United States Air Force
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
First, thank you for allowing submissions from the general public on this topic with such an easy to use format. It's imperative that citizens be allowed a voice on such an important issue, and I'm quite pleased to see your efforts into setting that up. DRM (Digital Rights Management) enforcement by the media and gaming industries is a farce at best. It makes next to no impact on "pirates". In fact, pirates in almost all cases end up providing a higher quality product for the average consumer. DRM is only restrictive to an honest, cash-paying customer. In many cases, DRM restricts the number or type of devices I legally own from legally utilizing that product, or denies me from using it altogether. For instance, with Apple media products I am restricted to 5 computer systems total (or less), and also only to certain brand names of systems. But if I were to purchase the music on a CD, I can play it on any device meeting the CD-Audio standard without any restrictions whatsoever. Yet, if I simply download that same product from a "pirate" resource, I have no restrictions of any type -- I can play that music on nearly any device. For TV shows and movies, DRM is even more restrictive! At least with music from iTunes or Amazon, I'm allowed to burn a CD of that music (with some new DRM restrictions), but not with any TV shows or movies from any download-capable media outlet. If you "purchase" (and I use that word in quotes because it's a farce) a TV show from iTunes, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, or Amazon, you cannot play it except on very very few select devices. Sometimes only 1 device at all, and those devices are completely different for each competitor. This is not the case if I download a product from a "pirate" website -- nearly all devices (Mac, Windows computers, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, etc) all play non-DRM files with ease. Finally, with almost all video games today, the DRM restriction not only cripples your ability to actually use the product in some cases, but it prevents reinstalls if your computer fails and you have to put it on a new hard drive or computer. For instance, many DRM restrictions now require an internet connection to authorize your play. Without this, you cannot play the game you purchased. This happened with a game I bought at the BX while deployed in Iraq. I legally purchased it, and could not use it because I required a non-military internet connection in order to play, when it CLEARLY was a non-internet enabled game and made NO mention of requiring the connection to play. To make the situation worse, because the software was now opened --- I could not return it. My only solution was to get a "cracked" version of the game from a friend...who downloaded it from a "pirate" website. Once again, the pirated version was of higher quality than the legal product. Finally, the common theme with all of these systems is that DRM disallows "The Doctrine of First Sale" for copyrighted material. There's no way to remove a movie from your Xbox and sell it to a friend, though you could legally do that with a DVD. There's no way to remove a DRM-restricted music file from iTunes and sell it, it's not possible without cracking it, which is supposedly disallowed by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This must stop! When a citizen purchases a product, it should be theirs to do what they wish within legal boundaries! I should be able to legally resell the product, like I can with anything else in my home! I should be able to play it on any capable device, and not be restricted because of monopolistic handshake agreements between companies! Without action soon, "pirates" will continue to provide the product that consumers want --- even though they would prefer to be honest and purchase the product, rather than violate copyright by downloading from a torrent site. I implore you to take action, and provide an agreement that satisfies customers and companies alike. Thank you.