blarg?

Digital Privileges

Mike Kozlowski calls it. From the EFF:

Microsoft’s Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or “rented” from Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, or any other online media service. That’s right – the media that Microsoft promised would Play For Sure doesn’t even play on Microsoft’s own device.

It’s long been known that you’re just a regular consumer DRM means you don’t really control your own computer. Turns out if you’re a large corporation, licensing DRM means you don’t really control your product line.

5 Comments | Skip to comment form

  1. Mike Kozlowski

    See, my thing is that I’m not 100% against DRM — largely because I really love rental services (Netflix, Yahoo Music if it weren’t for all the damn parts where it didn’t work and their customer service sucked, libraries) as a customer, and it’s impossible to have rental services in a purely digital world without DRM.

    But what I do really want is DRM that doesn’t restrict my capabilities more than it has to. Making it so I can’t copy a file around? Okay, not awesome, but I can live with it. Making it so I can’t make any device except one special one work with your service? Um, no.

    Also, you may have seen the news yesterday that Rhapsody is now making their own DRM, and partnering with Samsung to make a special device that works with Rhapsody’s special DRM. And to think that it used to look like we were past the “millions of incompatible homegrown DRM implementations” phase…

  2. Mike Hoye

    The thing is, to make DRM really-work-liek-for-real-woah, you need either customers who agree to play along, or hardware that’s cryptographically secured from the network jack all the way to the speakers. The attempt to encourage people to do that, so far, consists of downgrading the signal on noncompliant hardware and screwing early-adopters thereby. And with the ongoing walled-garden-festival, it looks like that’s what the future is bringing us: either you get all your gear from one manufacturer and it might work right, or you don’t and it never will.

    Everybody wants to be Sony, in short.

  3. Mike Kozlowski

    There are always teething problems as standards get established. (Aside about HDCP: This has been somewhat overplayed. As early as 2003, most TVs were HDCP-compliant. My guess is that most people who bought HDTVs in 2002 or earlier will probably end up replacing them anyway, before studios start enabling ICT on HD-DVD/Blu-Ray discs. Early adopters don’t keep CRT rear projectors around for decades.) But HDCP is actually a good example of DRM that needn’t necessarily be highly bothersome. Yes, you can only hook HDCP-compliant devices together, but everything from Nvidia graphic cards to Toshiba DVD players to Samsung TVs support HDCP.

    So, yeah, you lose access to a raw, unencrypted bitstream. But if all the devices you cared to use can decrypt that bitstream, it’s not that big a deal. There’s no lock-in of any sort, and as long as you’re using modern devices, there’s nothing preventing you from doing anything you’d legally want to do with your content. It’s hard to get up in arms about HDCP unless you’re personally getting screwed here in the teething phase of things.

    Even AACS isn’t that bad. Unlike HDCP, it actually does limit your non-infringing use (the future quite obviously does not involve shuttling plastic discs around, but streaming video from a server; and AACS’ Managed Copy functionality may or may not be robust enough for what you want to do, but at any rate is not supported yet by any computer), but it’s still open enough that basically anyone making legitimate hardware or software can get an AACS license. Still no vendor lock-in or hyper-proprietariness.

  4. Mike Kozlowski

    There are always teething problems as standards get established. (Aside about HDCP: This has been somewhat overplayed. As early as 2003, most TVs were HDCP-compliant. My guess is that most people who bought HDTVs in 2002 or earlier will probably end up replacing them anyway, before studios start enabling ICT on HD-DVD/Blu-Ray discs. Early adopters don’t keep CRT rear projectors around for decades.) But HDCP is actually a good example of DRM that needn’t necessarily be highly bothersome. Yes, you can only hook HDCP-compliant devices together, but everything from Nvidia graphic cards to Toshiba DVD players to Samsung TVs support HDCP.

    So, yeah, you lose access to a raw, unencrypted bitstream. But if all the devices you cared to use can decrypt that bitstream, it’s not that big a deal. There’s no lock-in of any sort, and as long as you’re using modern devices, there’s nothing preventing you from doing anything you’d legally want to do with your content. It’s hard to get up in arms about HDCP unless you’re personally getting screwed here in the teething phase of things.

    Even AACS isn’t that bad. Unlike HDCP, it actually does limit your non-infringing use (the future quite obviously does not involve shuttling plastic discs around, but streaming video from a server; and AACS’ Managed Copy functionality may or may not be robust enough for what you want to do, but at any rate is not supported yet by any computer), but it’s still open enough that basically anyone making legitimate hardware or software can get an AACS license. Still no vendor lock-in or hyper-proprietariness.

  5. Anonymous

    HDTVs may be getting a lot of HDCP, but there is a huge problem with PCs, since currently very few to none of even the large high-end, high-res monitors support HDCP, and HDCP support over graphics cards is iffy at best. A lot of the current crop of 20 and 24 inch widescreen monitors is still going to be in use in 2010, and they’re going to be used to play HD-DVD disks over — except they can’t. I think we can take it as a given that there will be even more convergence by then — MCE 2005 is already a fairly succesful product, and Vista MCE boxes will almost certainly sell even better, so this is a real problem.