| Wednesday July 30th 2014

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DRM should be disclosed on video game boxes


Ars Technica has a report from the FTC’s hearings on DRM, where Hal Halpin from the Entertainment Consumers Association proposed that game manufacturers should be required to disclose what kind of DRM they’re using prior to purchase (“WARNING: World of Warcraft contains spyware called Warden to stop you from cheating — it checks files and registry settings here and here, hides itself from the process manager, etc”) and to stick to a set of standard EULA terms that everyday people can understand.

That’s why DRM information needs to be front and center. “Disclosure is of paramount importance. People need to know what it is they’re buying! We were joking before about information on food [Editors note: we referred to the proposed labels on gaming as "nutritional information" in a previous discussion] World of Warcraft logobut some DRM is so invasive that you’re buying a product and you need to know what’s inside it, what impact it’s going to have and how it may or may not be limiting the rights you believe you have, because there’s now way to return it. That’s the basis on which the FTC and your readers agree: disclosure, first and foremost.”This is important issue, and I asked Halpin if there are any other goods you can buy, not knowing what the product may do to other goods (your computer) when you use it, and that you can’t return. “Not that I can think of. Anything else, if it’s defective you can return it.” That doesn’t work at most retailers, where the employees won’t take returns simply because of invasive DRM, if they even know what that term means.


“One of our primary goals, core to our mission, is education,” Halpin tells Ars, and he strongly believes that if the FTC and the ECA is able to get this information onto game boxes, along with easy-to-understand, standardized licensing agreements, he can get the necessary information into the hands of consumers so that they can make better buying decisions and know their rights.

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