Microsoft demonstrates why DRM is a Bad Idea ™

From Techdirt:

Playsforsure was so bad that Microsoft didn’t even use it for its own Zune digital media device. Along with that, Microsoft shut down its failed online music store, and now for the kicker, it’s telling anyone who was suckered into buying that DRM’d content that it’s about to nuke the DRM approval servers that let you transfer the music to new machines. That means you need to authorize any songs you have on whatever machine you want — and that’s the only place they’ll be able to reside forever. And, of course, any upgrade to your operating system (say from XP to Vista) and you lose access to your music as well.

So now you find out that with DRM you don’t really own the music you bought, it can get taken away from you very easily, but you won’t get your money back I bet!

Ross Anderson’s “Security Engineering”

Back in 2006 Ross Anderson (Professor of Security Engineering at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory) announced on his blog that he had published the full contents of the first edition of his book “Security Engineering” in PDF format. The book covers a whole range of security issues from creating, managing, accrediting & breaking the mechanisms themselves through security politics and into topics like DRM.

Now the second edition of Security Engineering is about to arrive (published April 14th in the US, Amazon say stock expected in 1-4 weeks) and mine is on order already (along with a copy of Linus Torvalds Just for Fun).. :-)

Windows DRM breaks – declares all XP & Vista installs pirated

Yet another reason to not bother with Windows or other DRM crippled software, Microsofts Genuine disAdvantage servers all crashed..

The result? Every single Windows XP and Vista installation — except possibly those with volume license keys — is being marked as counterfeit when it tries to check in. Installations which are flagged as counterfeit switch to a “reduced functionality mode” which results in features like Aero and DirectX being disabled.

Talk about Defective by Design..

EMI+Apple to sell “premium” tracks without DRM

A very interesting development courtesy of the BBC:

EMI said every song in its catalogue will be available in the “premium” format. It said the tracks without locks will cost more and be of higher quality than those it offers now.

These DRM free tracks will cost 99 pence on iTunes, but apparently that’s only for single tracks, you will be able to buy an entire album DRM free for the same cost as one with DRM. Steve Jobs said:

The right thing to do is to tear down walls that precluded interoperability by going DRM-free and that starts here today.

Vista DRM Bites CD Audiophiles

It would appear that Vista’s DRM protection is for more than just “premium content” – even DRM protected “CD’s” apparently won’t play through S/PDIF (optical) outputs whereas they work just fine under Linux.

My test system’s high-end audio outputs are S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) compliant. S/PDIF is probably the most common high-end audio port around for PCs today. It also has no built-in DRM (digital rights management) capability, and that turned out to be an important matter. [...] When I switched back to Vista, I tried to play Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot CD. Whoops! Not a single sound emerged from my speakers. After a little investigation, I found that Vista disables media outputs that don’t incorporate DRM, when you try to play DRM protected media through them.

Quite sad really given that Vista couldn’t handle his on board RealTek ALC 882 audio chipset either!

That was a kick in the head. I have a fully legal CD in my hand. Any other version of Windows will play it, Linux will play it, Mac OS will play it, and my CD player will play it, but if you’re using S/PDIF for your computer-driven audio and Vista, you’re out of luck. If you have a card with a Toslink optical digital audio port, you will be able to play it.

Vista’s DRM really is Defective by Design.

BBC Asking Should New Service Be Microsoft Only ?

The BBC Trust is currently carrying out a consultation exercise into their new “On Demand” TV services over the Internet in which they ask “How important is it that the proposed seven-day catchup service be available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software ?” (see question 5).

The accompanying PDF says:

In respect of the seven-day catch-up over the internet service, the files would require DRM to ensure that they were appropriately restricted in terms of time and geographic consumption. The only system that currently provides this security is Windows Media 10 and above. Further, the only comprehensively deployed operating system that currently supports Windows Media Player 10 and above is the Windows XP operating system. As a result of these DRM requirements the proposed BBC iPlayer download manager element therefore requires Windows Media Player 10 and Windows XP. This means the service would be unavailable to a minority of consumers who either do not use Microsoft or do not have an up-to-date Microsoft operating system. However, over time, technology improvements are likely to enable even more efficient methods of delivery. Further, it is our understanding the BBC Executive are working towards the iPlayer download manager being able to function on other operating systems.

and go on to say:

We also note that the Microsoft-based strategy for rights management will limit usage. Normally, we would expect BBC services to be universally available, as universal access to BBC services is in the public interest. However, as set out above, other mainstream technology platforms do not currently provide the appropriate security.

So the BBC Trust do want greater usage, but don’t seem to understand that DRM will stop that even if people do have access to Windows.

People may want to make their feelings known on this..

(Via Alec)