FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Recently, I downloaded a free trial of a video game called Spore, produced by EA. I did not realize that when I installed this free trial, it also installed SecuROM on my computer. I feel that DRM software is completely unneeded in a free trial. The supposed point of DRM is to prevent illegal file sharing, so this should be of no concern with a free trial. I have heard of many people having problems with SecuROM, including disabling their CD and DVD writing (which many people use for legal purposes), disabling or altering their anti-virus programs, and even preventing them from playing the game they purchased that came with SecuROM. SecuROM is embedded into my computer's registry. Even after uninstalling the free trial of Spore from my computer, SecuROM remains. I have tried to follow do it yourself guides to remove SecuROM, but I have been unable to remove it. While I am comfortable using computers, I am not a computer scientist, and I shouldn't have to be one in order to remove software from my computer. As far as I know, SONY does not provide any way to remove SecuROM, they will only issue patches to prevent specific errors. The supposed purpose of SecuROM is to prevent illegal sharing of software, but ironically it may increase these illegal activities. People don't want invasive software on their computer, so they will download a no-CD or no SecuROM crack just to play a game they bought legally. DRM software does not stop hackers, but in cases like SecuROM it punishes law abiding software owners. Another problem I have with some DRM is that they limit the number of times you can install a program. EA's Spore, for instance, has a maximum of 5 installations. After that, you must call EA customer service and convince them that you need to install it again. This is something that isn't made clear at all when you purchase the game. My suggestion is that software must be clearly labeled when it comes with DRM software, and when it has installation limits. This isn't something that should be hidden in the huge Terms and Conditions. I also suggest that manufacturers of DRM be required to offer a simple way to completely remove their software from a computer. I suggest that limits be placed on how far DRM software can go. I have no problem with DRM protecting certain files. I do have a problem with DRM affecting legal activities like CD burning, or even worse, DRM such as SONY's XCP software which installed a rootkit that can be exploited by worms and viruses.