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Microsoft's Janus DRM Software Officially Unveiled 570

hype7 writes " is reporting the official unveiling of Microsoft's new DRM system, internally dubbed 'Janus'. Interestingly enough, a wide variety of companies including AOL, Dell, Disney, Napster and Freescale, a subsidiary of Motorola, have all signed on to the technology. Whilst some content providers and producers are keen, it remains to be seen what consumers will think - 'the new digital rights management tools include features that would protect content that is streamed around a home network, or even block data pathways potentially deemed 'unsafe,' such as the traditional analog outputs on a high-definition TV set. That's a feature that has been sought by movie studios in advance of the move to digital television.' I love the quotes from the MS rep - 'This release of technology really enables all kinds of new scenarios that are emerging now,' said Jason Reindorp, a group manager in Microsoft's Windows digital media unit. 'We're taking quite a holistic view.' It's good to see Microsoft taking a holistic view of preventing the consumer doing what they want with their paid for content, and protecting us from unsafe data pathways."
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Microsoft's Janus DRM Software Officially Unveiled

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  • Janus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sydb ( 176695 ) * < minus city> on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:17PM (#9044956)
    from the faces-inclined-in-many-directions dept.

    Janus [] looks in two directions, not many; thus the pejorative usage indicating that the abusee is "two-faced". And quite appropriate; the face MS Janus presents to the music
    commercialisation industry is of security and protection, while one of restriction and control gazes down on the unwashed masses.

    Notably, Janus is the god of gates and doors but not windows; what can this mean for Microsoft's next operating system release? Certainly it will be more opaque than current offerings. Perhaps we also have a clue as to the MS Doors Startup Sound - "Waiting for the Sun"? But Microsoft's wait is over. Perhaps it's really "The End"?

    Such opportunity for dismal wordplay!
    • Re:Janus (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:19PM (#9044993)
      It's not just a two-faced view, it's a holistic two-faced view.
    • Re:Janus (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mattintosh ( 758112 )
      I was thinking along similar lines, except more with the idea that Microsoft is the two-faced party here. Think about it. They market themselves as "user friendly" yet they make something so blatantly unfriendly to the user that it won't allow them to do things they're legally allowed to do. Two-faced, indeed.
    • Re:Janus (Score:3, Informative)

      by haeger ( 85819 )
      There appear to be something called Janus Quadrifrons which indeed had "faces-inclined-in-many-directions".
      Read more about it here [].


    • by markv242 ( 622209 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:26PM (#9045091)
      'This release of technology really enables all kinds of new scenarios that are emerging now,'
      Under what circumstance does this enable anything by the consumer?
      • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:32PM (#9045161) Homepage
        Under what circumstance does this enable anything by the consumer?

        It "enables" us to pay for things in a format that, at present, they dare not sell to us because we're a bunch of dirty thieves. If they sold us a movie over the internet NOW we might think that we should be allowed to watch it a second time for FREE.

        • by SuburbaniteFury ( 776695 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @08:56PM (#9047098)
          This is the whole point of an effective antitrust system (which we certainly do not have) versus what comes close to laissez-faire economics. If there were another platform with an even remotely significant percentage of the user base, no customer in their right mind would swallow Janus; they would gravitate toward the inevitable alternative. In this real world, however, there is not going to be any other alternative that runs on Windows -- Microsoft can make sure of that. Sadly, in a monopolistic world, our rights diminish every day. *This* is the reason why we need open standards and, apparently, open source.
      • by harvardian ( 140312 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:22PM (#9045780)
        I know this won't be a popular argument on Slashdot, but I can think of one scenario where DRM is potentially enabling.

        Take, for example, the fact that you can't download The Lion King on the Internet right now (I mean from Disney, not BitTorrent). I'd guess that this is because Disney can't afford to put such valuable IP on the Internet without being able to control its distribution...yeah, yeah, information wants to be free and whatever, but can you REALLY blame Disney for not liberating something that DESERVEDLY makes them money?

        The only way we're going to see experimentation with content distribution is with DRM like this. It's better to boycott Disney's draconian DRM and have them loosen it than to not have any DRM and content distribution at all.

