FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00460

Submission Number:
Brennan Young
Student at Jacksonville State University
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I've purchased several games in the last year that have come with DRM restrictions. I see the need for this technology as piracy is more rampant than it ever has been before. However, the current implementation of this technology does very little to prevent piracy, and in essence, it "punishes" the consumer by limiting the number of times they can install a given program. While I applaud the ideal thinking of software companies, the execution is usually poor at best. As an avid gamer, I am always trying to keep my PC up-to-date with new hardware and software (i.e. drivers) that supposedly upgrade my PC when installed. However, some DRM methods use hardware as a means of verifying a computer. This means that if the hardware is physically changed, a copy of that game/key is lost if DRM is embedded. In essence, I get punished each time I upgrade my computer. This is not only unfair to me as a consumer, but it also makes me want to move to a platform that doesn't have DRM, i.e. consoles. The problem with consoles is that you can't customize them, which is why I use my PC as a gaming system. This is a "no win" situation. The other area that I see DRM intruding on is privacy. While I believe that software companies have the right to "license" a copy of their software to the consumer, they should not have the right to limit what the consumer does with that software. Provided that the software is not resold, shouldn't the consumer be free to install and use it as they see fit? $50 for a game is a lot of money, and for someone to be told how they must "use" the software simply negates the purchase of the rights to use that software. There should always be terms of service, but when a software company limits the usability of that software even though you purchased a full license of the given software, that means the consumer is only purchasing "partial rights" to the software, even though they are paying full price. DRM in it's current state is a joke. Not only does it not cut down on piracy, but it punishes the consumers who do pay for legitimate copies of the software. There is a solution to this problem, and I use it a lot. It's called "Steam." Valve software company has created a system where you purchase games on an account and download them to as many computers as you please. As long as you are online and the game is installed, you may access it. This is the perfect DRM. No limited downloads, no CD's, no activation keys, etc. Buy a game, download the game, and play. That's my synopsis of the industry in its current state. From what I've seen, Electronic Arts is the main culprit with DRM exploits. Not surprisingly, they are also the largest 3rd party game developer in the world, and I believe their implementation of DRM is a response to their declining sales during the last several years. Fortunately, most people only buy "good" games, so perhaps if EA listened to their fan base, they might make more money. Also, the Crysis games contain DRM code as well. You can also download those games from "Steam." The only problem is that if you purchase them from Steam, you're still bound to EA's DRM as well as the Steam-based DRM. I wouldn't complain if they dropped EA's DRM in favor of the Steam-based DRM, but they don't. This is a horrible move by EA. DRM is good. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Valve has done it correctly. EA has not. Please examine both parties to see what needs to be done to correct this issue as a whole. I think legitimate consumers and publishers/developers will benefit from DRM greatly if it's done correctly.