FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
With regards to Digital Rights Management in the computer gaming industry there are several issues that are troubling to me as a consumer but foremost is the slippery slope that could mean other mediums such as movies and digital video recorders for instance. As is people who buy and use PC games for the most part do not care about DRM and are largely unaware as to what they are installing onto their computer (in regards to SECUROM a program that cannot be uninstalled without digging into the registry) as well as the fact that in many instances they will only be allowed to install the game a few times. However if the same method of "copy protection" were to be applied to DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and on DVRS, people would not stand for this. In other words if we give game publishers the green light to use such strict DRM, what is to stop other copy right holders from allowing users to watch a movie they own a limited amount of times? In effect it would nullify the purchase as a rental, which is what many DRM games are today. One game, Mass Effect by Electronic Arts, forces the user to activate the game online, installs Securom, and only allows 3 installs/activations which cannot be undone. I personally respect the rights of copy right holders to want to protect their intellectual property but disagree with how they are doing it. Not only are they attempting to combat piracy (which is fine obviously) but they seem to be destroying the resale market. Game publishers do not implement this kind of DRM on console games like those on the Xbox 360, so there is obviously a double standard. Furthermore their attempt to combat piracy, while laudable is not working as DRM is increasingly an excuse for people to steal games and more people than ever today pirate games. What I would like to see is finding a middle ground. The Valve gaming company uses STEAM to activate a game. It requires an online check of the purchased game every time it starts up but allows for infinite installs. Only one computer at a time can play the game so it is fair for both the copy right holder and the game user. If all company's used STEAM or a variation of it, there would be no issue whatsoever. People are going to pirate games until their is a full proof way to prevent them from doing so. In the meantime though gaming companies should try to find a solution that does not penalize legitimate buyers and sets a double standard. Thank you for your time.