FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
As both consumer and developer (I am an associate producer at a southern California studio), I am well aware of the need for protection of developer and publisher rights. However, as the war over DRM escalates, it has come to the point where excessive DRM infringes on the ability, the right of the consumer to enjoy that which he has paid for - while unscrupulous pirates simply crack the software and enjoy it at their leisure. More than once, consumers have publicly bemoaned the difficulties of enjoying games they have paid for in full - and turned to pirates for solutions. One need only Google infamous examples like SecuROM and Starforce - and recent AAA releases like Grand Theft Auto IV and Spore - to see just what kind of an impact draconian DRM measures have. There is need for DRM - the problem that needs solving at this point is how to architect it such that the consumers aren't the ones paying the price while pirates laugh it off. Gabe Newell commented that adding value - not punishing consumers - was the way to go. It's about incentive, not chains. And while this isn't a viable solution for some, it's a thought that merits strong consideration. How can we, as developers, convince our fans and customers to purchase our software, even when it's waiting out there on the internet (illegally) for free? That's what we need to figure out. As an example, Apple recently announced that it would be removing DRM from their iTunes store. This is a store where a consumer can purchase songs with convenience, and while the Internet makes it so easy to steal - the iTunes store pulls in millions because of the features and content it provides, because it is simple and easy and the services are worthwhile. I realize I have not provided a solution in this letter, and for that I am sorry, because I wish I had one. But I wish to close by stressing that we cannot continue to punish consumers who spend their hard-earned money to enjoy our game and support us, the developers. We cannot give them arbitrary install limits, we cannot install policing software like Starforce behind their backs, and even inconveniencing them to keep the purchased disc in their DVD tray (a tactic easily and invariably cracked by pirates - then downloaded even by those that purchase the game) is not accomplishing much, if anything. Thank you for your time.