FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Many companies maintain that DRM is necessary for them to protect their copyright, however, I find this argument specious, for there have been few cases where it has significantly delayed the piracy of music, software, and other electronic goods, and no cases where it has outright prevented the piracy thereof. Considering that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives DRM the force of law, even when it prevents fair use, I think it is questionable if companies should be able to just use any sort of DRM they please. Still, I will concede that point for the time being for the sake of the issue at hand. It is absolutely crucial that every DRM-containing product explain its DRM and how it will affect one's computer clearly and in detail on its packaging. To not explain the DRM at all, which is a popular practice at the moment, is to undermine a user's control of their own computer, of their own property, and to not explain the DRM on the product's packaging, or to explain it only in a manner that is difficult to understand, is to force the consumer into a gamble on whether or not this product will contain something they don't want on their computer. Requiring DRM to be detailed on a product's packaging seems like a win-win situation to me, the companies can use DRM as they see fit and the consumer can know exactly what they are buying. The only reason I can see for anyone not to want a product's DRM detailed on its packaging is if a company wants to try to trick a consumer into buying a DRM-laden product that they would not want if they were fully informed of its nature, which is obviously a grossly unfair thing to do. Just as foodstuffs must have their nutritional information detailed on their packaging so that consumers can know what they are putting into their body, DRM-containing products should have their DRM detailed on their packaging so that consumers can know what they are putting onto their computer. In fact, it is quite possible that a standardized DRM label similar to the nutritional label found on food and drink could be created.