https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/43/US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svg/150px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svg.png?resize=150%2C1502008 was a very busy year in the video game industry.  It was also busy in the sense of lawsuits.  Put those two together, and you’ll get to the point of this topic:  SecuROM.  SecuROM brought hell to the gamers last year, especially with the dealings of Spore.  While it has existed for a few years now, SecuROM mostly reared it’s ugly head in September when Spore was released.  Various protests were held (1 star amazon rating), lawsuits created, and the fact that it didn’t accomplish what it was suppose to do…in which resulted in the game being downloaded to make it the most pirated game of all time.

Well, apparently the topic of DRM has reached the Federal Trade Commision, and the goverment agency has decided to hold a town meeting. Set for Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle, the event aims for the following:

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. Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations. Interested parties may submit written comments or original research on this topic.

The best thing about this is that we have a voice!  The FTC allows us to submit requests to be panelists and to recommend other topics to discuss.  You can submit this to drmtownhall@ftc.gov by January 30, 2009.  Depending on the expertise, FTC could select you to represent a range of views.  Make your voice heard and submit your complaints today!

Oh, and in case people start bickering on DRM, I thought I would throw this quote out there from ARS Technica:

Too often, customers have no clear picture of what else they may be installing onto their computer when they buy a game, or how those programs could affect the day-to-day use of that computer. There is no disclosure, no accountability, and very little education going on around the issue of DRM and its related technologies.

It’s likely the discussion will be lively, with both publishers and consumer rights associations weighing in. The core issue is a simple one, however: consumers deserve to know what they’re installing, and exactly what it does. It’s looking increasingly likely that consumers may need the FTC’s help to make sure what happens during software installations becomes as transparent and open as possible.