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The Day The Music Died: Windows Media and DRM 699

Posted by michael
from the coming-soon-to-a-computer-near-you dept.
SampleMinded writes "The Guardian reports on an early glimpse of what a DRM controlled future looks like. Imagine backing up your files, reformatting your hard drive, then copying the files back over only to find your music no longer works. It happened to this guy. Now That's what I call Xperience!"
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The Day The Music Died: Windows Media and DRM

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  • by nucal (561664) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:22AM (#4076593)
    have been collecting music using Windows Media Player to copy from CDs.

    That was the first mistake...
  • by LISNews (150412) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:25AM (#4076613) Homepage
    From the article: "There is still a way to get these licenses back and it is pretty easy using our Personal License Migration Service (PLMS), [which] was designed to address the exact situation you outline. The customer just has to be connected to the internet, then they can automatically restore their licenses just by playing the music files in question."

    Of course it may not really be that easy, and it still is a pain, but that doesn't seem like that big of a deal, IF what they say is true in this case. Yes, this is a pain, but it could've been worse. If that's the future, it doesn't look as bad as I thought it did.

  • RTFM! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seanmeister (156224) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:26AM (#4076625) Homepage
    So the user in question didn't follow the procedure for either turning off the DRM protection or backing up his licenses. I'm no fan of DRM, but RTFM still applies in a "DRM controlled future". Maybe even more so!
  • by jmu1 (183541) <jmullman AT gasou DOT edu> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:26AM (#4076629) Journal
    In the "article", it is made clear that Microsoft is watching what you are listening to. The advice given to the man for his situation was to connect to the Internet and the licenses for his music(which he already paid for... why does he need yet another license) will be updated.

    Updated? How did they get the original and how would they know that your files are the right files, etc... because they are watching what you are listening to. Time to read that EULA Mr. End User. Problem is, most bloody end users really don't care. I've talked to many a person and they really think it's ok. I guess that means that I _can_ put that hidden camera in their daughter's bathroom Boy, I certainly hope noone takes that one literally. ;)

  • by Dionysus (12737) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:29AM (#4076650) Homepage
    I wish MS would go even further, like automatically delete the music files after a set period, or when you reinstall Windows, Word will stop working, and you need to rent a new license etc.

    You know that line from Star Wars applies (paraphrasing): The more control they take over your system, the more users they will lose.
  • by grayhaired (314097) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:29AM (#4076654) Journal
    * If certain software becomes hostile to copy survivability, switch to more user friendly software.

    * If a file format becomes undesirable for some reason, switch formats. The shift from GIF to JPEG was accelerated when CI$ wanted royalties for GIFs. if MPEG becomes untenable, switch to a format WMA/Windoze, etc, wouldn't tell from any other binary.

    I think all people are proving is that they can muck up a file format or two. But there are a number of ways of encoding music after the fact. Just, you may need to convert your precious MPEGs to a more modern (and less policed) format.
  • Re:Oh No!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShavenYak (252902) <bsmith3@charter . n et> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:34AM (#4076692) Homepage
    DRM will happen. Deal with it, Michael. What other solution would you offer to deal with the rampant piracy and IP theft that escalates every single day?

    People shoplift from grocery stores every day also, but I don't have to get new licenses for my soup if I move it from one cabinet to another. Let the RIAA etc. do what grocery stores do and add the "losses" due to piracy onto everyone else's bill.

    Looking at the price vs. cost of production of CDs, it appears that they must already do this. Not to mention that they get a chunk of every blank CD Audio disc sold. Bingo, problem solved. Now quit with the DRM shit, you bastard record companies!

    Seriously, how can they expect consumers to put up with that much hassle to "protect" their multi-billion-dollar industry from the miniscule sales they really lose to piracy?
  • by Matey-O (518004) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:35AM (#4076698) Homepage Journal

    1. 'When you first run Windows Media Player, it will ask if you want to keep copy protection on, and you can turn it off if you wish.'


    2. 'We did anticipate this scenario and developed a tool to help them update their licenses: the Personal License Update Utility.'

    What's the big deal here?

    p.s. What's funny is, My Lyra requires a funky DRM'd MP3 format that only uses their propietary software to create it...those files won't work on anything else either. BUT, copy any kind fo WMA file directly to the CF card and it works fine.
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:35AM (#4076703) Homepage

    According to Microsoft's lead product manager of Windows Digital Media:

    There is still a way to get these licenses back and it is pretty easy using our Personal License Migration Service (PLMS), [which] was designed to address the exact situation you outline.

    It's morning and I'm still feeling pretty alert, but even the acronym PLMS is enough to make me think, "this is going to be a gigantic pain in the ass." Would it be possible to come up with a more intimidating bit of tech-speak for a product's name?

