"Baked-in" DRM - Yet another reason for people to hate Microsoft

"Baked-in" DRM - Yet another reason for people to hate Microsoft

Summary: Newsflash – There’s a growing segment of computer users that hate Microsoft. “Baked-in” DRM is giving more users a reason to hate Microsoft.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Newsflash – There’s a growing segment of computer users that hate Microsoft. “Baked-in” DRM is giving more users a reason to hate Microsoft.

Over the weekend I spent some time catching up on the great Gutmann Vista DRM debate (in the red corner we have Peter Gutmann, while in the blue corner we have George Ou and Ed Bott – if you want the background to this story follow these links, but not before you’ve put a If you’re firmly opposed to DRM then paying Microsoft to add it to your software is a bit like an animal lover finding out that they’ve paid to have a baby seal clubbed on their behalfpot of coffee on, drunk it and then brewed a second one). One thing that’s become clear to me from the comments left by readers in the TalkBack section of these posts is that there’s a growing dislike of DRM, in particular DRM that’s embedded into operating systems, especially DRM built into Windows (it appears that Apple users are harder to work up into a frenzy about DRM).

Think what you want of HDCP DRM and ICT flags, this technology is here and it’s here to stay (for the time being at any rate). The issue doesn’t seem to be that the technology exists (people who feel strongly opposed to it can choose to avoid it); the issue is that Microsoft has embedded this technology into Windows Vista, thus seemingly giving it the stamp of approval. Not only that, but when people look at the bottom line price that they are expected to pay for Vista, they begin to wonder how much of that cost comes down to support for DRM in one form or another. If you’re firmly opposed to DRM then paying Microsoft to add it to your software is a bit like an animal lover finding out that they’ve paid to have a baby seal clubbed on their behalf.

I’m no fan of DRM (I buy DVDs and audio books from Audible.com but beyond that I try to limit my exposure to DRM thanks to being bitten in the butt by it a few times in the past), but I also recognize that it offers content providers both with new revenues streams and improved ways to enforce copyright. DRM also allows companies to “rent” digital content, thus making access t the content cheaper. My issue with DRM isn’t that it’s used, it’s that content providers don’t make DRM limitations clear to customers. But those are my views, and these views don’t apply to others. For some, buying and using an operating system that incorporates DRM is something that they don’t want to do. The bundling of DRM with Windows is seen as Microsoft giving content providers, MPAA, RIAA, the government, the man (delete as appropriate) far too much power and is paving the way for heavily DRMed content to become the norm.

Personally, I think that Microsoft needs to be careful because it is increasingly being seen as a pro-DRM company. While it’s safe to say that for many DRM is a non-issue (most don’t see it, and of those that do, many don’t care about it), for a growing segment of users (especially power users), DRM is being seen as a way for big business to have increasing control over how PCs are being used. People who want to avoid this level of control are shunning Windows for open source platforms.

So why has Microsoft embedded DRM such as HDCP into Windows and not offered it as a separate download or plug-in? The plain and simple truth is that this kind of DRM is too complex to be supported through a separate download. The days of copyright enforcement being just a few words flashed up at the beginning of a movie are numbered, copyright enforcement mechanisms are not only being embedded into the content, but deeply into the hardware and software that make up new PCs. About the only way you can avoid exposure to it is to stick with old hardware and software. Open source only means that your software can be free of the stuff.

Thoughts?

Topic: Microsoft

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118 comments
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  • M$-DRM did not drive me off windows ...

    ... it was the enforced upgrades where every few years I had to re-buy the software I had already purchased and which worked OK, but the inclusion of DRM as a core component merely confirms to me that I made the right move in getting off the MS platform.

    As for DRM in movies or CDs - I simply do not buy those discs nor will I.

    Another point that nobody raised is the totally unjustified length of copyright. It should be scaled right back to 20 years (in line with patents). Let's take an example - Peter Jackson's "King Kong". They went 100% over budget and spent $200m on it making it the most expensive movie ever made. At the cimema it took $550m and another $100m in DVD sales. So that is a profit of $450m or 225% of the cost of production. A good return, methinks!

    Now, I'm not saying that Jackson should never earn another penny from his movie but by no stretch of the imagination can anyone say that he hasn't been well compensated for what he did.

    This brings me to my point (at last!!!)

    The real problem with DRM etc is that its purpose seems to be to inflate profits from "enormously vast" to "staggeringly unbelievable" and that is what so many people find objectionable. These companies aren't hurting - not by a long way - so when I feel their DRM hand sliding into my wallet it does not generate any feelings other than resentment and digust.
    bportlock
    • At least you're blaming the right people.

      DRM doesn't exist because of Microsoft. The company is giving the content proviiders what they want, and receiving money in return, directly and indirectly.

      The author of the Comment alludes to this when he observes that Microsoft is in danger of beoming known as a DRM-favoring company.

      In danger? In the anti-trust case, Microsoft responded to some contentions by citing protection of IP rights. The Appeals Court's decision rejecting those arguments had an amused tone.

      Though Bill gates can see IP's threat to his company, he can also see IP's value. Microsoft does advocate IP rights. The distinction is, it's unlikely Microsoft would have worked so elaborately on DRM for $0.

      Also worth noting, if the electronics and software industries had not been responsive to the content providers, they would have used their power in Congress to have laws passed to assure DRM at their discretion. Congres believes the industry is suffering from ineffective DRM.
      Anton Philidor
      • Please

        "DRM doesn't exist because of Microsoft"

        MS has been extremely enthusiastic of DRM technology. All the MS technical
        seminars I've been to for at least 5 years have promoted DRM, usually from a
        business security perspective.

        This is the reason it is embedded in Vista, not because "others" have demanded it.
        It is a core strategy of MS and has been for the entire Vista development cycle.

