ARS Technica sat down with Hal Haplin, head of the Entertainment Consumers Association. They chatted about two topics: disclosing DRM in games, as well as simplifying and standardizing the EULA’s:
How do you tell consumers what kind of DRM is included in the game? Simple: use existing ideas that consumers are comfortable with. “One panelist suggested icons on the front of the box, some sort of logo. You know, you copy what’s successful, which is the ESRB: everyone understands than an “M” represents Mature, and if you flip the box over there are descriptors.” Someone suggested that the image of a lock be used, so if you see a padlock that’s fully closed, you know there is some serious DRM being used in the game. Descriptors on the back could give you more specific information. Halpin’s take? Keep it simple so that everyone can understand what’s going on with the DRM being introduced to their system.
The big question with licensed goods, such as PC games, is whether or not reselling the property is a basic right. “The area that you’re in is the first-sale doctrine, which doesn’t apply to computer software,” Halpin replies. “Why? They’re using the license model rather than the package-to-own packaged good model… my personal preference is that if you buy something and you own it, you should be able to play it whenever and wherever and on whatever device you want. This is a personal stance, not one the association has.”
Halpin didn’t seem optimistic about the ongoing ability for consumers to resell their PC games, although the official statement somewhat clarified the association’s stance. “The Law, in the area of EULAs in particular, is not as clear as it once was. And the software industry’s potential side-stepping of the First Sale Doctrine’s protections—by terming their products as ‘licensed’ rather than ‘sold’ — leaves us concerned about the future of interactive entertainment, generally.”