    More to the point, can you picture an inexperienced user having to track down the Personal License Migration Service utility and get it working? Just the name of it alone makes it sound like an afternoon's project.

    Looks like Windows users who want to maintain rights to their music libraries are going to have to regularly clear some rather intimidating hurdles every time they buy a new system or reformat their drive. I wonder how Apple will handle the same situation. Somehow, I can't picture Steve announcing iPLMS at an upcoming MacWorld ;)

  • by goldorak_dan (409400) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:35AM (#4076709)
    Why couldn't it have been off by default, to avoid problems like that.

    Then they could say: you can always turn it on.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:35AM (#4076710) Homepage
    You could just use a better ripping program such as CDex which can rip into cool formats like MP3 and ogg-vorbis.

  • by dancornell (95530) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:35AM (#4076713) Homepage
    Actually - he did bring up some new information which was that RealPlayer displays this functionality as well as Windows Media Player.
  • Re:Insanity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fanatic (86657) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:36AM (#4076721)
    people are eventually just going to quit buying music and stick to listening to what they already own. I have already started to do this

    By any chance, are you in your in your mid- to late- twenties? Many people stop getting into new music in that timeframe, and have been for 25-30 years.
  • Bring it on (Score:3, Insightful)

    by philipsblows (180703) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:37AM (#4076723) Homepage

    I've made similar comments like this before, but in this case it is worth repeating (well, I'll find out whether it is).

    The sooner the general public begins to experience the real issues behind DRM, DMCA, Palladium, UCITA (or whatever they're calling it this week), etc, the sooner the issue will rise to the importance of other issues that get real (ie political, financial) attention.

    It will probably be painful for a while, since the entire public won't realize the impact of this sort of thing at first, but give it time... the general public let their opinion be known about DivX and it didn't take long for CC to back down and toss that idea (or at least table it for a while).

    This too shall pass? I hope so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:38AM (#4076732)
    Exactly, without the gov't card none of this stuff is any threat whatsoever. Customers get pissed off by hassle, look for alternatives with less hassle, the drm crap goes away, banished by the market. That's why the Mickey Mouse club wants gov't mandates, to force something no one wants except the Mickey Mouse club.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:38AM (#4076737)

    The article sounds like Microsoft keeps a Database of all the music that you have ripped on your computer.

    This PLMS thingie then restores the licence fom the database. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's what it soundls like to me.

    If this reading is correct...

    Isn't anyone bothered bt Microsoft keeping a database of what you have done on your computer? Not in some imagined future, but today (and yesterday)

    Big Brother's name is Bill.
  • by marauder404 (553310) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:40AM (#4076750)
    That was the first mistake...
    Why? It's an easy to use program that the user had available to him. It worked as advertised. Just because he didn't RTFM, doesn't mean that it's the application's fault. If you want to criticize WMP for implementing DRM or using WMA for encoding, that's a different matter.
  • by gosand (234100) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:42AM (#4076764)
    Some people are saying "Don't use WMP", or "Yeah, but you can turn it off", or "RTFM!".

    While those things may apply to this case, DRM is a scary thing where it would be very easy to make it so it doesn't matter what app you use, DRM could be embedded in your processor (Palladium). They could make it so that you can't turn off DRM in the apps, or there is no manual to read, it will all just be built in so you don't have to "worry" about it.

    And since when did it become a REQUIREMENT to be connected to the internet to listen to music that you own?! Sure, internet access is more widespread than ever, but required? That's BS. That just means that Microsoft is watching and controlling what you are listening to. How long before it goes beyond that to cover every app on your system?

    I talk to some of my friends about this stuff, and they think it will never happen. They also don't know about the DMCA and the CDPDTA-E-I-E-I-O. This shit is real, and it is very scary. I have heard people say "Well, I don't care if they know what I do." Well dammit, I DO! It is none of their business, and that is the first step down a long, dark path. You want to tell them what you are doing, what web sites you are visiting, where you are shopping? Fine. Opt-in. But don't force that on everyone. Some people may actually want some of these dumbass services that Microsoft and other companies offer. Maybe they like targeted advertising. I don't, and I should not have to jump through hoops to NOT get it.

    Think it won't happen? Who is going to stop them?

  • by Featureless (599963) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:42AM (#4076767) Journal
    Think of it like a cage. It's meant to let us see what's inside, but not let what's inside get out. It can never effectively be used to get back what's escaped. And something only needs to escape from it once to be outside, fruitful and multiplying and all that, forever.

