FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00286

Submission Number:
Alexis McDavid
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I strongly oppose the use of DRM in retail store package games. DRM such as that on SPORE, are ineffective at preventing piracy. As an example, SPORE had one of the most draconian DRM policies to date. SPORE was also the most pirated game of 2008. What DRM does do, is hurt the honest customer who buys the game box from retail outlets. Many DRM software suites are known to cause problems with a consumer's computer. And the DRM suite does not always uninstall when the user uninstalls the game. It is also possible for a customer to lose access to a game they paid for, if an unfortunate series of hardware or software malfunctions push them over their install limit. Continuing with the SPORE example, there are arguments that EA customer support can unlock additional installs. However, EA may not be around forever. In these troubled times, enough big company names have already fallen. If 5 years from now, EA goes under, who can unlock the games people people paid for. There is a clear incentive to pirate games in this environment. A purchased game can almost be seen as a rental. Eventually, you may get locked out of a copy you paid for because of DRM issues. It has happened to me already. In addition, many DRM applications can harm the performance of one's computer. A pirated copy however, will work fine for years, and does not intrinsically become a burden from installing DRM software. As a case in point, at least one of my friends purchased a copy of the game from the store, then also downloaded a pirate copy. He felt it was wrong to truly pirate the game, but also wanted to oppose the draconian DRM, and abuse to his computer and rights as a consumer. DRM can serve a purpose however. DRM should exist to help the customer. If the DRM does not harm the customer or limit their rights, but instead gives them additional options, then opposition to it will disappear. I offer up Steam as an excellent example of DRM done right. I've been a customer of Steam for a long time, and have purchased over 60 games from them. I swore not to buy SPORE because of the DRM issue, but now that it is available on Steam, I will be purchasing it. Steam (www.steampowered.com) allows a customer to create an account, and pay for games. The games are then downloaded and accessed through that account. However, the user does not have to be online to access the games. They can be played offline without the computer having to "check in." The Steam software does infect the computer at deep levels to monitor software use. It is just the key to unlock the games, and it is amazingly unobtrusive. I prefer to buy my games from Steam, even when retail boxes are available that have no DRM on them. Please, I encourage you to work to protect the rights of us, the consumers. Current use of DRM abuses our rights to legally use property that we purchase. DRM, if used as an enhancing feature, instead of a club, will only enhance the bottom line of publishers, while giving consumers choices and protecting their rights. Sincerely, Alexis McDavid