FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
The use of DRM by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders remains an unfair and impractical solution for consumers, limiting choices when purchasing hardware and creating mini-monopolies around specific formats. The way DRM works now, consumers are often forced to purchase specific hardware devices to play media which should be playable by any number of devices. A prime example of this is music purchased through Real's Rhapsody Music Store. Such music can only be played on a device which support the PlaysForSure DRM model. This eliminates all iPods and most set-top box media players. If a consumer purchases music or movies for one DRM system and then chooses to purchase a different player in the future, there is a good chance that all of their media will be rendered unplayable when, in fact, it is fully compatible, but not playable due to DRM restrictions. In a similar light, digital content providers are pressured less to compete with other digital content providers on price or quality of content if they control a majority of the hardware market because those users are "locked in" to a specific format. However, these restrictions are completely artificial because almost all digital media formats are natively cross-hardware compatible. It is only when DRM is introduced that consumers options are restricted and incompatibility is introduced. As a consumer, I would purchase more and more items online if I knew that I could play my content on a device of my choice, but as it is, I can not, so the growth of the market suffers as other consumers, like me, choose to be very selective in what digital purchases they make.