    It's an absurdly complicated cage, with hundreds of potential points of failure. Even if it's the best designed cage in the world, with encryption and booby-traps at every joint and hindge, someone in a good lab in Hong Kong is going to arrange a jailbreak anyway. And you know it's not going to be the best designed cage in the world. It's going to suck, maybe slightly less than CSS sucked.

    Once the content is out of it, that's it. You can't make a computer that refuses legacy data and applications (mp3s). That might be what Hollywood wants, but it's the only thing Microsoft can never do. At least not in the next 10-20 years - they'd have to work up to it very gradually. And even then, there are a million problems.

    The real purpose of DRM is to act as a shield against free software technologies interoperating with commercial products. MS has been considering fighting compatible free software with patents and bribes and EULA suits (and probably would, but for the awkwardness of doing it during their anti-trust trial), but by far its best weapon is to pretend to ally with the content people. They, after all, own Washington, and they were the geniuses that engineered the DMCA. The law that will make Samba, or the encrypted-WindowsDRM-filesystem module, or any number of other enabling technologies illegal... because it's trying to "bypass Microsoft's access control features."

    People will point out that the DMCA has provisions for allowing interoperability. That's right, it does. That's called a "bait exception." Sort of like the distributor price caps in the California electric utility deregulation, they're there for show; they can have no real effect. DeCSS, after all, is meant to allow free softare to interoperate with DVD's. But tell that to all the people in court all around the world right now. When deciding on whether there's a "significant non-infringing use," it turns out that it's quite easy to make a non-savvy judge (and how few of them are savvy?) believe the worst. DVDs are case in point.

    DRM will accomplish none of its stated goals. But it will be great for Microsoft. Paladium is a big deal to them because it will be the first Windows which can't be emulated by Wine, for instance, or interoperated with by other software, without risking the appearance that one is interoperating in order to open the cage. And if you mess with cages, you know we're not just talking about a civil trial and bankruptcy. We're talking about a good long stretch in federal prison.
  • Re:Oh No!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 (160512) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:42AM (#4076769)
    People shoplift from grocery stores every day also, but I don't have to get new licenses for my soup if I move it from one cabinet to another.

    Yes, but there are no "Soup-uters" out there that allow you to make unlimited, perfect copies of your can of soup and instantly deliver the soup to millions of people around the globe for free. If there were, you can bet Campbells would be very interested in controlling what you did with your can of soup.
  • by Milo Fungus (232863) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:44AM (#4076781)
    Here's a quote from yesterday's [] interview [] with Cary Sherman, President of the RIAA.

    "Of course record companies want to embrace the technology for greater profits. That's what they've done before, and that's what they want to do again. How to do it isn't so clear or easy, however...[Later]...record companies have been working very hard at getting music on the Internet legally. That happens to be difficult - because you need the permission of the songwriters and music publishers, and in many cases the artists as well, and those clearances aren't easy to get. (Everyone is nervous about piracy, and trying to figure out how much revenue they should earn, and what the business model is going to be, etc.) And then there are the technical infrastructures that have to be built to account for downloads and streams and pay royalties to rightsowners; the security for the content; and so on. It's a lot easier to do it illegally (just post it, don't worry about security, and don't pay anybody anything); doing it legally takes time...[Later]...The technology in this area keeps changing, and improving. You mention Enhanced CDs. As it happens, lots of consumers have had trouble with Enhanced CDs, because they may not play on all devices. So every time you mess with computer technology, there are unexpected effects."

    This WMP DRM business is a good example of what he was talking about. They have a difficult work to do if they want to embrace DRM and customers at the same time. Problems like this are unfortunate and (I believe) unacceptable, but are a natural consequence of what they're trying to do. I'd rather the music industry collapse from within, personally, but I'm not sure if that will happen.

  • Re:In all fairness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thesolo (131008) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:45AM (#4076792) Homepage
    it did sound like updateing the licenses for the "new" computer was pretty simple.

    Yes, it did sound pretty simple...for us! Now, imagine trying to explain to a non-technical person that they have to "Relicense" their own music because Windows thought they were a pirate. I can just imagine trying to explain to my mom over the phone why she can't play the Sinatra CD I ripped out to her PC anymore. (Fortunately, I won't ever have to deal with this scenario; my mom runs Linux ;)

    The fact is that DRM walks a VERY fine line between legitimate copy control & utter user frustration. If you go even slightly over the line, users will (eventually) rebel. Copy-protected CDs prove this point extremely well, as do proposed bills like the SSSCA (Sen. Holling's office has still not received one positive phone call from citizens over that bill).
  • Not yet. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lendrick (314723) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:50AM (#4076834) Homepage Journal
    The idea, of course, is to get people used to it, so when it does come time to shove it down people's throats, there won't be much resistance.

