FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00530

Submission Number:
Roman Lajciak
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Dear Madam or Sir, I would like to draw your attention to a feature of some new DRM techniques that is very onerous to software users in general and gamers in particular. The offending feature is online activation/authentication. The problem with online activation/authentication for offline programs such as Microsoft Office or single-player games is that it artificially limits the lifespan of the program/game to the time the publisher is willing to maintain the online activation/authentication servers. This means that the program/game will automatically expire and be impossible to install on new computers if the publisher goes out of business or if the publisher simply decides that the upkeep of the activation/authentication servers is no longer in accordance with their business plan or otherwise no longer worth the cost. This is not merely a hypothetical issue - publishers as large as Microsoft, Yahoo and Walmart have decided to shut down their DRM servers dealing with DRM protected music, thus hurting a plethora of customers. Although I recognize the need to protect content (and the evidence whether online activation helps significantly in this regard is lacking at best), DRM should not create an artificial dependence on the publisher to install and use the legitimately purchased offline product. Apart from the damage this can cause to customers, this also needlessly increases exposure to and dependence on the internet, thus increasing the general internet-based vulnerability of the economy. Online activation/authentication also denies the use of offline software products to those who do not have a connection to the internet, a dwindling number, but worthy of consideration nonetheless. Requiring online activation/authentication to obtain product support or extras, is of course, another matter, as these generally require the continued existence of the publisher, servers and access to the internet regardless of whether they need online activation/authentication. Given the above, I would like to beseech you to address the problems of online activation/authentication as a form of DRM and the serious problems this creates for the customers/consumers of software and games. At the same time, please take into consideration that online activation/authentication for offline software and games artificially and needlessly increases our dependence on the internet and publisher's server farms and thus enhances our vunerability. Thank you for your understanding. Best Regards, Roman Lajciak