FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
DRM has many severe problems. It is a way of allowing companies to dictate usage and bypass the right of first sale. It is designed to not allow playing of content on "unapproved" players such as on Linux or other non-mainstream systems. DRM is also ineffective and creates an inferior product for the people who actually purchase the product. For example, high-definition video DRM systems are designed to be able to lock-down content if it's going through an unapproved display path, through unapproved devices. So if the consumer wants to play high-def video from his computer using a VGA output instead of using an HDMI cable, he's out of luck. "Pirated" video has no such problems, so it is a more useful product to have. DRM does not prevent piracy, as a quick search of "screener" on The Pirate Bay would turn up many movies even before they are released. If The Pirate Bay disappears, another site would eventually follow in it's footsteps. DRM also prevents people such as myself from being able to use media as we see fit. I pay for a cable subscription, but I am forced to pay an extra $5 per month in order to use a DVR. I have the hardware to record video in my computer, I have the ability to set it up, yet DRM prevents this. On top of that, there are no options I can even buy for my system that would allow me to use solutions such as the CableCARD, which only works on commercial alternative DVR's which still require a fee. Assuming I didn't want a DVR, I couldn't even plug my cable feed directly into my TV to watch it live, even though my box has a digital tuner in it. There are some channels sent un-DRM'd, but I am still required to use an additional electricity-sucking appliance that I have no other use for other than decrypting my paid-for product. Another tax on the consumer purely for DRM. Then there are music DRM limitations. Multiple problems such as Wal-Mart and Microsoft taking down their DRM servers which means they disabled rightfully-purchased content. There were "workarounds" such as needing to pay for a CD, burn said tracks to CD, and then ripping them (copying the CD to a DRM unencumbered computer file), but that quickly becomes unreasonable in the face of a large collection of music. Assuming a very generous average of 15 tracks per CD and a consumer owning 30 albums, a consumer would have had to buy 30 blank Audio CD's at approximately $15. Assuming the consumer then had speedy 32x CD-RW drive it would still take 5 minutes per CD to write them to CD for a total of 2 and a half hours of swapping CD's every 5 minutes. And then ripping them back to the computer would take between 2-10 minutes again for each CD. Average of 5 minutes, that's another 2.5 hours. A minimum of 5 hours of time if discs were changed instantly and the consumer did nothing else. All to simply preserve the content they rightfully purchased under a DRM scheme that was having the plug pulled. If they even got the permission via the DRM scheme to burn their files to a CD. DRM is only being used as a way of extracting a secondary tax upon consumers, and is ultimately damaging traditional understanding of "ownership". In a DRM-filled world, the consumer no longer owns their TV, their media, their games. They simply rent them for as long as companies deem it profitable, and the lease is unilaterally torn up as soon as the DRM owners want you to buy a newer version.