    I don't know about you, but I find that the phrase "Protect My Music" is a bit deceptive. Admittedly, "Make it so my music will only play on this computer" is a bit of a mouthful, but at least it's not misleading.

    If someone like my little sister (who is a fairly average computer user) sees that checkbox, they don't know what it means, but they generally leave it checked because it sounds positive. A power user (who has some experience with recent commercial software) may be more inclined to be a bit suspicious about the vague and somewhat ominous "Protect My Music." Sadly, most users are the average kind and not the power kind ... so what looks fair on the outside is actually pretty sneaky and deceptive.
  • by JWW (79176) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:51AM (#4076840)
    I think they were criticizing the DRM implementation.

    AND.. the program was easy to use until he reinstalled, then it was pure hell to use. It was a mistake because the program became unproductive working with the same files after just a reinstall.

    This thing gives me chills. He has to connect to the internet to restore his music? This really points to the disturbing trend (Palladium anyone?) that says you have to connect to the internet to even use your computer. Half of time I'm using my computer at home, I'm not connected to the internet (yes I still have dial up). As much as I would like always on broadband, I really pisses me off that companies are trying to implement technology to force me to check with them to see if its "OK" to do something.

    Damn right it was their first mistake, a damn big one at that. Technology like this should be shunned as if it has the plague.
  • by grub (11606) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:52AM (#4076847) Homepage Journal

    Actually, his first mistake was not disabling the 'Personal Protection' feature ...

    How long will it be before this option is no longer there. MS keeps chipping away at your freedom one bit (no pun) at a time.

    Consume, Marry and Reproduce, Obey.
  • by Knobby (71829) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:55AM (#4076873)

    I wonder how Apple will handle the same situation.

    My iPod has a little "Don't steal music" on its back. That simple suggestion and linking the iPod/iTunes synchronization to a single machine (not really much of a hurdle when you have Appletalk over TCP/IP and can mount a remote drive containing the music anyway) is all Apple has done. I don't see them doing a whole lot more. Their market is made up of a lot of people who create the content that MS is trying to control.

  • that's no excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:56AM (#4076884)
    "RTFM" is an outdated concept, applicable to well-defined, standardized, software used by specialists. A software company can't excuse poor usability or unexpected data loss by saying "RTFM".

    In this case, an unobvious (mis-)feature caused a user to lose hours of work. That's a software problem, and specifically, a problem with a particular software feature, DRM. It shows that DRM reduces usability in practice. The burden of proof that this isn't necessarily true is on proponents of DRM to find workarounds.

    Also note that this particular implementation of DRM is deliberately not secure; an implementation of the form that the music industry might like might simply not let the user recover their music when they reformat their drive no matter what they do. That is, after all, effectively how CDs used to work (if the medium went bad, you lost the music), and the music industry would love to get back to that kind of environment.

  • by EXTomar (78739) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:58AM (#4076906)
    Legally, a user that does not read the EULA then can not fiegn ignorance later if they break the license. It was presented to them at the pre-installation. It is there responsibility to make sure they legally understand what they are getting into.

    Having said this, the way most EULA are presented are HOSTILE to the user. Confusing legalese language presented in a tiny scrolling text box smaller than the text area I'm writing this response in. What is your recourse if you have a question about a clause? Stop the installation and e-mail MicroSoft? You bought the software today and would probably like to use it today. Waiting for a response from MS and then possibly consulting your private lawyer is a laughable action to take for minor piece of software. Then step it up a notch: Window's Media Player is tightly integrated. You can't PATCH the system properly unless you take all of the parts which requires reading multiple EULA which are all different. What happens if you agree to one but not another? Your installation (and your computer) is probably now unusable or will have incompatible hiccups.

    I am still waiting for EULA in general to be challenged in court. Where did the consumer right for quality assurance and regress go? Why does one have to sign away more rights to get bug fixes?!?
  • by FlyerFanNC (112562) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:00AM (#4076925)
    I used to copy my CDs onto tape to listen to in my car. Now I make MP3s so I can carry my music collection around with me. I have never copied someone else's music, and I've never allowed friends to copy mine. The same goes for movies. By insisting on copy protection, groups like the RIAA and MPAA are calling me a liar and a thief. This pisses me off enough that I have not bought nearly as much music and video in the past couple years that I might have otherwise.

    I hope these groups understand that if fair-use copies are some day not allowed at all, I will no longer buy their recordings. Period. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.
  • Re:Oh No!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:13AM (#4077033) Homepage
    Sure there are.

