FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
My experience has been the DRM is a huge impediment to consumers, and does little to actually help content producers and owners. When the free pirated copy of something is easier to use and of higher quality than the legitimate commercially available version, is it hard to think which version people will prefer? I make an effort to buy legitimate versions of things I love whenever I can, but sometimes have to really go out of my way to do so and get a product I can actually use and do with as I please. For example, because of the restrictions on purchases from the iTunes music store before they started eliminating DRM, I refused to buy anything there that used DRM because I couldn't stream those tracks to any of the devices hooked up to my stereo in the living room. I had to hope that the songs I wanted showed up on another store (like eMusic) that didn't use DRM, or to try to go out and find a CD copy (not always easy with the more obscure music I like), which was sometimes difficult, and would often end up costing me more, so that I could rip it myself, at whatever quality I wanted, and be able to do whatever I wanted/needed to with the file (like stream it to my living room). I'll admit I sometimes went ahead and got a pirated copy because it was just easier, and i knew it wouldn't come with any arbitrary restrictions on it. I've also had friends burned by DRM when a company decided to top supporting the products, and they became unusable, or highly restricted. DRM for music, movies, and basically any other product, doesn't do much of anything to stop piracy (One can easily find just about anything on the internet, so clearly the DRM is not actually hindering pirates, otherwise these products wouldn't be so widely available), and only hinders people who are willing to pay for content. Over time arbitrary restrictions on content, and the hassles these cause, are only going to drive more people to become fed up and turn to illegal pirated content that they can actually use. I'll say it again, if the free illegal copy is actually BETTER, and easier to use than the legitimate one, who exactly is being served? Not the producer of the content, who is losing sales, and certainly not the consumer who has to choose between paying to get an inferior product and breaking the law.