Feeds

FTC to host town hall meeting on DRM abuse

Seeking public comments, research

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Here's a glimmer of hope that 2009 will be the year of DRM reform.

Questionable DRM regimes have caught the eye of the US Federal Trade Commission, which has announced it will host a town hall meeting on March 25 to address the consumer protection, anti-competition, and disclosure issues surrounding DRM restrictions in the digital marketplace.

The FTC is also accepting public comment and research on DRM to be submitted online, due by January 30.

"Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content," the FTC states. "Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations."

The meeting will include demonstrations of DRM-related technology, panel discussions on the benefits and disadvantages of DRM use on consumers, legal issues involving DRM, and "consideration of the need for government involvement to better protect consumers."

It would seem the FTC is at least considering insisting that folks who purchase digital media be given adequate notice on the terms and material limitations of their purchases. The fact that companies cripple their products with DRM on the sly has always been a major point of contention for the technology.

Perhaps the most notorious cases of this was the Sony "rootkit" fiasco. In 2005, Sony BMG sold music CDs embedded with copy protection software that secretly installed when the disc was played on a computer. The software used hiding techniques more commonly found in malware to prevent the removal of the software while controlling system functions. The software required the use of Sony's media player to play the music, would "phone home" to Sony's servers to monitor usage and serve ads, and moreover left a backdoor open for hackers to exploit.

More recently, there was outrage over the use of including SecuROM DRM in the Electronic Arts game Spore. The DRM software limited the number of times the game could be installed, actively monitored the computer to prevent duplication, and caused hardware problems on some customers' PCs. Although EA later slackened the install restrictions, the company was hit by a class-action lawsuit in September, claiming EA intentionally concealed Spore's DRM.

"No notice of its secret installation was provided to persons who loaded and uninstalled the Spore Computer game," the lawsuit claims. "No one was told that it was a separate program installing to the Kernel of the computer and that it could not be uninstalled."

The FTC town hall meeting will be held in Seattle at the University of Washington Law School. The Commission is also seeking panelists with expertise on the subject to speak at the meeting. The public is free to attend, with no pre-registration required. A live webcast on the FTC's web site will also be available. Kudos to Ars for spotting the notice. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.