Supporters of anti-circumvention legislation often dismiss consumer concerns by arguing that "if you don't like DRM, don't buy the product." In other words, no one is forcing anyone to buy products with DRM. Leaving aside the fact that this may not be true – students may increasingly find that they are required to buy electronic texts for their courses that come in DRM-only packages – consumers often don't know that they are buying products with technological restrictions. Most consumers know little if anything about DRMs and the limitations that may be placed on consumer entertainment products such as CDs, DVDs, video games, or digital download services. While there may some limited disclosures – DVDs indicate the region code, if your eyesight is good enough you might notice that some copy-controlled CDs warn on the back corner that they may not play on all computers, and digital download services all feature lengthy user agreements that few consumers will ever read – they are plainly insufficient and the government should not support the legal fiction that "informed" consumers are knowingly purchasing products that contain a host of limitations.
For many consumers, these DRM products are simply not fit for purpose – they often won't play on your DVD player, on your iPod, or permit usage that most would expect is permissible. Moreover, consumers frequently can't obtain a refund for their purchases as many retailers won't accept returns on opened CDs and DVDs and digital download services do not offer refunds to disgruntled downloaders.
The federal government might argue that this is provincial problem, since consumer protection issues typically fall under provincial jurisdiction. The reality, however, is that the federal government can and should play its part to address the issue given the manner it which it is supporting the use of DRM through Bill C-61. It should consider establishing DRM labeling requirements (an approach also advocated by the Society for Law and Computers in the UK) so that consumers will be able to quickly identify capabilities, compatibilities, and limitations. The Competition Bureau is currently responsible for two labelling statutes – the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act. If labelling is required for upholstered furniture, surely it can be added for consumer entertainment products.