        Those of us with a poor view of MS (based on past and continuing abuse) see this
        simply as an extension of their monopoly practices given the increasing threat of
        open APIs.

        Blaming DRM in Vista ignores the Steve and Bill shows for the past decade.
        Richard Flude
        • Things that make me go "Hmmm"

          With Vista having DRM built in, and apparently closely tied to disks, what happens to Microsoft when (and it will be) their DRM is broken. How do they recode Vista to "fix" it, and not break the DRM on the (presumably) large number of (primarily) dvd's that want the older broken version of the DRM?

          It's late, I'm tired, I could be deluded on this thing. I guess I'll find out :P
          zkiwi
          • Because of Congressional interest, ...

            ... I think, there will be DRM in the hardware as well as the software. Breaking DRM will happen, of course, but it will be more difficult than usual, and Microsoft won't be the only company required to respond.

            If we're lucky, only the game of making and breaking DRM will continue. If we're not lucky, Congress will attempt to "fix" the situation with inconvenient legislation of some sort.

            Congress is the most significant problem in this situation.
            Anton Philidor
          • Congressional Interest.... because of.....

            Microsoft lobbying:

            April 30, 2007
            More on Microsoft's lobbying tactics

            http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2007/04/more_on_microso.html

            Microsoft's lobbying budget 'outstripped
            Enron's'

            http://news.zdnet.co.uk/itmanagement/0,1000000308,2103784,00.htm

            Microsoft lobbying for OpenXML!?!

            http://ironwil.net/blog/2007/08/15/microsoft-lobbying-for-openxml/

            Could post enough examples to be boring. Let
            he who seeks the truth Google it himself.
            Ole Man
        • Enthusiastic, yes.

          And you're right that with its relevance to document protection, it is a part of the company's strategy.

          But would Microsoft have been able to influence the electronics industry, including computer makers, if the content companies had not been using the (false) claims of damage from privacy to obtain the participation of the US government?

          Microsoft's policy is the opposite of rejecting this nonsense. But the company did not have the influence to create the current situation, and could not have purchased the cooperation of all the players in this game.

          And the company makes money, directly and indirectly, from the manipulations of the content companies. A win-win-win, commercially.
          Anton Philidor
  • These people simply look for a reason

    to justify their hatred of Microsoft. DRM means nothing, because if it wasn't there, they would drum up another reason to hate, be it real or imagined.

    They use of DRM is up to the content providers. They decide what is DRM'd and what is not. If you don't like like it, don't blame the locksmith( MS in this case ), blame the person who bought it and put it on your purchase
    mdemuth
    • I have lots of reasons to dislike MS

      The findings of fact in US et al vs MS (the antitrust case) is a good summary. MS' active promotion of DRM simply makes the list longer.
      John L. Ries
      • They are not promoting DRM.

        They are enabling it to be played in their OS. Big difference.
        ShadeTree
        • I do seem to recall...

          ...something called the "Trusted Computing Initiative", loudly trumpeted by MS several years back. This was really the first I had heard about a serious DRM effort.

          John Carroll has also discussed competition between MS and Apple implementations of DRM at length.

          Don't ask for links. I have work to do.
          John L. Ries
          • I also remember Linus saying....

            ... that DRM might have a place in the Linux Kernel. Does that make him a champion of DRM?
            ShadeTree
          • That's different than promoting it...

            ...as you well know. "Trusted Computing" was billed as a major MS initiative (the idea being to create a "trusted" platform for copyrighted software and content). I call that promotion. It's only been since the beginning of this year that MS and its loyal defenders have claimed that the MPAA and RIAA made them put DRM support into Vista (maybe they threatened a hostile takeover).

            Linus was simply unwilling to accept a GPL that banned DRM.
            John L. Ries
        • They have been promoting DRM for years

          The first kernel DRM modules in Windows were included in Windows Media Player 9.
          They have a system they call DRI that will prevent you from even running such benign
          programs as "Windowblinds" while viewing "restricted" data. They have used technical
          measures to prevent you from simply cloning a Windows system disk since they
          released NT, and all that's done is make money for products like Ghost.

          HDCP is simply the *latest* example of Microsoft's pervasive DRM model, one that has
          been growing into the core of Windows since the '90s.
          Resuna
    • Re

      People don't look for a reason. It is rather obvious. The truth is some people like you will justify whatever MS will do because it is MS. If the same actions are undertaken by someone else you will be th first to scream. Go here and start your education, although I suspect you already knew all this
      http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/Dirty_Tricks_history
      goxk@...
  • DRM and why Apple users are more mellow about it

    Apple users seem to be more mellow about DRM for a simple reason. If DRM is outside your normal usage, it is not perceived as DRM.

    Here's an interesting philosophical question: If there is a wall completely surrounding you 20 miles away on every side, but you will never travel more than 10 miles in your entire life, are you imprisoned?
    frgough
    • Philosophical answer

      [i]"Here's an interesting philosophical question: If there is a wall completely surrounding you 20 miles away on every side, but you will never travel more than 10 miles in your entire life, are you imprisoned?"[/i]

      Yes.

      The wall takes away the possibility that I might decide to travel 30 miles a week next Tuesday. It limits my freedom. Even if I never see the wall, I object to its presence.

      The same goes for DRM.
      bportlock
      • Ignoring the premise

        You will never choose to travel more than 10 miles. You ignored the premise of the question.

        You don't even know the wall is there because you never encounter it.
        frgough
      • You forget the power of the RDF

        RDF prevents Apple zealots from seeing the wall. They travel 20 miles, hit their nose on something, Jobs tells them it is all M$'s fault, and they start frothing at the mouth. Just look at frgough's response. ;)
        NonZealot
      • Well I guess you are a prisoner and dont even know it...

        because you cant leave this solar system.
        mrOSX