FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Digital Rights Management is a powerful technology for preventing unauthorized usage of intellectual materials. However, the technology provides more caveats than benefits: 1. DRM requires some kind of encryption or obfuscation, which then requires software to de-encrypt it. This software might be restricted to a proprietary model, such as Apple's iTunes, which, until very recently sold mostly DRM protected music. The music purchased could only be played in iTunes and MP3 players developed by Apple that supported the iTunes FairPlay DRM. DRM software on video games and other PC/Mac software requires process time and possibly additional background processes and resource usage. DRM further prevents mobilization of the property you purchased in the even the proprietary model doesn't support it anymore. When you legally purchase media, it shouldn't chain you to the DRM server software model forever. Now that Apple is planning to provide DRM-free music through their service, consumers are free to take their music with them on any device they own, on any operating system, forever. 2. DRM is a poorly explained buzzword to most consumers who are unaware of their restrictions when purchasing media. This in turn generates technical support loads on companies that utilize DRM to help their consumers actually use their product. It should not be hard or restrictive to use what you just purchased. 3. DRM is designed to prevent software piracy, but it does a very poor job at it. There is no instance of a DRM system that has withstood the unlimited resources and time of software pirates. The fact that most software is now developed with well-known APIs and SDKs further reduces the time to reverse engineer a system. As a result, current DRM practices border on making any consumer feel like they're a criminal until proven innocent. In Windows XP's Windows Genuine Advantage model, if a consumer installs a legal version of Windows XP on their system, it will disable access to itself if the consumer doesn't register their copy of Windows XP in 30 days. Software should not assume the user is planning to steal it. Please recommend an abolishment of DRM practices.