EFF Calls On Government To "Mitigate" DRM
In the lead-up to FTC "Town Hall" meetings on digital rights management, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a statement calling on the U.S. government to "mitigate the damage that digital rights management technologies cause consumers."
The EFF said DRM, in conjunction with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, "impedes innovation and thwarts consumers' rights" and called upon the commission to study copy protection efforts and establish guidelines to minimize its impact on consumers. While many digital content creators and publishers claim that DRM is necessary to protect copyrights and sales of digital media, the group noted that DRM schemes are typically broken almost immediately after their release to the public.
Among the more interesting and salient points in the filing is a statement made by Microsoft engineers who were studying the effectiveness of DRM back in 2002. They concluded that illegal distribution methods, referred to as the "darknet," would continue to thrive into the future and rather than helping fight piracy, DRM would actually drive more people to it.
"There is evidence that the darknet will continue to exist and provide low-cost, high-quality service to a large group of consumers," they said. "This means that in many markets, the darknet will be a competitors to legal commerce. From the point of view of economic theory, this has profound implications for business strategy: For example, increased security (eg. stronger DRM systems) may act as a disincentive to legal commerce."
"Consider an MP3 file sold on a web site: This costs money, but the purchased object is as useful as a version acquired from the darknet," they continued. "However, a securely DRM-wrapped song is strictly less attractive: Although the industry is striving for flexible licensing rules, customers will be restricted in their actions if the system is to provide meaningful security. This means that a vendor will probably make more money by selling unprotected objects than protected objects. In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete on the darknet's own terms: That is, convenience and low cost rather than additional security."
"DRM does not prevent piracy," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "At this point, DRM seems intended to accomplish a very different purpose: Giving some industry leaders unprecedented power to influence the pace and nature of innovation and upsetting the traditional balance between the interests of copyright owners and the interests of the public. The best way to fix the problem is to get rid of DRM on consumer products and reform the DMCA, but the steps we're suggesting will help protect technology users and future technology innovation in the meantime."
The FTC's Town Hall meeting on DRM will take place at the University of Washington in Seattle on March 25. The EFF's filing to the FTC can be read in full here. (PDF format)
Now THAT'S what I want to see in the news. Someone with a brain, making a rational case for the abolishment of something that affects my ability to enjoy my hobbies. DRM is no better at stopping piracy than kerosene is at stopping a house fire. If piracy is an issue, there's only three effective ways to tackle it, two of which are constitutional/legal. You can make the legally-purchased product more appealing than a pirated copy, you can make the product easier to obtain legally than illegally, or you can execute anyone caught pirating it.
Seriously, nothing short of capital punishment will work. It's already a jailable offense with stiff penalties, but that hasn't prevented the piracy black market from becoming one of the largest sectors of organized crime. In Asia, piracy is a bigger operation than narcotics. So yeah, execution of pirates is the only permanent solution, and while some people may go for that on the organized crime end of things, executing some kid who downloads Spore off BitTorrent wouldn't go over well.
That just leaves them with making games WORTH purchasing. Crazy thought no?
Not that anyone in government will listen to this. Or most of the industry, for that matter. They already have their ideas on how things should work, so that's how it WILL work, even if it really won't. The only thing that will change DRM is the pendulum swing of the public. Right now, the pendulum is way over on the side of lots of DRM (EA being the poster boy for that stupidity), but it's already starting to swing back the other way, just like music files. Give it a year or three, DRM will be a lot less restrictive or even gone in a lot of cases.
Mmm... 'darknet', what a lovely monicker. Very poetic!
"I wanna cast magic missile!"
"There's no one to cast it on!"
"I wanna cast it on...the darknet."
Sounds like someone's finally catching on.
It's bad when people won't pay for things, but nowadays I hear a lot of people are starting to not even pirate things. It's pretty bad when a game is so worthless people won't even "steal" it.
It's nice to hear, but how likely is it that this will actually bring some results? I don't hear any new arguments and while I consider the old arguments good, they have since long been ignored. Is EFF powerful enough to prevent those arguments from simple being ignored again?