        And to those of you who will say "but Apple got music distributors to accept DRM that doesn't include analog out screening!": in my opinion, this may be a slightly different beast. Today's music industry is pop hit obsessed -- the business model is based on short-term success. With movies, it's a little different. Even though rentals occur most frequently soon after a movie's release, I'd think the tail stretches out much farther.
    • by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:26PM (#9045097)
      I rather like the term "unsafe data pathways" - what a wonderful euphemism!

      I think I'll go play some morally questionable auditory material over an unsafe data pathway right now.
    • Re:Janus (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Laebshade ( 643478 )
      'We're taking quite a holistic view.'
      When I first read that I thought he said holocaustic view. That would explain all this nazism of controlling in how we view content.
    • Re:Janus (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kilgortrout ( 674919 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:38PM (#9045247)
      This is really ironic. Janus is the Roman god of portals(gates and doors) and was commonly placed at Roman doors. Janus had two faces, one to look out for evil doers as a guard and the other to look in to safeguard the residents from harm. In true MS fashion, MS is using this mythological figure in just the opposite way. Here, Janus looks into the home to spy on the residents and make sure they don't use digital media "improperly" and looks out to safeguard the interests of the outsider industries coming into the home with their digital media.
    • Re:Janus (Score:5, Funny)

      by LupeSpywalper ( 713932 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:59PM (#9045470) Journal
      Notably, Janus is the god of gates and doors but not windows;

      I don't think Gates have a god, in most cases it seems like he thinks he is God.
    • Re:Janus (Score:3, Funny)

      by TWX ( 665546 )
      "Janus looks in two directions, not many; thus the pejorative usage indicating that the abusee is "two-faced". And quite appropriate; the face MS Janus presents to the music"

      I just thought that if a Java version came out, it would be "J Anus" for a naming scheme...

      Boy wouldn't that be true to form...
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:17PM (#9044958)
    We are getting closer and closer to the day when NOTHING will work on any electronic device without a conglomerate corporation's device allowing it to go through. We are allowing for a bad precedent to be set here.

    Notice the names that are interested: AOL, Dell, Disney. Interesting that these companies not only offer what we traditionally thought they did but they are now also offering TV and music related content along with many other items they shouldn't have been allowed to control.

    So here it comes... Dell is going to slowly get into DRM. You are going to see it as a benefit. You can now download a large catalogue of music easily and legally to your computer and portable MP3 playing devices. Woo! Just wait till you want to copy your old collections of CDs to your Dell computer with DRM'd BIOS and OS and then onto your portable. Can you do that? Nope. That's illegal! You aren't proving that you own that CD. What if it was burned and didn't come from the manufacturer. Ok, so let's try the old analog inputs. It's an MP3 afterall and we don't care much about quality...

    Error: We notice you are trying to use inputs which are attempting to allow something to pass through our DRM system. We are now blocking access to the ports via hardware.

    If you think that by running Linux you are somehow going to escape this you're wrong. The possibilities that computer HARDWARE will only work with DRM enabled BIOS's is coming. Nevermind the fact that if you want to be connected to the rest of the world you will have to have a DRM'd computer with a DRM'd BIOS in order to do so.

    "Welcome to hell boys!"
    • I refuse to believe the nightmare scenario where all hardware needs to be DRM.

      business and academic institutions simply will not accept this kind of BS. the internet, or a better version of it (i.e. without the hacked XP spam systems) will continue to exist.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:26PM (#9045087)
        I seriously hope you are joking...

        Businesses and Academia are the two WORST examples you could have given here.

        Hardware distributers have most learning institutions and companies by the balls. They offer deep discounts for bulk purchases *AND* they offer the employees of those institutions rebates as well.

        MS is pulling the same bullshit. Offer the software to the schools are extremely low rates and then offer the Office/etc applications for $10 to $20.

        You think that schools and businesses are going to give up those deals because they don't like what MS is doing?

