FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
Computer games companies in particular seem determined to circumvent consumer rights in a failed attempt to prevent a small portion of the public from violating their copyright. Their products often include DRM programs that must be installed to use them and can not be easily removed from a computer, even after the primary software has been uninstalled. In some cases a special program must be downloaded from an official website. In other cases the program can never be removed without completely erasing or replacing a computer's primary hard drive. No regard is given to the consumer's time or money that must be taken to remove these invasive programs. Further, the requirement to install these programs are never clearly stated on the game's box. This leaves an unaware owner in the unfortunate position of either having to install invasive software or attempt to return the now opened game. Most stores are extremely reluctant to accept returns on opened computer products. Further, these programs almost completely fail at their intended goal. For example Spore had some of the most invasive and extensive copy protection software in computer gaming history. Within days it was also the most pirated game ever. Even legitimate consumers downloaded the pirated copy to avoid subjecting their computers to the potentially damaging software included in the retail product. I personally have passed up numerous games I would otherwise have purchased at launch due to these invasive procedure. Two titles that I was highly anticipating but never bought were Freedom Force Versus The Third Reich and Spore. I had been very excited for these games but did not buy them for the reasons stated above. I did not pirate them either. I simply spent my time and money on products produced by companies that show more respect and consideration for their customers. The DRM software included on many modern computer games has several effects. It lowers sales. It encourages piracy. It punishes honest consumers. The one thing it does not do is prevent piracy. It is time for game companies to look to the music industry. They have dropped their most stringent DRM models in favor of the consumer's right to use legitimately purchased products. Why should computer games be treated so differently.