FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I would like to voice my concerns regarding the value of "content" protected by DRM. In particular, the resale value, of which there is none. On current generation video game systems (Microsoft's Xbox360, Sony's PS3, and Nintendo's Wii) the consumer can shop in a virtual marketplace and purchase new, original games priced between $5 to $20. On all three systems, back-catalogs of older games from the mid-80's thru th late 90's are available for purchase. These games are also priced between $5 to $20, although when they were originally released to "brick and mortar" stores, they almost all were priced at $49.99. That price difference between then and now might appear to be a tremendous value to the consumer, although most of these older games rarely "stand the test of time" and pale in comparison to their modern day counterparts. Most are purchased out of curiosity and nostalgia. Regardless, once purchased, whether for $5 or $20, the consumer never has the option to resell the item, not in a "brick and mortar" backyard garage sale, nor on the modern day version called Ebay. I realize that when downloadng a game that there is no physical item, but the consumer is not allowed to resale the DRM. In many cases, such as the Nintendo Wii and Xbox360, the consumer can NOT even take their DRM content to a firend's house and play the content on their friend's system, even though it is possible to store the downloaded content to a mobile, removable storage device. Imagine if you purchased a movie online, burned the film to a DVD, but then couldn't play the film at your mother's house on her DVD player. You would be able to if you had purchased a retail version of the same film from, for example, Best Buy. In many cases purchasing "content" via download does NOT give the consumer the right to ownership of that content, but merely the "rights" to operate the content. So, you pay $10 to "purchase" a game via Microsoft's Xbox Live service and you can play the game unlimited times in your own home on your OWN system, but had you gone to a "brick and mortar" store and bought the same game for the same price, then you could resale the game to whomever you wanted and you could loan the game to your firends anytime you wanted. I can't think of any other time in American history when a consumer "bought"something but didn't actually but it.The worse part of all this, is that these game companies have stated that they would like to implement the same types of DRM on retail copies of games bought in stores. Many of these game companies have stated that the "used" or "preplayed" game market is the worse thing that can happen to a game developer. Imagine if you bought a car and you couldn't sell it. Imagine Ford Motor Company making the statement that used car sales were the worse thing that could happen to their industry. I realize that there is a tremendous difference between the price of a new car and a new video game, but imagine the total cost of buying games over a ten year period and not having the opportunity to resale those games and recoup some of your "investment." What's next? Not being allowed to resell your textbooks? Not being allowed to sell your old jeans to a vintage clothes shop? Not being able to sell an old laptop in a garage sale? I also think of it the way I think of a postage stamp. You can save 42 CENTS and pay your utility bills or credit card bills online for free, although in some cases companies do charge a fee for online payment (PSEG is one examle). But, if there was no US Postal Service how much do you think that these companies would charge you to pay your bill? When you have no other option, I guess you wouldn't have a choice in paying the $5 surcharge or whatever ridiulous amount they wanted to charge. The same apples to the game industry. If the consumer never has any option but to buy the game new, how much would these companies charge for a game? $70, $80? Either pay it, or don't play it would be there motto.