FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Hello, Regarding the implementation of DRM in software products or media, from the perspective of the FTC I would personally like to see a high level of concern for maintaining the rights of users. Today the DRM scenario is such that consumers who purchase genuine software may have restrictions on it that consumers who purchase counterfeit software would not. While this should be permitted in my opinion, manufacturers should be required to provide pre sale documentation of exactly what DRM is used to secure a particular piece of software and how that will affect the user. This way consumers can make an informed decision about whether to purchase the software. An example of what I mean is that some software available for Windows will not run in conjunction with CD drive emulation tools. In the current state a consumer who chooses to use a CD drive emulator has no way of knowing that their newly purchased software will refuse to run. Retailers will generally not permit returns of opened software so this consumer has no recourse except to obtain a "cracked" version illegally over the internet in order to get the software to run. People who buy the software shouldn't need to do that in order to use the product they purchased. My second concern is regarding the continued availability of products using DRM. Some DRM implementations are such that they require the software to be able to authenticate itself over the internet with a license server or some other remote machine maintained by the developer of the software. If this developer were to cease operations, or to simply stop maintaining the license server, users who purchased a license to the software would not be able to use their product. The FTC should consider mandating some sort of an escrow requirement for this type of service so that if the developer does cease operations the escrow provider can and would be required to release a tool provided by the developer that would allow the software to continue to function via some mechanism.