FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
DRM is not bad in general. Protecting ones product from piracy is a right companies have. However, they should not punish legitimate customers with restrictions such as a limited number of installs, programs like Starforce that can damage a customers computer, or requiring a customer to be connected to a server to authenticate legitimacy every time a user want to play a game. Companies like Stardock and Valve, with their distribution systems Impulse and Steam, respectively, are on the right track with protecting their product while not excessively restricting legitimate customers. Instead of enforcing restrictive measures to thwart piracy, they require little to no authentication to play the game out of the box. In fact, Stardock requires nothing to play their games unless you want updates or to play online and I feel it is not unreasonable to expect customers to prove legitimacy to access this extra content. Valve is a bit more restrictive, requiring at least one online authentication to play most of its games, but once you do prove legitimacy once you can play most games without this continued authentication. The fact is, unless game produces and computer producers collaborate to make PCs similar to gaming consoles such as XBOX360 or Playstation3, games will always be pirated despite any DRM present. Look at the recent release of 'Spore' by EA. Despite all the restrictive DRM present, it was still pirated and in fact probably pirated more since consumers who bought it legitimately faced enormous restrictions such as limited installs and a DRM program 'SecuROM' which until installation, the consumer is never informed of. Pirates, on the other hand, did not have to deal with those problems, and as such actually receive a better gaming experience then those who are legitimate customers. It is this kind of backward thinking that leads to public outcry and more pirating instead of less. The future of DRM should lie in companies like Stardock and Valve mentioned above that reward legitimate customers instead of punishing them. They understand the piracy is not something you can stop with programs and limited installs as pirates simply remove these features and circumvent DRM all together. Strategies such as limtied installs and backdoor programs such as SecuROM or Starforce actually drive away customers and encourage pirating since the pirated version often offers a better gaming experience then a legitimate copy.