    One of them is called
  • by ctid (449118) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:23AM (#4077110) Homepage
    Come on! You can't possibly mean this. What if the computer isn't normally connected to the internet. For all you know, the person recorded the whole collection from CDs. Maybe they never connect to the internet. Why should they have to do so to listen to music they legitimately copied from CDs that they paid for? Perhaps they do sometimes connect to the internet, but have to use a dial-up connection and pay for it? How is dialling up "zero (0) extra effort"?

    I think the only conclusion from this incident is that thinking people will not use WMA to store music. I can't imagine anyone concluding anything different.

  • by gilroy (155262) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:32AM (#4077174) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the article:

    they don't use this utility they will need to re-create (re-copy) their music CDs into their music library on their PC. Find out more information about this process at "You can also choose to turn off copy protection when you create your music collection, which can be done easily in any version of [WMP7.x or later]."
    ... or you can choose to forgo Windows Media Player entirely and buy an independent, third-party program. I happen to like MusicMatch Jukebox [] but there are many, many options out there.

    If you're lazy and use MS products just because they're already there, you're likely to keep running into this problem.

  • This is why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:35AM (#4077200)
    This is a good example of why this technology is doomed from the start.

    Can you imagine what will happen when Mary Jan Mathteacher and her husband Joe Sixpack run into this? I mean, you and I are above average with respect to our computer knowledge and this is a pain the in the butt even for us. To Mary and her brethren, this is just one more reason why "the computer hates me". I can't thing of any better way to stifle online music sales (if there ever becomes a market for them)

  • by dd301 (141836) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:36AM (#4077211)

    1. 'When you first run Windows Media Player, it will ask if you want to keep copy protection on, and you can turn it off if you wish.'

    Why is this the default? How many people want to "protect" their music?

    'We did anticipate this scenario and developed a tool to help them update their licenses: the Personal License Update Utility.'

    Leading to massive privacy violations--any bets on how many companies they sold the information in their database to?

    What's funny is, My Lyra requires a funky DRM'd MP3 format that only uses their propietary software to create it...those files won't work on anything else either. BUT, copy any kind fo WMA file directly to the CF card and it works fine.

    It is not funny at all. Looks like you got ripped off. You may want to trade it in for a real mp3 player.

  • by dipfan (192591) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:37AM (#4077215) Homepage
    Jack Schofield, the Jack in "Ask Jack," the title of this Q&A, is a notoriously pro-MS cheerleader. It's almost sickening, in fact, having read his articles over the years. Many newspapers have these sort of "Doctor PC" columns, and they give Microsoft a free ride in terms of customer support and advertising. But how is it these columns don't ever advise: "Internet Explorer really sucks, you should download Mozilla" or whatever superior Open Source alternative there is. Certainly Jack never does.

    In fact, last week the section's letters page got a letter from a reader asking why "Ask Jack" never answered any Mac queries, or any other OS for that matter. The reply was, oh Jack's a real expert, you can ask him anything. So, please, go ahead, why not "Ask Jack" your deepest questions about some tricky Debian or Slackware problem, I'm sure he'll be just delighted to answer. Email him at:
  • by gowen (141411) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:39AM (#4077228) Homepage Journal
    not disabling the 'Personal Protection'
    And what a splendidly Orwellian bit of double speak that name is. I can't see which bit of the users person such a feature might be used to protect. I guess "Corporate Protection" just didn't have the right ring.
  • feature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binarybum (468664) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:39AM (#4077233) Homepage
    I'm not sure when something that benefits the RIAA but can only cause headaches for end users started being called a "feature."

    If you build a car that is incapable of going over 65mph do you advertise it as an anti-speed ticket "feature"?

  • by Mirk (184717) <> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:41AM (#4077240) Homepage
    Did anyone else choke on their coffee as they read this? From the original article --
    When you first run Windows Media Player, it will ask if you want to keep copy protection on, and you can turn it off if you wish. If you missed that dialog box, it is still easy to turn off copy protection by going into the Tools|Options menu. Click on the Copy Music tab, and under Copy Settings, uncheck the 'Protect Content' box. In previous versions, this box was called the 'Enable Personal Rights Management' check box." Turning off copy protection would seem the best idea.
    D'oh! So the DRM is so easy to counteract that there is literally an "override DRM" wizard, and an "override DRM" button for those who missed it.

    So how does this so-called DRM actually provide any security whatsoever for the copyright holders? It doesn't. It is irritation-ware pure and simple. Just another totally unnecessary hoop to jump through.

    Or is it? How about this for a totally irrational paranoid fantasy: could it be that by clicking the "turn off DRM" button you are circumventing the copy-protection and so, technically, in breach of the DCMA? Just how twisted would MS have to be to implement a honey-trap just so they could sell the RIAA a list of the theoretically guilty?

