'Tis a joyous time on GBATemp, with our team welcoming new blood, and with the community wanting to hit the big dance on a raffle. What better way to celebrate than with a written work from one of your reporters? Today's topic of discussion is about digital rights management. I am going to cover what this concept is, and what occasions where DRM is encouraged and discouraged, and asking for user input at the end. What is Digital Rights Management? To put it simply, DRM is technology that attempts to control what you can and cannot do with the stuff you have purchased. The term came about with the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or as we affectionately call it, the DMCA. Ever look for some anime to watch on Google? Scroll down, the DMCA has restricted access to some of the search results! We as gamers like to call it copyright protection. With the movement to cloud gaming, while it offers other opportunities to enjoy media, at the same time it could be argued that the methods of accessing said media are often given other restrictions. Examples of DRM We can look at Diablo III. The franchise has always been a single player game that can be played offline. With the release of Diablo III, however, the franchise went in a different direction and made the user constantly stay online. As a result, the flood of users at launch attempting to get online resulted in the infamous Error 37, which was an error that resulted from many players trying to access the game at once. A single player game that requires constant online interaction just did not bode well for this title. There is also the Steam gaming platform, where people tend to look at as being an example of DRM being done well. The system enforces an always online infrastructure but in the process does cloud updating, consolidating all available systems in one location, and modding for games in one easy to build area. Most call this an idea of DRM being done well enough so it benefits the customer. Look at the massive successes of the Humble Indie Bundle. Another example? Look at SimCity that EA recently published, with DRM prevalent in forcing the player to be constantly online. Both the media and consumer base lashed out at EA Games, demanding their head and the removal of the always-online requirement. EA ended up acquiescing. It still did not stop the initial splurge of negative feedback that hit Amazon so hard the game had to be removed from the store temporarily. A fourth example could be the old days of anti-piracy on Nintendo DS titles, mechanisms that prevent player advancement if a pirated copy is detected. I could go into many more examples but that would probably bore you to death and I am not here to do that (though some of you may disagree). Arguing About DRM Arguing Against DRM Looking at DRM, we as consumers are usually against such an idea. We see DRM as a hindrance. We purchase the media, we should theoretically "own it," correct? In this day and age, "owning" something is an incorrect term and instead, we are paying for the right to "access" a piece of media, or renting it. When one buys music on the iTunes store, they don't own the music. It is not a possession that you can bequeath on others after you die. Look at Bruce Willis, there were rumors he wanted to fight Apple in court over the rights to bequeath his music collection to his children once he passed away. Please don't die anytime soon, Mr. Willis. According to an article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lot of times the legitimate consumer does not know that they have bought a license. I quote their piece with: That is something that worries me. When I purchase something, I should be able to say that it is mine, technically. The thing is, people are paying to access it, and don't really want to resort to only using it. They want to explore the media in different contexts. With rights and management, though, it is shoehorning itself into hardware now, with companies restricting the user's ability to "tinker" or modify the item. Doing so will void a warranty. The EFF piece I linked above declared that the end result shows the user is crippled. We as consumers are consumed by fear and instead of donating these items for reuse, we let them dust and die, at the same time shutting out repair facilities and third-party service centers. With DRM, there is just no suitable reason as a consumer to endorse it. There are some cases where people are actually supportive of digital rights management, though. At this point, is what I have said fair? Are my claims valid? Do we as consumers need to support the idea of DRM? Arguments Supporting DRM People that tend to support DRM are the developers. I see where they are arguing from; they spend their lives dedicating themselves to a piece of media, often creating whole worlds and stories that are incredibly immersive; and often times getting hit by entitled gamers crying that the game was not the way they wanted it. I'm not going to go into that idea again, don't worry. I'll leave this here if you are interested. I know a few indie developers in real life who make a game that has moderate success, but then they lose out on the profits gained as people start downloading the .APK files that appear on the internet. I see the viewpoint on why they support DRM; they want to see their hard work go to fruition, and we as consumers cannot deny that possibility. It's a definite gray area again. On one hand I completely abhor DRM, but on the other hand, I have to accept that for some people, DRM is completely necessary. I opened a discussion on the True Gaming subreddit, and asked the community to find instances where DRM might actually be beneficial, or encouraged, and a lot of people brought up the Steam gaming platform as a very solid model that DRM could be based around; management, ease of access, and cloud updating all in one packaged interface. That is what the subreddit community was interested in arguing; I myself cannot verify the validity of these claims quite yet and will conduct a bit more research into the matter. When I was going through the comments, it seemed split down the middle. Other comments involved saying that DRM could be justifiable in the instance that the developer wishes to see it happen. It is their product, and they should be able to see fit. Ryu, Where Do You Stand? That is a good question. I like writing articles where the issue is not clearly black or white, but a a shade or fifty of gray. DRM is a love-hate relationship. On one hand, I see DRM as a model that needs to be abolished for a lot of different things, like hardware tinkering, forcing players to play online constantly, restricting access to certain portions of the media. All DRM does is hinder those who want to access the content, pirate or not. We all know how easy it is to find a crack or a bypass somewhere; there are many locations where copies of games are uploaded with the necessary crack to play it without paying a dime, while still being able to utilize the full features of the media. But, on the other hand, I have to acquiesce and acknowledge that DRM is justifiable mainly because it is the developer's byproduct. They put their own hard time into it, and they deserve the fruits of their labor, which comes in the form of venomous gaming communities and excess complaints. As a consumer, what right do I have to ask to ask them to change their ways with their software? Do I have that right as a consumer? Do you? What about in mass protest? And You, Where Do You Stand? Just tuning in? You missed out. But I do not blame you, this was a long piece. I'll sum it briefly. I argued that DRM is both justifiable (from a dev standpoint) yet reprehensible (in the consumer standpoint). Can you merge the two together and create instances where DRM would benefit the consumer and the developer simultaneously? How do you feel about DRM as a whole? Do you agree with my claims? Do you disagree with my claims? Do you have more information that could be added? Shoot me your feedback below! Keep it clean though! And hmm... food for future thought. I'm thinking of discussing censorship next! Stay tuned to the portal for that!