FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
So-called 'Digital Rights Management' ought to be done away with entirely. It does nothing productive, it inconveniences consumers, preventing them from making backups, or from taking their music with them, while doing little or nothing to discourage software piracy - as it happens, DRM encourages people to acquire DRM-free pirated software to avoid the inconveniences it causes. Worse still is DRM that is not disclosed. In this case not only is an end-user inconvenienced by the DRM, it's an unpleasant surprise waiting for them after they have already paid for a product - and in most cases, by the time they've learned of the DRM it's far too late for them to return the product and get their money back. To use iTunes as an example... why would a consumer spend ten dollars on an album they can only transfer to five computers and burn onto seven CDs when they can get the same album for free with no limitations on how many times it can be transferred, copied, or burned? To expect people to pay for a strictly inferior product is foolish. And that's what DRM does to a product - it reduces how much the consumer, the end-user can do with their product, reducing its competitive value. On the other hand when you compare the same free file with a now DRM-free ten dollar album, you are looking at two identical products save for cost. Once you take out the issue of product quality, of usability, you can move on to the moral issue - buying the ten-dollar album means you are supporting its creators, while downloading a pirated copy goes from being an issue of usability to being more apparent as simply another form of stealing.