    Disclaimer: no, even I don't really believe this. But, hey, food for thought, eh?

  • This will go well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Badanov (518690) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @11:59AM (#4077408) Homepage Journal
    The first time someone wants to replay their child's birth (or conception :o)) MPEG and they are informed they can't unless they use the internet or they jump through the right hoops. Then at that point will DRM be an infringement on a person's own right to play their own content on any machine they want? What about burning the image of a child, as an example, playing little league you want to send to the folks at home? Does this DRM mean that those images can only play on the originating computer? I guess in MS's world, content managament means they can manage any content that plays on any of their licensed products. Wasn't this, like, declared illegal summer 2001? Help me out here, you folks who are so in love with Redmond's products... Enlighten me... You know MS is so fixated on digital rights management they don't even consider what their obligations are to the world at large, the obligations that though the new paradigm is they own the software you are using and you have only those rights they grant you, at some point there must be a delineation of responsibilities by MS: that they may not interfere with your online or offline activities, EVEN IF ILLEGAL, unless they go through the same processes that law enforcement agencies must go through to build a prima facie case; where is MS's obligation? Doesn't their use of the internet to manage XP constitute broadcasting and is subject to the same strictures that everyone else is under the FCC? Even in computers it would seem to me that citizens in a republic such as ours (USA) must be protected from outlaw contracts such as EULAs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2002 @12:06PM (#4077479)
    "Personal License Migration Service (PLMS)" Forcing people to pay a monthly fee for the privelege of playing their mp3s and having MSFT spy on them. They'll be lining up by the dozens to sign up for sure....
  • Re:RTFM! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DunbarTheInept (764) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @12:12PM (#4077545) Homepage
    It's no fair asking a user to RTFM when 95% of the material in the F'ing M is blatantly obvious stuff that doesn't add anything at all that you couldn't figure out by just looking at the interface yourself. I've always had a beef with Microsoft's user documentation because it wastes valueble reader time with crap like "to close the file pick File|Close from the menu" and not enough time on the hairy stuff for which documentation would really be helpful. I'll take a dry unix man page any day over MS's documentation. Sure, the man page is boring and droll, but it doesn't waste your time explaining stuff you already know. You get an awful lot in just a few screenfulls of terse paragraphs.
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @12:31PM (#4077715)
    Oh Man. Where have you been? MS doesn't want "government"controlled DRM, they want "Bill Gates" controled DRM. It's only a matter of time (and not much time either) before MS locks you in with palladium and you have no choices at all.

    Go back a few years in news archives and you will see the "chipping away" as you read story after story of MS adding restrictions, killing competitors, eliminating privacy, using closed standards over open standards, and basically doing everything possible to lock you into pricy MS products and proprietary-closed-invasive technology.

    Anyone remember the GUID in office docs? The privacy violations in passport? The "right" to delete stuff off your hard drives in the new EULA?

    MS's "stances" always have some sinister motive behind them resulting in more $$$ in Bill's pockets. You seem to think they have the consumers best interest in mind. I guess that's why the XP products have WPA and why DRM is in there at all... DRM restrictions are "good for you" dontcha know...
  • Re:Insanity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @12:48PM (#4077870) Homepage Journal
    Do not do this! You are wrong! I know, because I did the same thing and only woke out of it a few years ago.

    (Probably different genre, but same principle, so pay attention.)

    I'm a metalhead, but I didn't have enough underground exposure, and let me tell you: the early/mid 1990s were hell. Since metal was being pushed in the 1980s, I had lazily gotten into the bad habit of relying on a very twisted and distorted intel source: the radio (and even worse at one point: MTV headbangers ball -- this is fucking embarrassing to admit in public). That was how I heard new music. When the push switched away from metal in the 1990s, I came to the same conclusion as you: all the new music is shit. So I just stuck with what I knew, and only kept up with the same old aging American thrash bands from the 1980s (e.g. Flotsam and Jetsam, Testament, etc.). Those guys were actually making pretty good music IMHO, but there just wasn't very much of it. It was a sad feeling, knowing that someday the 1980s metal bands would all die off, and then that would be the end of an artform. Mankind would descend into a dreary soulless nothingness.

    There's just one problem: across the pond, metal was thriving. Even here in America, there were some damned fine bands making great music. I just didn't know about it, because my intel source (commercial mass media) was rotten, and they weren't covering it.

    In '98, thanks to the internet, I finally found out and was saved. My CD collection blossomed from a couple hundred to around a thousand or so, I guess. Turns out that not all new music was shit, I just had to go looking for it, that's all.

