Certified Computer Consultants, LLC
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I am an IT consultant and network engineer, and see first-hand the sorry state of DRM technology in several computers every week. The content owners hire a firm to come up with a program to ostensibly protect their content. The firm then, with no oversight or obligation to put out a safe or responsible product, kludges together something that they think will keep people from accessing the content. This solution is usually some kind of brute-force approach that will endeavor to replace the computer's inner workings to prevent whatever they don't want to happen. If, for example, they don't want the consumer to copy a CD, they overwrite the CD drive's drivers with their own software that explicitly disallows such copying. If this breaks the consumer's computer, what do they care? Most often the consumer has no way of knowing that the music or movie or program they purchased inflicted this damage on their system. All they know is that it suddenly began to act erratically or stopped working entirely. Meanwhile, the pirates and thieves of the world strip out the DRM program and receive the same content with no damage to their computers. Most programs for computers are available to pirates even before they hit the shelves on the store! The protection does nothing, at all, to deter or even slow the thieves. Meanwhile, the honest consumer suffers from the poorly-written DRM running rampant on their computer, without their consent (the consent having been buried in the middle of a twenty-page contract that flashed up when they installed the program). It's a cruel irony that DRM ensures that the honest person suffers while the dishonest person is completely unaffected.