FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00159

Submission Number:
David Johnson
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I think DRM is about balance. In the real world... people don't walk into stores and steal products. There is a fear, a conscience, and clear and present consequences that will be enough to make most people not steal. On the internet, the same does not hold. Even most of those that are creators of copywritten material pirate music or other entertainment. This is compounded by the elimination of geographic and cultural borders that the internet provides. Those that don't share the ideals, or otherwise have no love for America will have no sense of obligation whatsoever to pay for media. I think there should be some artificial barriers introduced, like DRM to provide a substitute real world deterents. Of course, the resourceful will always find ways around protections. In general, as long as the majority participates in legal practices, and the violators remain a majority... the goal has been acomplished. But when technology is moving so fast, that the tech savvy can find new ways/programs/website to distribute media, and make it popular to do, a more systemic approach will be necessary. The criteria that I would put forth for DRM are the following. It should be non-invasive. It should be effective (broken/easily bypassed DRM is no DRM). It should be global. It should be as enjoyable as Non DRM alternatives (Zune suffers because it's nicer to get mp3's than deal with their only play 3 times) DRM technologies that have been started, for instance Zune and Apple that restrict music playing have had mixed results. Zune's limit of 3 shares with friends (which is one of it's major selling points) emphasizes limitations and gives the user a "why bother" feeling. While Apple's "you bought it, our servers know that, you can redownload it later" is more sucessfull. The user feels like they have a benefit... even though DRM exists (auto backup of their purchased music). Look at other anti-policing methods that have been successful. Blizzard's World of Warcraft enjoy's very little piracy. Because it's not really the bits you are buying... They have servers that authenticate you, and allow you to enjoy those bits that were on the disc you purchased. The disc by itself is worthless/meaningless. Other videogame companies have seen the success of this and are moving in this direction. Valve's Steam is a similar success story. You never actually have all the data that makes up the game on your hard drive. You have a lot of it... but when you connect to the "media" the completion bits are sent to you. Could this approach be used for films and music? It would be tricky, as mp3 players aren't connected to the internet all the time. And with music... there's always way's to capture the results and turn them into a non-drm version. Also, look at youtube for another model of copyright protection. A self policing community. Where the users can flag material as lewd or infringing. I'm not sure how this relates to DRM... but I think all approaches should be examined. The current form of DRM is weak at best, and new approaches are needed. Perhaps all hardware vendors needs to be on board. Perhaps the only way to eliminate DRM cracking would be to have all consumer electronics expect the media to be in a secure, properly paid for format.