    Maybe metal isn't your thing. I don't know what your thing is. But I bet someone out there is playing it. So get off your ass and find it, and lose that nostalgia. I'm not saying you have to give up the classics, but if you're waiting for the shit to blow over, you're going to miss something you'll regret.

  • by foobar104 (206452) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @01:01PM (#4077993) Journal
    Nobody is going to like this, but I'm going to say it anyway. These sorts of problems wouldn't exist if computers had a unique serial number in them.

    I work a lot with SGI computers. Software on SGIs is licensed with FlexLM, and FlexLM depends on this thing called the license host ID number. On an SGI, that host number is burned into a special chip on the midplane called the NIC, for number-in-a-can. (Yeah, another instance of an overloaded acronym.) SGI's have had these for years and years.

    When you get a software license, you provide the vendor with your license host ID, which is that number-in-a-can number. The vendor generates a license that will only be valid on your computer. Because the NIC is a piece of hardware, you can wipe your disks to your heart's content, and your license keys (as long as you keep copies of them) will continue to work.

    It's a pretty foolproof system. I don't know precisely how it works, but there are at least two NICs in each computer, and new components are shipped from the factory in a special blank state, such that the old, failed part can be replaced with the new part and the system will flash the new NIC chip with the system's license host ID at power-up. Or something like that. All I know for sure is that I've had virtually every piece of my SGIs replaced at one time or another, and I've never had a problem with the license host ID.

    I want to re-emphasize that this is not a new thing. SGIs have had NIC chips on them for as long as I can remember. Computers from other vendors may have them, too, but I couldn't say.

    Now, if PCs had NIC chips in them, or the equivalent, the sort of problem described in the article would never arise. Copy-protected music files could be linked to a specific license host ID, which is stored in hardware. Wipe your drives, upgrade your machine, whatever, as long as you keep the same license host ID, the licensed stuff on your computer will continue to work.

    Of course, you'd be unable to move your music files from one computer to another, but that's the whole point of the system, isn't it?

    Now, how do you think the Slashdot audience would respond if somebody-- anybody-- advocated putting NIC-like technology in personal computers?

    I think we're all going to have to acknowledge that some form of copy protection for media is necessary. The question then becomes, how do we (and I don't literally mean "we," but you get my point) devise a system that protects the media to the extent necessary, but that ensures as much convenience to the user as possible?

    Next time somebody advocates something like the Pentium unique serial number scheme from a few years back, don't be quite so quick to flame them.
  • by imkonen (580619) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @01:18PM (#4078139)
    "Just because he didn't RTFM, doesn't mean that it's the application's fault"

    I'm sorry, I just have to disagree with this. It's one thing to lose patience with somebody trying to install Linux for the first time and expecting it to work without any effort or reading of the manual.

    But I think it's safe to say that it is a standard, accepted behavior that a program which creates a file will still be able to access that file later. Computer users have been backing up data on alternate media in case of a computer crash since the first personal computers. If the pragram writer wants to break from that model (oh if you'd just read the entire 400 page manual, you would have known that in addition to selecting "save" from the menu, you have to go into the preferences menu and uncheck the "screw you" button. It's right here clear as day on page 354) it really is up to the programer to call attention to this fact.

    There's no warning when you rip the file. There's no warning when you run the Windows backup utility (hey...this guys backing up .wma files...I wonder if I should warn him that he needs to back up his liscence). The only warning you get is when you turn it off...then you get a misleading dialog warning you that you may be limiting your ability to play certain files when you UNCHECK the DRM option. Fact is you CAN play protected content with DRM unchecked...AFAICT it only affects the files you make, which means there is absolutely no advantage to the user to leave this thing checked. This stupid "feature" even turns itself back on every time you upgrade WMP. Funny how the program manages to remember my other personal settings like my library, and my skin preferences, but GOD forbid I go from 7.0 to 7.01 and expect it to remember that I had turned off DRM

    Yea, I's a free program and who am I to complain if they do something I don't like. Well that's their prerogative, and it's my prerogative to switch to another program (which I did, and I'll freely admit I was the sucker here for being lazy and using a program that came with Windows instead of looking for a better one from the start) but don't tell me I should have anticipated their break from what has been normal behavior for the past 15 years I've been using personal computers.

