FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I have followed Digital Rights Management technologies, also known as DRM, with great interest for a few years. I as a consumer need to be aware of what products that contain software that may hinder my ability to enjoy a product I have paid for on my own terms. To that end I try not purchase software that contains DRM of the more invasive kind. It is one thing to require someone to have a software disk present within a disk drive of a system as a means to prove ownership. It is a whole other thing to install software on my system that is somehow supposed to prove I purchased my game legitimately after installation. How is this possible? How does DRM software prove I own a physical copy of software? All I know is that it takes up system resources in an attempt to constantly verify, or periodically verify, that my copy of a game is legitimate through use of my Internet connection. This is a hassle because what if I am without an Internet connection when the product needs to check against a database to prove I have a legitimate copy and or have not modified the software I have purchased? Once I was without an Internet connection for a period of months and was unable to enjoy software I paid for as a result of DRM that came with the software. I fear that at some point in the future I will not be able to enjoy the software I own. What if the company that created it ceases to exist? What will happen to the server or servers at the other end of the DRM they included with their product to prove I have left it unchanged and or purchased legally? I know that DRM is an attempt by companies to cut losses. To prevent third parties from obtaining a digital product illegitimately. But time and time again I find out that the methods employed to prevent people from stealing a piece of software often drive people away from a purchase of said software legitimately. I should know because there was software I learned of that would become available or was available for purchase that I will not purchase because of the DRM employed by it. Said DRM requires an Internet connection, and I would be unable to enjoy my purchases if my Internet connection was unavailable yet again. I do not wish to go through the hassle of trying to load a program. Only to be informed that it cannot detect an Internet connection and update so it will not start up. I can understand DRM software that needs an Internet connection if said software was utilized online. However products that do not involve networking should not use such DRM schemes. Products that have an online component but are capable of being enjoyed without an Internet connection should not have such a DRM scheme as well. Because at times the servers that support the online component end up going offline due to the company trying to save money and or due to a lack of users utilizing them. The need to check my purchase constantly, remotely, is like someone coming up to my apartment door and asking if they can see all the software on my computer. At any time of day. And then asking for me to produce installation disks for each and every program on my computer. Then informing me that for each program I am unable to produce a disk for. I cannot use until said disk is shown to them. Try imagining someone doing that once a week or every three days. It would become nerve wracking very quickly. Also imagine someone knocking on the door to your home after you arrive with a newly purchased piece of software and then informing you of the fact that you can only install that piece of software four times on your computer. And that even if you remove it, you cannot get back one of those installs without first speaking with them. It would be time consuming, wasteful, and make it seem as if you just rented the software as opposed to purchased it considering all the conditions attached to just having it in your home. We do not need invasive DRM, we as consumers just need a product worth purchasing. Those who want the product without purchasing it should not even be considered when the thought of inserting DRM into software comes up. Companies should think of those who will legitimately purchase software and how best to retain them as a customer. Not drive them away from an easy sell with useless conditions to their ownership of their software.