FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00243

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Outside the United States
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FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
example1: Music. Here, DRM is a hassle for the consumer and a problem for the artists. The consumers are not entitled to make legal backups of protected songs anymore (or, are limited as to where/how/when these backups can be made). If the service provider ceases to exist, music that has been paid for will - without any possibility of re-authorizing your digital rights - end up as worthless data junk. Stripping the files from the DRM routines may be illegal, depending on where you live - so it´s no option. So if a consumers files become damaged due to whatever cause (scratched CD, destroyed harddrive), he has essentially lost all of his money worth of music, since he is not entitled by most DRM mechanisms to make backups - at least not, without a loss of quality. This is of more concern with CDs, as digitally distributed audio files are generally of a lower quality than music distributed on CD. The artists however will earn less revenue, since record labels tell them that they need to pay for the "necessary" DRM mechanisms. In most cases, artitst have no say about whether or not these techniques are used on their latest albums. Apart from changing to a smaller, independent label (forfeiting the advertising power of the large companies and therefore possible revenue) there is nothing they can do about it. example2: Software DRM fiascos have been on the rise in the past few years. The first really loud outcry came with the game Bioshock. It´s authorization scheme only allowed three installations at all, without the ability to gain an installation credit back by de-installing the game. Re-installing the operating system and re-installing the game afterwards counted as a fresh install as if it was done on a different pc. Enthusiasts, who often wipe their harddrives during the course of hardware tests, found themselves unable to play the game after a short time since they couldn´t install it anymore. Plus, even though it is strictly a single player game and canno be played online, you have to have internet access to be able to play it. What good did it do to sales? According to several websites the game was available as a cracked, DRM-free copy 2 days after release. So the publisher paid a lot of money for the DRM, for the activation servers which have to be kept running so people can install the game a few years down the line, and only gained a few days of a head start from the pirates who probably would not have bought the game anyway, even if they wouldn´t ve been able to get it "for free". 2K Games gave in to the players and loosened the restrictions, because they realized that a lot of customers were upset. They got a lot of negative press due to this. The same story went down recently with Spore. A hotly anticipated game, sales were rather lukewarm concerning the hype since the DRM was again a very painful and installation limited affair. Some websites even advised against buying the game, since its DRM mechanisms install quite deep into the system and might pose a possible future security risk. According to news sources, the game was available as a pirated version even before it hit stores, so again DRM did nothing to prevent this. Limiting the number of available installs has only one purpose: To limit the sales of used software. But if a program is sold as a budget title later, DRM can backfire in a different way. Here in Germany, the game EARTH2160 can now be bought for 10€ in the bargain bin. You cannot play it though, since the voice driven activation servers for the keycodes are broken. Without any DRM, this would not have happened. BTW, Securom which is used as a DRM software in Bioshock, Spore and many other titles is made by Sony DADC Austria. The same company that had a problem with their audio copy protection mechanisms installing unwanted software on PCs a short time ago.