FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
As a consumer, I am concerned about DRM schemes involving internet-based authentication of software for which network connectivity would not otherwise be required. DRM-encrusted PC software often must connect to a publisher's servers periodically in order to verify the authenticity of the software. The DMCA forbids me from circumventing this process, but what happens when the publisher suffers from network outages or shuts down its authentication servers? These companies have no legal obligation to maintain their servers once they are no longer financially viable. They are under no compulsion to release a patch that allows consumers to lawfully bypass the authentication system after they have shut it down. PC software that I purchased over a decade ago still functions just as it did then, even though its publishers may be long gone. Software that I buy today is guaranteed to function only for as long as the publisher wishes to maintain the infrastructure which exists solely to ensure that I have not stolen from them. I strongly believe that software developers and publishers have the right to protect their creations, but I also believe that the problems with many current DRM schemes are due to an inequity in the law that offers many protections for the software industry, but few for the consumer.