        Communication between businesses, schools, and the rest of the world is important to those instituions. There's no choice.
        • >Communication between businesses, schools, and the rest of the world is important to those instituions. There's no choice.

          exactly, and it's MS who don't have the choice.

          imagine instantly splitting the internet into 2: those using Windows, and those not using Windows. do you really think that those not using Windows will change, cos I think 99% of all changes would be to the non-Windows internet.

          individuals who want to surf and do email would change to linux, but you won't get businesses, academics et
        • by wyseguy ( 513173 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:09PM (#9045609) Homepage

          I can speak from experience here. I work at a small 4 year University. We have Microsoft's open license here. Every full-time employee has the opportunity to get a free copy of anything in the Microsoft catalog for their home use. This deal has our IT head so blinded against anything beside Microsoft that we have started a program for computer security with no classes offered in Linux or Unix. Even modest attempts to get applications like Dreamweaver taught for basic web design courses are met with open hostility bordering on outright hatred. Every attempt I've done to open the administrations eyes to a more inclusive software policy has been shut down. Even when faced with facts (like web browser polls from Netcraft), they maintain their myopic position. I guess its what one should expect when even non-technical people can see (and mention) that our IT head is hopelessly out of his depth.

      • I refuse to believe the nightmare scenario where the election is stolen, an idiot becomes President, and starts a stupid war which makes us the Whore of Babylon...

        oopps... too late.


      • ...But I fear you're not. You'd think businesses and schools would be the last stronghold, but those have been "infected" too. Microsoft makes schools and businesses alike offers they can't refuse. Even if those groups resisted with all their might, there is something bigger at work here.

        These aren't some random chunks of bad news suddenly coming together and giving us these nightmares; this stuff has been a long time coming. Getting folks to think that software and music and television all come from m
    • Retroriggers (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's like a movie: teams of retroriggers with dusty snapcases and old computers descend upon sleek new media and crack it open with forbidden circuitboards from the 1990s.

      No, the *end* of everything is when the old stuff is forbidden -- when the government decides to take Jack Valenti's advice (he hasn't given it yet, but he will -- before he retires) and ban all computer equipment made before 2004. Then the only people left are the retroriggers.

    • Calm down, it's just vaporware at this point, and computing will be affected.

      If finished, this technology will deny those who refuse to use non-free software access to many aspects of mainstream culture, but this doesn't seem to be a great loss to me.
    • > We are getting closer and closer to the day when NOTHING will work on any electronic device without a conglomerate corporation's device allowing it to go through.

      I don't think that's true. We're getting closer to the day when the only content we can manipulate is that generated by ourselves or those with whom we cooperate.

      You know, I seem to remember John Nesbitt writing way-back-when that the information age would necessitate the re-emergence of the guild. Basically, a guild would be a trusted network of friends with whom we share work, files, and so on. I doubt Nesbitt could have imagined P2P when he wrote this -- it must have been back in the early Nineties -- but maybe we're getting closer to the idea of private "virtual internets."

      We'll find ways to communicate freely, ladies and gents.

      • Bingo. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by poptones ( 653660 )
        It's already happening. The only new US release I've bought in years came from one of the Creative Commons websites, and I don't doubt I'll be buying more. I downloaded the songs from usenet, liked them so much I went looking for the artist's website, then was pleasantly surprised to find the release offered on Magnatune. [] For eight bucks I "upgraded" my 192kbps MP3s to FLAC and contributed four bucks to the artist - likely a lot more than he would have received from Sony or EMI.

        I don't really have issues w

    • Looks to me like the days of the "home brew" computer are coming back. There will very quickly be a market for non-DRM computers. Of course, then we can expect the government to make it illegal to own non-DRM'd computing equipment. You know what this sounds like? Stallman's "right to read" dystopia. (Check it out on

      Countering this is going to be quick an adventure. How do you convince Joe 6-pack - who already believes that the Patriot Act is necessary to prevent terrorism, that the war on drugs is a good thing and that the it's OK to give up rights for some mythical security - to object to these things and vote against people who try to impose them on him.

      I don't hold out a lot of hope, but if we can keep the governement from making non-DRM equipment illegal, we may have a chance. I won't hold my breath, though.

    • If they disable analog audio inputs because they can potentially be used to circumvent their DRM scheme, they'll be preventing things such as voice chat and independent music recordings (garage bands).

      Sure the RIAA and others would love to get rid of analog inputs (unless you pay for a subscription to a trusted voicechat/recording program, of course), but this will quickly die due to the large numbers of corporations who would get mighty pissy if they suddenly had to pay a $10000 "tusted audio recording" f
    • You can be assured I will never, ever buy a motherboard with DRM bios in it.

      To quote appropriately for this situation: Those who give up freedom for security deserve neither.

