While Digital Rights Management (DRM) is being touted as a means of allowing protection for copyrighted works, it “has also been abused to severely harm the interests of consumers and competition,” Public Knowledge Staff Attorney Rashmi Rangnath told a Federal Trade Commission conference in Seattle Wed. She recommended that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) be amended to permit DRM circumvention when that circumvention “is done to engage in lawful uses.”
Rangnath said DRM harms consumers because it causes electronic devices not to work properly with each other and because of the way it hinders “consumers to use devices in the lawful ways they have become accustomed to and expect when buying products.” The full text of her prepared remarks is here.
On the first point, Rangnath noted that content protection schemes mean that a high-definition television set used with a blu-ray or HD-DVD player will have a much lower resolution picture than the TV set could otherwise produce. DRM can also “lock in” market leader products by keeping competitors out, and the FTC should investigate that practice, Rangnath said.
On the second point, Rangnath said that “while the Supreme Court has recognized time shifting as a fair use, consumers using DRM-equipped media, are unable to legally make these fair uses if they require circumventing DRM.”
She added that DRM “prevents teachers from making compilations of clips from DVDs thereby preventing valuable educational use,” and “prevents persons with disabilities from gaining access to content they have lawfully purchased.”
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