FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Before I start, I want to thank the FTC for holding this forum to discuss and find solutions for what I think (and many others think,) is a mechanism that reduces and limits consumer rights as it relates to the media of digital entertainment. DRM is used by the entertainment industry to protect their investments (both monetary and IP) from piracy. While this is a noble goal to protect themselves, it has done nothing to stop piracy (in fact piracy is increasing) and ultimately harmed legitimate purchasers of their products. DRM spans the gamut of so-called protection, from CD-Keys to disabling hardware/software mechanisms, most, if not all, of the schemes have done nothing to protect the industry. As a consumer, I have a minumum expection that I own what I purchase, and that it will work for as long as I own it. Current DRM limits installations to a specific number and if/when I change my computer setup, one of those installations is taken up... or if I purchase a new computer... When those limitations are used up, I have to repurchase something I've already purchased, through no fault of my own. I find this unacceptable. Nor do I accept the industries logic that said install limits can be removed at the discretion of said maker of the DRM... Why should I have to make phone calles, send emails or contact anyone just to use something I legally own? Other forms of DRM have been known to disable hardware, such as DVD burners for no other purpose than disble the hardware. While this prevents the copying of media, it also prevents the legitimate use of this hardware, which is also unacceptable. If I make a home movie of my son playing football and want to burn that movie to a DVD to send to his grandmother, I should have a minimum expectation of being able to do that. The above are just two samples of DRM that is used by the entertainment industry. Both schemes have NOT stopped the piracy of said media and have ultimately harmed the legitimate purchaser and user of said media. Look at Spore from Electronic Arts. This is a perfect example of the failure of DRM. First, it requires online activation. What if someone doesn't have an internet connection? A legitimate purchaser can not play it??? Then it limits activations/installations to three??? In five days, Spore sold 1.5 million copies, in contrast, it was pirated an estimated 1.7 million times (and the illegal downloads started a week prior to official release.) The problem with the above, pirates got access to the game first and don't have to deal with the DRM scheme, while legitimate purchasers of the game have to deal with the limitations set forth by said limitations. Is that fair? Is that even ethical? As I said previosly, if I buy something, I expect it to be mine. That is my right as a consumer. I should not have to be limited to any type of restrictions/limitations from my purchase. Nor should I be forced to repurchase something that I did not lose, break or some other fault of my own. DRM limits the rights of the comsumer while does nothing to stop what it was intended to protect against, Piracy. And this is unacceptable to consumers. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my hope that the FTC will listen to the public and consumers and protect their rights. Regards, Donald Bradbury PA.