      I will not give up my freedoms. Those media corporations can go to hell. I've got almost all the media I'd ever want right now anyway.

      Sure, there might be some DVDs I want later. That's what Hollywood Video/Blockbuster is for.

      And, whoever said media was all there was to computing? I'm not going to go to DRM bios just so those m

    • If you think that by running Linux you are somehow going to escape this you're wrong. The possibilities that computer HARDWARE will only work with DRM enabled BIOS's is coming. Nevermind the fact that if you want to be connected to the rest of the world you will have to have a DRM'd computer with a DRM'd BIOS in order to do so.

      Maybe the latest and greatest ATI or nVidia card might require DRM-BIOS to work, but somebody somewhere will keep making non-DRM hardware... and somebody somewhere will keep supplyi
      • companies are going to be betting their whole empire on the publuc accepting it... I doubt they'll be that dumb.

        Well, the public are dumb enough just now to accept pretty much everything they are told to swallow. I don't there's anything dumb about companies assuming the public is dumb.

        When are you Americans going to use the guns your Founding Fathers guaranteed you in the constitution? Is there some kind of threshold that must be breached when the general public locks and loads? I'm not saying this shou
  • by prostoalex ( 308614 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:17PM (#9044960) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft historically has not been successful with DRM implementations. Windows Media perhaps is the only example that succeeded (with MS Reader being one of the main points of frustrations). Read this [], it's interesting, and coming from Joe Wilcox at Jupiter Research:
    Bottom line: I'm not convinced Microsoft's philosophical approach to rights-protected content is one consumers will embrace.

    Also read Rory Blyth trying to buy an eBook []. The stuff sounds made up except that I ad exact same experience with buying an eBook off Amazon for my Dell Axim, which ran Microsoft Reader. The book was DRMed and that was the last eBook I bought off Amazon, and wrote them roughly what Rory described in the complaint message.

    • You're forgetting one simple word, apathy. Consumers as a whole will take what they are given, not what they need or want (I'm talking on a particular market, the US market, it is different in other places). Slap Microsoft's sticker on it and say it's secure, and an awful lot of people will flock to it. If that fails, well, every new cheap Dell PC you buy will be "more secure for the web" or some other gibberish like that. People not in the know WILL scoop that up and will prove market demand, irregardless

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:18PM (#9044971)
    HDTV tuners and sets are already in the market, and they know nothing about this Janus technology. If a broadcaster were to use this technology to "protect" its content, these older devices won't know how to make heads or tails of the restrictions, and therefore are going to have to be considered "untrusted" and not allowed to have the content.

    That's just not going to fly in the marketplace. HDTV early adopters will just ignore the content that their units can't play back, and broadcasters aren't going to want to limit their potential audience by ruling out everybody but those who have bought certain models of HDTV hardware.

    This platform will need a killer app, and I doubt Hollywood can come up with one...
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:22PM (#9045038)
      HDTV early adopters will just ignore the content that their units can't play back, and broadcasters aren't going to want to limit their potential audience by ruling out everybody but those who have bought certain models of HDTV hardware.

      You're kidding right? There is a mandated possibility that everyone will be adopting digital technology. You won't have a choice, if you want to watch the content, but to have a receiver that actually gets the signal and can interpret it.

      I am pretty certain that the sheep of the world will run out and buy whatever they need to buy in order to view their precious TV.

      The media conglomorates don't have to worry about losing anyone. They have the sheep by the balls.
    • Janus isn't for HDTV (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:25PM (#9045082) Homepage
      Over-the-air HDTV is a done deal; it's unencrypted with the broadcast flag to "control" copying. No one is suggesting using Janus for over-the-air HDTV broadcasts.

      The application for Janus is mentioned in the article: playing rented music on portable players.
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:18PM (#9044976) Homepage
    If any human can create it, any human can break it.

    DRM for the most part (I think) just doesn't work, being militaristic about media just sours the public opinion.
    • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:29PM (#9045137) Journal
      It doesn't matter if the protections are crackable.

      If the government has passed enough laws to make common bevaviors criminal, they can arrest whoever they want.

      The keystone of all this "innovation" will be when they make it a violation of U.S. law to connect a computer to the Internet if it does not have this usage limitation hardware.
    • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:38PM (#9045238) Journal
      Also.. that attitude is incorrect, and dangerous.

