Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DRM and EULAs for PC Games

Great read over at Ars Technica about the Entertainment Consumers Association pushing for the requirement of full disclosure of DRM on PC game boxes, as well as the standardization of EULA agreements. Hal Halpin of the ECA told Ars Technica:

We suggested a few things to the FTC, one of which was we'd like to see DRM disclosed. So when people go to the store and buy the packaged good, the PC game, they'll see something on the front of the box saying there is DRM inside, and to what degree it will be invasive.

The second thing that we recommended was that EULAs get standardized, so again, rather than have 30 or 40 types of agreements, there would be one standard one for all different types of computer games. People go into the store, buy the game, open it, and they can no longer return it... by standardizing the EULA, consumers will have the confidence to know what it is they're agreeing to before they buy the product.

That didn't go over so well. There was a room of attorneys that kind of gasped when we suggested standardization. One panelist commented that the EULA really were there as consumer information, and that was the one and only time that the FTC jumped in and said "wait a second, this has nothing to do with consumer information, this is purely IP protection." I pointed out that when we ran the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) we were able to get the size of the boxes standardized, and to get the PC CD-ROM logo on the box. These were not herculean undertakings, and they didn't require legislation. So if we can do those things, then certainly we can do these.
This can only be good for consumers, and I'm particularly pleased to see the ECA raising the conflicts that digital distribution channels like Steam have with the concept of ownership.

1 comment:

Brett Schenker said...

Not that I want to astroturf and spam this all over, but the ECA today launched a call to action about DRM and EULAs. Over the past year we have witnessed a growing concern among gamers about the issues of increasingly invasive Digital Rights Management (DRM) and End User Licensing Agreements (EULAs). The FTC is holding hearings on the issue of DRM and EULAs.

Read the ECA's statement, sign the petition and comment about how consumer rights are being diminished, http://action.theeca.com/t/2858/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=562.


Brett Schenker, Online Advocacy Manager
Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA)