Gates rails against Blu-ray DRM (but Microsoft's is OK?)

Summary:According to an interview of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates by the Daily Princetonian, Gates thinks that the Blu-ray DVD format (recently backed by Warner Bros.)  is "anti-consumer.

According to an interview of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates by the Daily Princetonian, Gates thinks that the Blu-ray DVD format (recently backed by Warner Bros.)  is "anti-consumer."  Microsoft, Intel, and other companies are backing an alternative to Blu-ray known as HD DVD.  Said Gates in the interview:

...the key issue here is that the protection scheme under Blu-ray is very anti-consumer and there's not much visibility of that. The inconvenience is that the [movie] studios got too much protection at the expense consumers and it won't work well on PCs. You won't be able to play movies and do software in a flexible way.... It's not the physical format that we have the issue with, it's that the protection scheme on Blu is very anti-consumer. If [the Blu-ray group] would fix that one thing, you know, that'd be fine.

So, let me get this right.  Bill Gates is complaining about someone else's Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology because it won't work well on PCs.  Meanwhile, as I have written many times already in my series of say no to DRM blog entries, Microsoft has its own DRM technology that doesn't work well on ordinary hi-fi gear. Microsoft calls this "PlaysForSure."  But, as long as PlaysForSure-packaged content doesn't play for sure on every device that can play digital content, it should probably be called "PlaysForSuren't."   Anyway, is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black, or what?

[Update: Just as reminder, my belief is that everyone should stop using or deploying DRM technologies and take a deep breath to rethink the damage being done by the current, heavily bifurcated approach being taken across various entertainment and content sectors.  Already a certain amount of irreversible damage has been done. For example, if you're buying songs from Apples iTunes Music Store or a Microsoft PlaysForSure-compliant music store, there's a strong probability that the music you're buying won't work on your next cell phone (or maybe you're current one: see Orange takes on the iPod again).  Many of tomorrow's cell phones (and some of today's) will be able to play digital music. At the very least, both the computer and entertainment industries should settle on a set of open DRM standards that are freely and easily deployable by any equipment manufacturer.]

Topics: Microsoft


David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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