FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
As evidenced by recent events, specifically several major PC videogame releases over the course of the years 2007 and 2008, current Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies have not only been proven inneffective, but also detrimental to the rights of the average consumer across the United States. While DRM may seem well intentioned on the surface, the effects can be anything but. In one of its most recent and controversial forms, the DRM included with the PC version of EA's "Spore" ended up completely failing to protect the developer/publisher from the threat of software piracy, while punishing those who legally purchased a copy of the game by limiting installs and generally making it more difficult to access their legal copy for use. It's slightly ironic that a software pirate benifits even more over the legal consumer with the afformentioned DRM software as once the DRM is cracked (which will inevitably happen no matter how secure the software is), the pirate has a restriction free version of the software (a videogame in this case). In fact, Spore reportedly became the most pirated game in history due in large part to its publisher's frivilous use of ethically questionable DRM software. Another troubling trend of DRM, and also some of the digital software distribution business models through what could arguably be called DRM, is the systematic destruction of the secondhand market. By limiting installs and placing restrictions on the number of unique users able to make use of a particular copy of software, the publisher effectively destroys the resale value for the consumer. This is unprecedented in other, similar types of consumer goods, and it takes away rights from legal consumers. As a legal consumer of many products that could possibly implement various types of DRM software, I strongly urge the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize the methods by which software developers and publishers are attempting to "protect" themselves from software piracy, and implement regulations to protect the average consumer's rights. Please prevent the destruction of our rights, please stop these corporations from taking advantage of us, the consumers.