Warning: Rants and text-walls ahead.
Anyone who's looked at a gaming forum lately has no doubt come across a few heated debates about Copyright law, and Digital Rights Management. From what I gathered, the general consensus is that Modern copy protection is failing, and failing hard. Not only does it encourage the piracy it seeks to thwart, but it discourages legit customers from buying their products.
I think the reason this is, is because we are using 18th Century copyright laws to regulate a 21st Century world. To explain why the 18th Century laws wont work today, I'll have to explain the law itself.
In America, copyright doctrine is broken down into 3 categories. Exclusive Rights, Fair Use, and Unregulated Use.
The exclusive rights (or regulated uses) are the things that only the holder of a copyright can do legally (reproduce a work [copy], create a derivative work [write a sequel], distribute the work [sell, or give away], and publicly display the work [obvious]). Anyone who wants to use a work in these ways needs special permission from the copyright holder.
Fair Uses are the few things that would normally fall under exclusive rights, but are unregulated, and don't require permission from the copyright holder, such as citing a work in an academic paper, or making a parody of a work.
Unregulated Uses are all the things that are not regulated by copyright law. You can read a book, you can memorize said book, you can lend said book to a friend, you can discuss said book with other people who may or may not have read it, you can borrow said book from a library, you can use said book to prop up your table, you can sell said book after you got tired of it, you can modify said book (like ripping out pages, or erasing that chapter you thought was retarded, and rewrite it as a fan-fic), etc.
Before the advent of PCs, it was pretty black-and-white as to what you could and could not do. Pretty much the only thing you couldn't do with a legally bought copy was to copy it word for word, and then redistribute it. It was nigh-impossible to violate a copyright without mal-intent.
But when you throw PCs into the mix, EVERY THING YOU DO CREATES A COPY. Just installing a game to play, you have the copy on the disc, the copy on the harddrive, and a copy in RAM. Looking at a book online makes a copy in your Temporary Internet Files folder, and another in RAM. There's no escaping it. So now, almost all formerly unregulated uses fall under the "reproduce" part of exclusive rights, and thus, are regulated under current U.S. copyright law.
Now that almost all uses are regulated, a publisher can pretty much dictate when, how, and how often you can use a digital work. Want to loan a game to a friend? Too bad, your copy is locked to your PC. Want to quote something from a digital work? The holder can forbid it in the EULA. Want to mod the game? Good luck not getting a C&D a year into the project. Almost everything that we could do with an offline copyrighted work that was once perfectly legit can now be regulated by the copyright holder. Hell, the copyright holder can even regulate how many times you're allowed to READ an e-book. And as you all know, a copyright holder can regulate how many times you can install a game, regardless of whether or not there is mal-intent behind multiple installs. If they wanted, they can regulate what time of day you can run a program. Just read any EULA of a recent game. Most of it is legal speak for "Even though you bought this game in a store, you dont own it, and we still have all rights to it, so here's what you can and cant do with this game." When we buy a game, we're not actually buying the game, but a license to use that game in a way the publisher deems fit.
This is why current copyright law fails. It fails, because it is outdated, and cannot deal with today's technology.
Now I'm no lawmaker, and I cant claim to have the answer to this problem, but I have no doubt something needs to be done. And it seems that congress is just making it worse. Instead of making previously legal uses legal again, they're making more uses illegal. And the punishment for violating these formerly unregulated uses is becoming ridiculous. I'm sure we've all heard the stories about 6 year olds getting sued for thousands of dollars, or teens being criminally tried.
I'm not advocating piracy, however. It was illegal to distribute thousands of copies before the internet, and it should remain illegal long after. But all these regulations on things that we should be allowed to do legally anyway is just wrong.
I used this page as my reference, and shamelessly used its pictures :) http://www.sslug.dk/~chlor/lessig/freeculture/property-i.html
Its a good read, if you can get past the wall of text. The author is Larry Lessig, one of my heroes.
I'm also sure you can look up his many speeches on YouTube.