FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
As a consumer, I feel that the inclusion of DRM in computer software is a harmful practice. Although I pay money for the software, ridiculous demands are then suddenly made of me, such as that my computer be connected to the internet beforehand, or that I install harmful (and arguably virus-like) software onto my computer, usually unwittingly. When I pay money for software, what then gives the software vendor the right to monitor my personal usage of it in my own home and on my own computer? Software companies, by claiming that we only own temporary rights to use their software (until such time as they deem us unworthy of them), are devaluing us as customers and subjecting us to a highly imperfect and furthermore unjust system of requirements, which is determined by the unregulated whims of corporate executives with only their own interests in mind. Additionally, regardless of ethical implications, DRM tools demonstrably do not accomplish what they set out to do. Computer hackers are just as (if not more) capable of disassembling and reassembling software as its original creators are at assembling it in the first place. With enough effort, any software can be hacked to entirely remove the included DRM, enabling it to be as freely pirated as software that never had DRM in the first place. Even software companies surely are aware of this, yet they stand on the formality and continue to include DRM tools in many releases for the computer platform. Ironically, this hurts only the legitimate consumer, who is the only one left to be subject to DRM. (Anyone who intends to pirate the software can easily find the DRM-free version online.) Legitimate customers are the ones made to feel foolish for paying money for software that inherently treats them as criminals. This, in turn, leads many would-be legitimate customers to either download and use the DRM-free product even though they have bought and paid for the software already, or to bypass buying the product entirely and simply download it DRM-free, or else to resign themselves to not obtaining the software at all. In fact, the only software copying prevented by DRM is that done by customers loyal enough to still use the original software through all of this, which is obviously negligible. In general, DRM is constructed from software companies' false sense of superiority and assumes the consumers to be foolish at best, dire enemies at worst. It is an entirely uninviting premise that will surely continue to chase legitimate consumers away from the platform, if it is allowed to continue at all. It is not that I wish for all computer software to be available online for free (indeed, as that is already the case), but that I should have the same rights when purchasing software as I do when purchasing any other object.