FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00093

Submission Number:
Andrew Schilling
Outside the United States
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Dear Sir or Madam, Thank you for inviting this public comment. I hope my experiance can help with your decision making. When I was stationed in the U.S. I found DRM irritating. Growing up, a CD or a tape was something I owned, could copy for backup if I wanted, or give to a friend if I thought he'd like it better. It was strange to find that some company had decided I no longer had those rights with music I downloaded. After all, I paid the same price. Headlines like this one from today's news illustrate the problems with the notion of someone else controlling my rights: "Fictionwise used Overdrive to provide DRM encrypted ebooks to their customers and Overdrive has informed them that they will be shutdown on 30 January with no reason given. Since Fictionwise doesn't have the decryption keys, they are not able to provide new versions of the books to all customers." It was my assignment to Japan that really brought the issue into relief for me. Japan is a nice place, but foreign to me. I was happy to know that media I loved in the U.S. was moving from the airwaves to the internet and that I would still be able to watch my favorite TV shows on NBC.com, HULU and the like. That I would be able to download my favorite movies from NetFlix's amazing new movie streaming system. Imagine my disappointment then when I first visited HULU from Japan and was greeted with a message along these lines "due to the region associated with your IP address this service is not available." I got the same from NetFlix (though, bizarrely they were happy to continue mailing me DVD's), the same from NBC.com and others. The feeling was very much the same as the one I had paying the same price for music but being more restricted in my use. Nothing had changed except DRM. I am the same person. I am in this place because my government told me to be here. I am willing to pay the same as any other American. What is the difference? Apparently, in the digital space I do not have the "right" to watch the movies I want. In physical space, I can have the movie mailed to me and watch it. It is the same TV, which the US government paid to have shipped here. It could even be the same movie. But some company has taken that right from me in digital space. I struggle to see the upside of DRM for the consumer. What rights to I have now that I don't have with physical media? None. DRM is a misnomer. They are not "managing" rights, they are "restricting" or "removing" rights. You, my government, should make them stop. I'm no less an American citizen today than I was before the Marine Corps sent me to Japan. No matter what NBC says. Very Respectfully, Andrew Schilling Captain USMC