  • by uncoveror (570620) <webmaster@uncove ... om minus painter> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @01:20PM (#4078151) Homepage
    This is yet another reason to boycott the recording industry. [] Since Microsoft is now doing their bidding, boycott their products as well. Consumers should never do business with companies that presume we are all theives and pirates. They all deserve to be out of business.
  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon @ g m a i l . com> on Thursday August 15, 2002 @01:20PM (#4078154)
    MS wants to push its customers around, its customers should just stop paying to be treated like theives and move onto a OSes that seem to work [like linux]

    Agreed, but the MS coffers are now being used to get laws into place that would force Linux to behave the same way. And even worse, they are trying to push the DRM technology into the hardware. Just to be fair, though, I must say that MS obviously isn't the only company involved in this. To some extent, they are responding to demands from the RIAA and others.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @02:52PM (#4078971) Journal
    This really points to the disturbing trend (Palladium anyone?) that says you have to connect to the internet to even use your computer.

    A bomber the FBI was hunting recently discovered something similar about his cell phone.

    He had driven halfway across the country from the area where he had been planting bombs in people's mailboxes. Somewhere in Nevada he powered up his cellphone. And when the cellphone identified itself to the network, the new "locate the 911 call" system (which actually tracks the phone any time it's on) reported his location to the cops (who had already notified the phone company to look out for him). They had him captured within half an hour.

    Of course the first time the general population heard about this capability was when it was mentioned in a news story about the capture. (If the cops hadn't told the reporter it had been used, even those of us who knew it was possible wouldn't have known it was already deployed.)

    This digital rights management registration has the same properties, but for any type of line:

    Turn on your computer while it's attached to the internet and it "phones home" to check your licenses, which are identified to you personally.

    This identifies the IP number you're currently using.

    The IP number - even if it's dynamic - identifies the ISP, and the port within it.

    The ISP can track the port to a physical connection - either hardwired or dialup - and can do this either in real-time or from logs after the connection is dropped.

    The location can be identified immediately for hardwired connectinos. For dialups the phone company or companies handling the call can track it - again either real-time or from logs. (Both the ISP and the phone companies can tie this to your name, bank account, and so on.)

    The entire process CAN be automated (if it has not been already), much like Carnivore, giving the FBI or others instant access to the information.

    This may already have been authorized by the Patriot act. It's directed at enemy non-citizens and intended to be used by the "intelligence community" and so claims to escape many civil-rights safeguards (such as the need to get a warrant before using it), much like the incarceration without recourse to courts used against Johnny Walker Lindh and others associated with the Taliban.

    Of course if this facility is used to capture an actual bomber and save lives, that's good. But if it's used to capture somebody some law-enforcement or spy agency THINKS is the bomber, it's not so good. And if it's used to harass opposition political figures, anybody some bureaucrat or cop doesn't like, or random citizens, it's called "a police state".

    Please don't tell me "It can't happen here." Because it DID happen here. Repeatedly. (Look up COINTELPRO - or the general history of the FBI - for examples within the computer era.) And don't tell me it USED to happen but doesn't anymore, either. It takes decades for this stuff to come to light, so the recent stuff is still not general knowledge. (I remember people saying it doesn't happen anymore when COINTELPRO was happeneing.)

    But the "digital rights management" hook is just the last straw, tying your personal identity to your computer's identity in advance. The bulk of this has already been deployed - at least in Microsoft systems and possibly in others.

    Microsoft system installs attempt to configure your network connection. If they succeed, it's "PC Phone Home". They have your Software Product Key (a unique identifier for the software distribution), the serial number of your CPU if it exposes one, the MAC address of any ethernet cards (which can serve as a hardware unique identifier if your CPU doesn't expose a serial number), and any info you entered during the setup - like to sign up for network service. Of course the connection itself gives them your call trace information.

    A few years ago Microsoft found a new use for spam: They sent out a series of "developer conference" adds. The remove-me email address would bounce. But the remove-me URL would load a mix of HTML, Javascirpt, and VBscript which would construct a URL containing your registry information and use it to query (The registry contains your Software Product Key, ethernet card MAC address, etc.)

    Some of the file formats used by Microsoft tools embed identifying information in files they store or exchange - which can also get it into email. An example is Microsoft Word, and the identifying information has already been use to arrest at least one macro-virus author.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2002 @05:00PM (#4079268)
    There is no reason to convert MP3 to ogg (or ogg to mp3) and a very good reason NOT to.

    Both formats (as well as the despised wma) are lossy compression. Any format converted from ogg to mp3, or mp3 to ogg, will lose quality.

    ALSO, when burning downloaded files to CD, it isn't a bad idea to mark the CD (with a pen) as originally coming from MP3 (or ogg) so you won't think they are pristine files. If you convert back, you lose even more quality.

    I usually (if there is room on the CD) make it multisession, with the original MP3s in the "computer only" portion and the .cda files as the primary session. This way, it plays in your car but if you want an MP3 (or ogg) copy, it is already there and you don't have to convert back.

    springfield fragfest

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes. -- Dr. Warren Jackson, Director, UTCS