FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
All activation for software, whether the method be via the Internet or by some other means, should be made illegal as the only purpose it serves is to artificially limit the lifetime of said software. It also gives the false impression that a person fully owns his purchased software when in reality he is only renting it. If your purchased software has limited activations then it is indeed a rental and not a purchase. The unwitting consumer is completely unaware of this because even if the box says that online activation is required, he is not informed of the number of times he can activate or even that activations are limited. He is not informed if he can activate the software an unlimited number of times on a single computer that always has the same hardware, or if a small hardware change will require reactivation of said software even if the software requiring activation was never uninstalled. Requiring online activation encourages unfinished releases of software that are buggy and unstable, with the excuse being that a company will "patch it later," and then not allow unactivated software to be patched, all while limiting the total number of activations allowed. While this does "punish" those who did not legally acquire the software, it deceives the consumer that he is buying a finished and complete product. Limiting activations goes on the premise of a computer running optimally 100% of the time and never acquiring a virus or other malware that might require reformatting of a system. Furthermore, limiting activations discourages exploration and experimentation with a computer system. This in turn discourages learning as a whole. If you are punished for exploring and experimenting with your computer by losing an activation if, in the process of experimenting, you delete a critical file required for the operation of your software and must then reinstall said software, why would you ever want to learn? Requiring activation for software takes control away from the consumer who has paid for and fully owns, in every sense of the word, said software. He should be able to install it as many times as he sees fit on his own computer. Imagine purchasing a USB mouse but only being able to plug it into your computer a maximum of 10 times, after which it would stop working properly. "Why would someone unplug their mouse from their computer more than 10 times?" you might ask. To this I respond, Why it is anyone's business how many times I want to unplug my mouse from my own computer? Or imagine purchasing an external CD drive but only being able to connect it to your computer 10 times? To this I have the same response, Why is it anyone's business how many times I connect my CD drive to my computer? Finally, requiring activation for software gives software companies the ability to force consumers to buy more activations when they use up what they have secretly and unknowningly been alloted. This is unabated greed. And the only thing worse than unabated greed is encouraging more of it, which brings me back to my opening argument that all activation for software, whether the method be via the Internet or by some other means, should be made illegal.