FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
The concept of DRM in general is a good one. However, often times its implementation can create more of a hassle as well as restricting the user. One such game, Spore, implemented a DRM mechanism called SecuROM. What it did was reduce the purchaser's ability to install the game to only 5 installations. Ironically enough, the game was cracked after a day and was placed on bit torrent sites for illegal downloading. While I understand why EA did this, I don't understand why the DRM implementation and restrictions weren't disclosed to the purchaser on the box, or anywhere else in the game. Eventually, EA relaxed the terms to being able to get a reactivation back by uninstalling the game. However, if you Windows runs into a problem where you have to reformat without backing up (such as a virus), you will lose an activation. Another DRM implementation is starforce. It basically attempts to make it impossible to edit any game files responsible for handling activation without causing the game to stop working. However, starforce has been accused of causing performance degradation. Also, it has been accused of causing hardware (CD/DVD drives) to stop functioning properly or altogether, something DRM should NOT do. Requiring a unique CD key is fine to me. Requiring it being activated, fine. But trying to limit how many times the end user can activate the product on the same computer is wrong. There are ways to implement DRM that doesn't impair the users ability to use the software. One such method is Steam. Steam is a method of distribution owned and operated by Valve. Many companies have put their games on Steam for purchasing, including EA recently. Steam operates by allowing you to purchase your games though it and it is then attached to your account permanently (you can't detach games and put them on another account). You download the game via steam, and in order to play the game, it needs to validate over the internet that the game is genuine. While you need an internet connection to play, you can also install the games on your account anywhere, but only one account can be logged on at a time. Steam doesn't jeopardize performance, and it's not constricting. Microsoft's activation method is also very non-intrusive, and if activation fails, it's very easy to call them up via a toll free number and activate over the phone. Online music is now having DRM removed. Apple's iTunes is continuing to remove DRM. Amazon.com offers DRM free music. Compare it to 3-4 years ago, it was nearly impossible to get music DRM free legally, unless you bought the more expensive CD. The problem with DRM for software developers is that it's always crached. It may take a while, but in the end, it always ends up cracked. DRM methods for music, and movies have so far ended up cracked. In the end, the questions are, who's rights does Digital Rights Management protect and who's rights should Digital Rights Management protect? Right now, DRM more often then not protects the developer's rights, while seemingly violating the end users rights. I'm not saying DRM should be gotten rid of. I'm saying that DRM should protect both the developer's rights and the end-user's rights. The reason for this is that for years, they have been allowed to violate the end-user's rights. Please, correct this.