      It is incorrect to assume that because past weak efforts at protection have been cracked that anything can be cracked. These new protection standards use strong proven technology. It's very unlikely that someone will find a way to beat public key and AES encryption. So, they must find ways to exploit the weak links in the system -- grab the data when it is in the clear. This is what the iTunes crackers do. But, this hardware technology aims to eliminate those weak points. They will keep the data encrypted everywhere in software, only decrypting it in the chip that does the output. So, only real criminal pirates will have the resources to crack that. Those of us just wanting fair use of the material we pay for will be screwed.

      The attitude is dangerous because it encourages the people who know that this is wrong to be complacent about it. "Who cares, it will be cracked anyway." NO! it's wrong for it to happen in the first place. Do something about it, or support those that do.

      Join now: []
      • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:22PM (#9045785) Homepage
        It's very unlikely that someone will find a way to beat public key and AES encryption.

        Every single encryption technology since the beginning of time has seemed that way until some new way of attacking it was discovered and breaking it became easy. Do you honestly believe that for the first time in history, we have two algorithms (RSA and AES) that will not be beaten?

        And besides, DRM as implimented today is a fundamentally flawed concept. It is basically PKI in reverse. It all rests on the ability of a system to assign a private key to a user, and have that user access that private key via trusted applications to decrypt data BUT prevent that user from ever getting at that private key in any other way. Look at playfair, all it does it yank your private key out of itunes or the ipod. No breaking of the encryption method is needed to break DRM, just a way to get the key that by defination has to exist on your machine anyway.

      • by ( 463190 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:36PM (#9045933) Homepage
        It's very unlikely that someone will find a way to beat public key and AES encryption.

        That's not true... you don't need to "break the encryption" because the very nature of DRM encryption is that the client is doing the decryption himself. At some level you have to trust the client not to reveal the key to the user. All a hacker needs to do is figure out how it's encrypted and what the key is. The key is on your computer. You don't need to "break" anything.

        - grab the data when it is in the clear. This is what the iTunes crackers do.

        That's what qtFairUse did - snagged the data as it went through quicktime. But PlayFair is different and better - dvdJohn figured out how iTunes generates the key (from HD serial number and stuff) and that's the trick. No breaking of encryption is involved.

        I think what you're failing to understand is that all DRM mechanisms that have so far been conceived rely on the client at some level to hide the key or the mechanism of the encryption. As a programmer (but not a encryption expert) it is impossible for me to envision any other kind of DRM besides "security through obscurity" and that's why I agree with the grandparent that every popular DRM format will be cracked in time.

        Never mind that ANYTHING you can see or hear can be recorded, DRM or not, from an analog signal using advanced technology such as "sound cards" or even "tape recorders".
  • Great quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) * <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:18PM (#9044978)
    Microsoft is betting that the steady release of new content protection technology will help its audio and video formats become standard ways of distributing digital music and films, in turn, keeping people purchasing and using the Windows operating system and associated products.
  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:19PM (#9044984) Journal

    It's also of course one of the founding principles of capitalism - to harness an individuals greed (or, more politely, desire for improved returns). The thing is that here we have a conflict of greed. One the one hand, we have the **AA and their cohorts trying to control the distribution and use of their material, on the other we have the consumers trying to maximise how they can use the material that they feel they own (irrespective of licencing agreements) because they've paid for it.

    There was an article in New Scientist a while back about how even a very young child can appreciate fair play - if the child repeatedly gets given back only 4 sweets when they hand over 5 to the researcher, they quickly feel hard-done-by. Even lower primates have the same sense of 'fair play'. When we purchase a DVD or CD, we expect to be able to use it however we want, make coasters out of DVD's if that's what floats our boat. We resist limits on what we can do with something when we consider it 'ours' by right of payment. This is obviously a very basic and primitive response, but by that very nature will be very hard to eradicate...

    The upshot of all this of course will be that the OSS scene will become more and more 'free' in the sense that arbitrary limits on what you can do with data (DVD, CD, whatever) are far less likely than in the controlled (mainly MS, but others too) closed-source environments.

