FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I find DRM to be a blight on the gaming industry. It inflates the already bloated budgets on big-name games with the extra time and staff required to design the DRM, and on top of that it helps proliferate the very problem it seeks to stop. There does has not and I believe will never be an undefeatable form of DRM, and the ever more complex methods are thus only hindering honest paying customers. Said customers sooner or later become frustrated with this and turn to piracy. Some more moral-minded consumers may buy the game to support the industry and then pirate a DRM-free version so they can enjoy the product without incident. We want to play the games we buy without having to constantly ask permission, without being accused of thievery while others with stolen games and money in their pockets play freely. That said, I do not believe the FTC should outlaw DRM. I'm leery of enacting legal procedure in situations that can self-correct because it will set legal precedent, and I worry that forcing developers to sell their games a certain way will backfire down the road. Were it a matter of food or shelter or other products necessary to comfortable living it would be different, but in this case people can simply choose not to buy a product if they don't approve of the stipulations. Telling them to just go get a refund is no good either, explicitly in the case of PC games because once they're taken home they're extremely easy to copy, allowing one to return the storebought copy and have the game and the money back. What I do believe is necessary, and should perhaps have legal backing because it isn't correcting itself, is that products should be clearly labeled regarding DRM and the stipulations of the product's use. Say you were to buy a car, and by mandate of the dealer every car has to have the same password so the dealer can open them whenever they want. Car thieves can easily figure out this password (not by the dealer's action, but rather their inaction at having the password system at all). And you are not told about this password system when you buy the car. This is a dangerous practice of DRM in which software is installed without the user's knowledge or consent. Ideally the software allows the developer/publisher to keep checking over your shoulder to make sure you have a legal copy of the game, but as is the problem with DRM in general it's not a difficult lock to crack, meaning your computer is open to more dishonest sorts. Identity theft is a serious worry these days. So my reccomendation is that there be a legal requirement to clearly detail on the box the stipulations of product ownership, much like safety warning labels on other products. No doubt some will complain that it takes up a lot of space on the box to explain it all but perhaps that will convince them to make less complicated DRM. One would think it would already be illegal to sell a product without informed consent from the consumer. So long as we are properly informed about what we're buying and how we can use it, the rest is up to us. P.S. I'd like to extend on apology on behalf of the people who have no doubt sent some less than courteous messages using this form. In forums such as these where the sender and receiver may never meet each other face to face it's easy to forget that we're both human beings. Thank you in advance for considering my suggestions.