FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I think the main problem with DRM is mostly in the way it's implemented. Limited activations do little but annoy the customer, and incite them to try to circumvent the DRM to be able to use their purchase fairly. Especially if the activation limit is not stated on the box. You can't return most DRM-locked software, and you never know that there's an activation limit until you open the shrinkwrap. Also, there's always the problem with the eventuality of the DRM server going offline, or the company that you purchased the media from folding up. What happens to your purchase then? Most consumers don't really believe it's fair that they pay more than they would normally (with prices increasing) to merely rent the content for a few years. That isn't to say all DRM is bad, or it needs to be outlawed. I just believe that a lot of implementations leave something to be desired. For example, I believe that limited activations are completely missing the point. The idea of DRM isn't to limit the law abiding consumers, but to prevent unlawful copying. The software side of DRM is what I'm most familiar with, and there is a good example of software DRM done right. Steam, by Valve software. It provides added value, in the form of a community, support, and an integrated store. It doesn't address the "what-if" of the company going under, but it really gets it right on all other counts. Personally, I believe the what-if is something that the FTC could fix. Mandate that if a company takes down the DRM servers, that they would need to release something removing the DRM protection from their files, or make available DRM-free copies.