FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
DRM has been a long standing tradition in the computer software market, actually pre-dating the term itself. It started with the method of prompting the user for a certain letter or word listed on some page of the user manual and has evolved into even more arcane, annoying methods. One of the worst offenders is a company known as EA, their management has become paranoid, phobic even that there is some huge piracy movement that is just out to get them. They now employ a 3 authentication rule on a game called Spore that has caused a big controversy. The problem is that EA thinks that this will control piracy, but the truth of the matter is that it is a problem that has always exsisted and will never be stopped. What EA fails to realize is that their rediculously restrictive counter-piracy measures will only drive more paying customers toward illicit copies that don't have some draconian authentication measures. If EA and like companies would put half as much effort into making a game that works properly as they do into making new means of DRM, I think they would have a much more loyal, happy customer base. Instead of DRM, companies like EA need to focus on Quality Control, making sure that a product that someone buys off the retail shelf is going to work properly when they get home and install it. The consumer should NOT have to be subjected to games like Sims 2 installing hidden software like SecuROM, software that, aside from protecting EA's precious Digital Rights, usually ends up clogging up the customer's computer, eating up resources and slowing it down. After installing this corporate-sponsored clog-ware a customer should at least be able to enjoy his or her game, but instead the game will crash, because, though it wasn't stated anywhere on the box, the game has minor incompatibilities with the user's graphics card. So now, the customer goes online to find a patch at EA's site, only to find a promise that EA is working on the problem and will release a patch soon... dated 5 months ago, about the time they did release a patch, only to pull it again because the patch crashed computers as well. Instead, the customer has to turn to a patch made by a 3rd party developer, someone not even connected to EA, a fan of the game... But at least the DRM works, right? I don't beleive this scenario is fair to any customer of any business, but I guess, as long as video game companies are going to assume that all thier customers are criminals and treat them as such and as long as they are allowed to go on doing such, this will be the likely scenario repeated over and over.