FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I feel that the concept of having DRM is quite reasonable, but the execution is, more often than not, terribly flawed. Most importantly, it fails to do what it sets out for -- to prevent piracy. What it often ends up doing instead (in SecuROM's case, for example) is causing customers to have computer problems for having perfectly legitimate CD burning software, failing to install properly, and functioning as malware. Meanwhile, the software pirates are able to bypass DRM with the greatest of ease and share it on torrent sites in what could be considered a superior form, as it is stripped of its DRM and is no longer a hassle or privacy breach to the customer to have on their computer... not to mention the illegality of not explaining to customers what the included DRM actually will do to your computer. The problem with DRM is that it cannot serve its purpose in its current form. Legitimate customers who care enough to purchase software end up being treated like scum, based on some downright atrocious DRM design. DRM will always, always be cracked, and made available to those unwilling to deal with it (which are many). I'd be willing to bet that in many cases, bad DRM has caused a lack of sales and an increase in piracy! The game Spore is a prime example of DRM causing bad word-of-mouth -- despite mostly favorable reviews, it has received a 1.5 / 5 star rating on Amazon, mostly due to very strong complaints about the included DRM. Very few cases of DRM succeed. The best example is Steam, as it is very difficult to pirate games on, and contains no hidden malicious programs. However, with its online-only activation system, it places restrictions on customers without internet access and probably shouldn't become the standard DRM model based on that alone. I'm not sure if DRM can ever become truly successful, but a good start would be removing the malware and hidden functionality from it, so that people who pay for a game will be guaranteed to be able to make it work, so that they don't go pirate it instead. I do not condone game piracy, and find it very unfortunate that so many have turned to it over the past few years. However, I can understand why people do it. If the videogame industry is to regain some footing during these economically unstable times, DRM should either step up its game or remove itself from the picture.