Last September's controversial release of Spore demonstrated the extent to which digital rights management (DRM) has become a wedge issue between game publishers and game consumers.
Might the government step in on the side of consumers?
That's difficult to say, but we note that the Federal Trade Commission will hold a town hall conference on DRM issues in Seattle on March 25th. The event will be co-hosted by the Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law.
The FTC is currently recruiting panelists and hasn't yet finalized topics. Here's the preliminary agenda:
- Opening remarks
- Demonstrations of DRM-related technology
- Panel discussions regarding burdens on, and benefits for, consumers, and other market and legal issues involving DRM
- Review of industry best practices
- Consideration of the need for government involvement to better protect consumers.
That last bullet point is pretty interesting, especially in light of the FTC's mission:
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.
Game consumers have been complaining loudly about DRM and lately even filing class-action lawsuits over the issue. Publishers who employ DRM routinely cite game software piracy as the reason.
Those interested in serving as panelists or suggesting topics for discussion should contact the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 30, 2009. An FTC press release offers these guidelines:
Interested parties should include both a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be addressed at the Town Hall, and complete contact information. The Commission will select panelists based on their expertise and on the need to represent a range of views.
Those with a view may also submit written comments or original research until January 30, 2009 to this URL. The town hall meeting is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. It will be webcast live on the FTC website.
Thanks to: GP reader Steve Augustino