commonplace amongst individuals interested in creating new technologies and content, becomes illegal. Ultimately, we disable our very ability to work with and experiment with the technologies and media that we as consumers purchase. This discourages individuals from pursuing those skills which are crucial to innovation and the creation of new companies, products, and ideas. It runs counter to the founding principles of copyright. I tend to frame the situation as one defined by the rights of copyright holders have overshadowed the rights of individuals to produce. Paradoxically, this means that copyright holders are actually preventing the production of new future ideas. Copyright should not overshadow the ability of users to make use of and experiment with technologies and media they have purchased rights to. As currently configured, DRM combined with the DMCA has created a situation where we have hamstrung those who in all likelihood have the opportunity to create new innovations in the future.