    Thank [insert random deity] for Linux and GNU, a tradition that has brought us to the point where we at least *have* a choice on what to do. Consider the alternative - without the rallying cry of the GPL and Linux, we'd be choosing between a fragmented unix market (and only Irix can really do justice to multimedia, IMHO), Apple or Windows. 99% of people would be using Windows and bemoaning that they had no real alternative. I guess we dodged that one, at least presupposing that there will be ways around the DRM imposed on the unfortunate windows users. We do have a far larger pool of talent to pull ideas from than the manufacturers though, so there is yet hope.

  • Why are companies always trying to push this shit on to the consumer? People need to learn if you don't like DRM then don't buy products that use them. This includes MP3 players, online music stores, DVDs, CDs, and Tvs. Other then DVDs I have been religious about boycotting anything that uses DRM. If more people did this then consumers will have more rights in the end. Just using their new formats only encourages companies to abuse their consumers more and more.
    • by RetroGeek ( 206522 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:56PM (#9045436) Homepage
      Why are companies always trying to push this shit on to the consumer?

      Because of your next words.

      People need to learn

      Most people DON'T learn. Here on /. we are effectively activists. The population as a whole has NO idea what all this means. Ask your average user what mp3 is and you will be told something about stealing music. Nevermind that it is just a compression format.

      Because of the mainstream media "mp3" == "stealing music" to most people.

      Tell them that there is a way to prevent this, and they will say "Good!", and they will buy it, because "it stops stealing". Give it a name, such as "DRM" and that gives them an easily identifiable label to look for.

      Later, when they want to time-shift a show, or save it for later viewing, THAT is when they will find out. But too late.
  • DVD Jon... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:19PM (#9044997) Homepage
    ...your compiler is calling.
  • by michael path ( 94586 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:20PM (#9045005) Homepage Journal
    Ok, not yet. But, as with anything DRM, give it a couple months after getting out of this concept phase.

    I will say I'm rather surprised at the laundry list of those onboard, including AOL, Dell, and Napster.

    At the risk of sounding lame, I'm in favor of anything that brings me music and movies in the medium of my choice - instead of having to wait for mail, drive to store, whathaveyou. If it means a lame DRM implementation, so it goes. It won't remain unhacked for long - if for no other reason that Microsoft is behind it, and people would love to show it vulnerable.
  • Uh-huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:20PM (#9045009)
    And at this very moment, Janus is now #1 on the hit parade of every cracker, hacker and slacker out there. It won't last thru the year is my guess.

    Codes were meant to be broken.

  • by miracle69 ( 34841 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:20PM (#9045012)
    I'm going to offer the movie studios the ultimate in DRM.

    For a large fee, I'll cut the optic nerves in all of their customers, thereby preventing any unauthorized duplication or descriptions thereof.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:21PM (#9045018)
    Apple DRM is fair and good and enables access to wonderful online content.

    Microsoft DRM is evil and repressive and will smother your ability to use your computer.

    Anyone violating these rules will be moderated accordingly.
  • by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:22PM (#9045027) Homepage Journal
    I had a discussion with a friend who was head editor at a well-known comic book publisher, as well as a screenwriter. His opinion is that copyright is some kind of absolute, and by extension, fair use isn't.

    Many such must exist in screenland.

  • by DJBurgie ( 679629 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:22PM (#9045029)
    I think it is ironic that M$ is working on a technology to help with "unsafe data pathways." How will a M$ product keep its content off of M$ products? The DRM that does not allow content. Sounds like a good way to keep it safe.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:22PM (#9045033) Homepage
    This was previously discussed on Slashdot [] a month ago.
  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:23PM (#9045046)
    What happens to a DVD player that can output a standard VGA signal? Will we see the encryption of every type of signal, to prevent going to buy a simple hardware MPEG encoder? Maybe I'm just not getting it, but what is preventing people fom simply using legacy output methods to encode their stuff?
    • I need to clarify my post, sorry. The article states that the formatting would prevent a player from sending the signal to an analog out method. What I meant is, will the new DRM media be playable at all on pre-DRM hardware? I think the answer is no, and if so - better grab some Sony stock, since that means the whole world is going to chuck their existing DVD players? How to construct an opt-in strategy like that?
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:56PM (#9045440) Homepage Journal
        It will never work. It is a fundamentally untenable position. It would mean that they would have to chuck:
        1. Every CD/DVD player
        2. Every TV
        3. Every audio amplifier
        4. Every audio cable
        5. Every pair of headphones
        6. Every pair of speakers
        In short, the average consumer will not be able to afford a system that can play media with restrictions on analog output. The few who are that rich will not be able to prop up the movie/music industry, and if they go down this path, they will utterly collapse under the force of their own greed and stupidity.

