FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Sins of a Solar Empire was released in February of last year by Stardock, and was one of the top 10 most purchased games of 2008 (number 6). Besides being a well received game, Sins was released with no DRM at all, and it proved many people wrong who had predicted low sales due to piracy. To top it all off, despite being a hugely popular game with no copy protection to speak of, it was not to be found on the top 10 most pirated games of 2008. On the other hand we have Spore, released in September of 2008. Spore had what many considered to be draconian DRM bundled with it in an attempt to prevent it from being pirated. It was a highly anticipated game and took the top spot for sales in 2008, beating out all the competition. However, despite the highly restrictive DRM, Spore also was the number 1 most pirated game of 2008. In the first 10 days after it's release, over 500,000 copies had been downloaded, and as of early December that number reached over 1,700,000 (yes, 1.7 million). So we have 2 games, both of them hugely popular, and the only one with DRM is also the one which is the most pirated. This shows that DRM has absolutely no value in terms of stopping piracy, and it never will. Once a game is released, it's security measures are fixed. Sometimes games do receeve patches that update the DRM, but there is no way to force a user to patch their game. Now while the DRM is fixed in place, crackers have no such limitation and have the benefit of constantly improving methods and technology, and with the ability to examine the security of that game at their leisure (something developers can't do with crackers), they will crack it. DRM wastes resources the developer could use on other things, and it often harms the users computer as well. Many people have had issues with DRM causing system instability, and more often it will cause problems for the stability of the application itself, causing constant crashes and other problems. Meanwhile a person who pirates the game does not suffer these problems as the crackers have removed the program's DRM. In effect, DRM is only able to affect legitimate users who purchased their product legally. This goes to the heart of the matter. Companies constantly try to control how you can use their products, sometimes in order to force you to buy an item twice, and sometimes to prevent piracy. DRM has never been effective in any application and it never will be, so the only people who get stuck with music that wont play on their PC are the people who paid for it. With the advent of the internet, it does not matter if a product is 99% secure, it only takes a single copy to be cracked before it is spread all over the world in a matter of minutes. This is a process that is impossible to stop, and as mentioned, the only users harmed are the legal ones. When I purchase a product, it becomes my property, and as such I can do with it as I like, within reason. I can sell my old product to a thrift store or to another person, I can destroy it, I can lend it to a friend. Why is it then permissible for a company which no longer owns my product, just the intellectual property it's made up of, to tell me when and where I can use it? Why should Sony get to decide that it's OK to play my CD in a stereo system, but I am not allowed to play it on my PC's CD player? I submit they they should not be able to exert this sort of control. Instead of assuming I am a criminal and not allowing me to use my product how I wish, criminals should simply be prosecuted for breaking the law. You may say "but these types of crimes are difficult to detect, so DRM helps prevent them from happening at all," but you must remember that DRM is not capable of doing so in all cases, and with the internet this means it cannot do so in any cases. The only person DRM will ever hurt is the consumer, a fact I can attest to as I once had to disassemble my computer because a DRM toting CD got stuck in the drive. This is simply unacceptable.