FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00309

Submission Number:
N Lawrence
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
While I can appreciate the companies that deploy DRM technologies wanting to protect their Intellectual Property (IP), the problem is the technology only serves to inhibit the honest. Historically there has not been a form of DRM yet that has stopped 'hackers' from obtaining the material they desire, while it often has a tendency to cripple honest consumers' flexibility to use the technology as they desire within the bounds of the agreement between them and the developers. Those who have no moral compass when it comes to stealing IP will not be phased by a simple technological roadblock in the form of DRM. They usually have both the time and the motivation to break through such limitations, not only for their own personal gain but for the "bragging rights" such accomplishments often afford them among their peers (who are more often than not of the same moral fiber). Additionally, there are often times people who will pirate an IP because they do not want the invasive properties of the DRM to be on their personal computers (PCs). There are a great many reported cases of DRM technologies such as SecuROM causing PCs to stop functioning in some fashion, either via a piece of hardware that stops responding to normal operations because the DRM has seized control of it, or the DRM causing a cataclysmic failure of the operating system (OS) itself. There is also the matter of DRM technologies such as the infamous "Sony BMG Rootkit" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_CD_copy_prevention_scandal) which were not only invasive, but actually *caused* harm to PCs worldwide. No IP protection should ever inhibit the use of the PC where it does not relate to the IP, let alone create larger vulnerability threats. As a final note I believe there are a number of people who pirate IP simply because they prefer a 'try before you buy' scheme, too many companies simply do not provide ample demonstrations of their IP, and expect that we as consumers will readily drop our money on their product based on press reviews that receive early releases of the tech. While this is certainly true in any number of cases, there are also a large number of consumers who are very cautious with their spending habits, and are unwilling to invest in an IP if it is not demonstrably what they are looking for in that particular technology. This results in one major implication that relates to most companies' "defense" of DRM: the "lost sales" that are often projected due to piracy are many times lower than the projections, since many of those people will go out and buy the product once they've been given a chance to actually TRY the product. If more companies would make an effort to provide ample, consumer-available, hands-on demonstrations of their IP, I believe they would see a much larger number of first-day sales and a drop in first-day pirating attempts of their IP, on account of these savvy consumers who are more cautious with their spending habits. DRM will never stop the determined corrupt from obtaining what they wish to steal. It only serves to handcuff the honest person's flexibility with the software they have purchased and agreed to use responsibly. Thank you for your time!