        Meanwhile, the independent studios will grown during the downturn, in part because they will choose to adapt to technology rather than trying to naively strong-arm technology to bend to their will.

        In other words, don't worry. This is just a case of corporate Darwinism. Let a few movie companies commit career suicide and everything will just work itself out naturally.

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:23PM (#9045049) Homepage Journal
    Did anybody else immediately think "now why did they name it something so close to 'anus'?"...
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:24PM (#9045066)
    The Analog Hole will never die. If content is to be displayed to humans, it's going to have to go get to light waves and sound waves somehow, and content can always be captured by kinescopes and acustic couplers. Sure, there's going to be some quality loss by resorting to those technologies, but there's no way to defeat them from making a copy, and those copies can then be encoded into digital format. There's always going to be a point of demarcation where the digitally encrypted stream must become a plaintext analog signal in order for the monitor or speakers to function, and anything that copies the signals at that point will have a pretty good looking copy as well. Unless the digital demarc point is installed after our eyes and ears on the way to the brain, I just don't see how this is going to work...
    • by tmacd ( 761305 )
      Y'know, I used to think that, and that it would never work.

      After I don't know how many times I've thought, "That's ridiculous, that would only work if they ([Got Congress to outlaw software that broke DRM]|[Got congress to mandate all A/D converters respect watermarks]|[Got Congress to outlaw general purpose computers]), only to see a member of Congress propose the very same thing a few months later, I'm convinced that it still will never work, but that our lives could sure become screwy as a consequence
  • by Mad Man ( 166674 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:26PM (#9045093)
    Janus was also the Russian mafia crime boss in the James Bond movie Goldeneye [] who **** SPOIILER ALERT *** turned out to be 006.
  • Money speaks volumes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrick_the_brave ( 160509 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:27PM (#9045102)
    What makes the difference is speaking with your money. So once this stuff gets out.. start talking to your family and friends. Educate them on fair use and what these limits may mean. Ask them to get information from the people they are buying things from. Imagine a Dell sales person spending an extra 30 minutes explaining the concept to someone who is expecting certain rights. This rapidly becomes uneconomical for Dell to support. Ultimately it becomes your time and effort vs theirs.

    Personally, I check every CD I want to buy by asking the clerk if it has 'protection' on it. If they cannot answer I ask to see the manager and so on. As a consumer you have a right to information and to know. If they cannot tell you, ask follow up and an answer. If they choose not to, let them know you will be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in your area. Let them know that you will be filing a complaint with the exact companies that sell them the CDs to state that the distributor is not informing customers appropriately. Be the person who disturbs the ant-hill.

    Change happens when it becomes unprofitable to do something (and someone can't blame a hacker or a pirate).
  • by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:28PM (#9045110)
    "Janus" was the software prodcut in Antitrust, where the Not Bill Gates, Honest character was killing people for getting in its way.

    Is this a threat, Bill?

  • by innerweb ( 721995 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:28PM (#9045118)
    ... I simply do not buy any of this technology. I pay for whatever I use (I do not steal), but I do not buy anything that limits my use of what I have purchased. Simple message. No dollars, no go.

    If you are worried about not getting your share of music, entertainment, etc, then you need to see all of the alternatives out there. There are plenty of bands not caught up in this madness who are quite good. There is theater, printed books, playing sports, painting, traveling... When you come right down to it, they are really making the easier forms of entertainment (listening to music, watching TV) harder and less competitive to more fulfilling forms of entertainment (playing sports, nature walks, getting out ...). As the cost analysis is shifted for more people, I bet they experience slower sales.

    I know they slowed my purchases already.


  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:29PM (#9045131) Homepage Journal
    I for one feel much safer knowing Microsoft is protecting me from media.

