FTC to Consider DRM Policy

Published March 1, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission has announced plans to hold a March 25 “town hall meeting” devoted to digital rights management.

“Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations,” FTC explained on its Web site.

A recent class-action lawsuit against video game developer Electronic Arts alleges consumers who played the free trial version of a game did not know they were installing digital ights management software as well.

It is unclear whether FTC has authority to regulate companies’ use of DRM and whether federal officials are likely to do anything beyond assembling some experts to discuss the implications of digital copy protection policy.

“I suspect it’s more likely that some other governmental entity with more interventionist attitudes and pro-consumer policies, such as the [European Union], will threaten the future of DRM,” said Jason Snell, vice president and editorial director of Macworld magazine.

“But the media companies have a lot of money and a nearly inexhaustible supply of anti-consumer paranoia, and their lobbyists will continue to claim that without DRM they’ll be driven out of business,” Snell added.

Ben Boychuk ([email protected]) writes from Rialto, California.