FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
DRM has hindered my enjoyment of media greatly and has hence influenced my purchasing decisions greatly. My most memorable, early experience came with my use of an MP3 player (Panasonic SV-SD80) that required songs to be encrypted on the MP3 player's memory so as to inhibit transfer off of it. Typically, it may take a minute or so to transfer a batch of songs. With the DRM encryption measures, it would take upwards of half an hour or an hour, and that's even if it transferred successfully. Frequently, it would cause my computer to restart, failing the transfer utterly. Needless to say, this was not an enjoyable consumer experience. What's worse is that after extensive personal research and extensive time spent with both Pansonic and Real tech support (the people responsible for the software supporting the player), the problem could not be fixed. As for media itself, I chose to stop purchasing DRM'd content from iTunes as I could not conveniently do with my media as I wished. In order to transfer it to a non-iTunes compliant device, I had to first burn the song to a CD and then rip the CD back to a digital file. Needless to say, this was not enjoyable. Another example is a game I was interested in playing, Spore. However, when I read that Spore was crippled with DRM that limited installation and was otherwise just invasive (it installed software that "called home"), I decided not to buy it. Beyond my own personal use, DRM also takes away the consumer's right to resell their own property. By applying DRM, such as in the Spore example above, after a certain number of installation, a particular copy of the game could no longer be installed. This means that if a person who was finished with the game wanted to sell it to someone, that someone would have either a diminished product, or a perhaps even possibly a product that was no longer even usable. This obviously presents challenges for resale. Particularly in the case of DRM that forces a call home to make sure it can still work, what happens when that "home" no longer exists? Companies are always going out of business, or even just deciding that a particular product line is no longer profitable and therefore discontinuing it. One example where this happened was Google, which had a DRM'd video selling service. DRM is supposed to give content creators control over content use and distribution, but all it really does is punish honest consumers. A dishonest consumer has a plethora of choices to procure any particular media, oftentimes in better quality and more convenient format. If content creators really want to compete with free, then they need to make it simple and convenient, not draconian and hostile. Furthermore, I think it's clearly wrong to use DRM just to try to eke out a little more profit on release by crippling the resale market.