    "or even block data pathways potentially deemed 'unsafe,' such as the traditional analog outputs on a high-definition TV set"

    I assume that refers to the very dangerously analog visual display. Ohhh and be sure to make sure such dangerously analog outputs as speakers are disabled as well.

  • by Bobb Sledd ( 307434 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:30PM (#9045146) Homepage

    And the next /. story will be "Microsoft's Janus DRM Software Officially Compromised"...

  • "Paid for content" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thinkit4 ( 745166 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:33PM (#9045165)
    This is just playing into the artificial-scarcity crowd. What side are you on? How does one pay for information that can be copied for free? Information wants to be free.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:36PM (#9045203)
    You can't blame the providers unless you blame the general population's lack of ethics.

    It's sad that DRM is even necessary, which it obviously is, because the masses have spoken and said that they aren't willing to respect the content producer's rights, it's turned into a battle of rights. Is it more important to protect your right to make a backup of content or the content provider's right to get paid for creating the content?
    Honestly, the content providers have a lot more to lose in all of this, and will probably always need more protection of their rights as it becomes so easy to steal content. The content providers deserve the protection from how ubiquitous copyright violation has become in our culture.
    • by hyphz ( 179185 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:45PM (#9045328)
      > Is it more important to protect your right to
      > make a backup of content or the content
      > provider's right to get paid for creating the
      > content?

      That's perfectly true.

      But a better question is, which is it better to do: to try and innovate DRM which offers fair rights to the consumer, or to carry on spending huge amounts of money and dollars technically preventing (or trying to render illegal) the consumer's natural response to being denied those rights?

      As far as I'm aware, [i]no[/i] company is even attempting to work on DRM that will nonetheless permit fair use. And that fact can entirely be blamed on the DeCSS court decision - why should they try to keep fair use if it's been legally established that they can get away with denying it?
      • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:13PM (#9045668)
        Because fair use is a gaping hole that many (most?) people would exploit to get free stuff.

        I've never ever heard anyone talk about fair use outside of Slashdot, period. For most people it just isn't a big deal.

        Making a DRM system that works with fair use but still protects artists is really hard, probably impossible. Apples DRM sort of gets there by being weak and easily exploited, but I'm not sure that's really an answer. It's a solution by being half-arsed.

        It makes me wonder if the whole system of copyright is rather broken, to be frank. But I don't know of a better way, so I can't really criticize too much.

  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:38PM (#9045242) Journal
    Oh whenever i read another story about the libery crushing plans of DRM i recall the humorous humorous 'slashdot DRM Helmet'

    It plugs that 'analog hole' by analyzing everything you hear and blocking it out if you dont have a license.

    I wonder if some day in the future /. will be used as a prior art reference:)
  • by Marble68 ( 746305 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:41PM (#9045276) Homepage
    Ah, the subject that cost me Karma when I jokingly said "sounds like anus. As in ripped or torn..." Got tagged as a troll; some ppl can't take a joke.

    But to my point:

    I work in the entertainment industry (not music) and you might find it interesting MS's heavy push to position itself as the troll under the bridge.

    The movie industry is struggling (for many reasons that none of us are going to solve because they're not technical) with digital distribution of assets. Microsoft is positioning itself to have at a minimum some part of that industry.

    I've never worked outside the IT industry till now, and I can speak with certainty that it is indeed interesting to watch this going on.

    See this: MS Digital Cinema []

    As the predominate software vendor in the world, Microsoft is in the unique and enviable position of defining everyone's digital rights.

    Should a "monopoly" be allowed to wield this power? What oversight group is going to ensure that the People's rights are included in DRM?

    As the majority market owner, does a technology company have an obligation to open up proprietary software that directly affects a consumers ability to manage / safeguard digital solutions they quiet literally own?

    It's one thing with your Quicken database, you can print it out. But it's a completely different thing when you buy a song you have a legal right to copy or backup, but may not be able to because of a third parties technology solution.

    There are some areas, IMHO, where some standards body has got to step up.

    Best regards...

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:45PM (#9045312)
    I have an HD set (Sony GWIII), HD cable (Sci Atlanta 3250). The SA3250 will output downconverted versions of HD channels, but they don't look any better than their digital channel versions, and in some cases worse since the 3250 makes some icky choices about letter/pillarboxing 16:9 content.

    Why would you even bother blocking downconverts via DRM? They look just "OK", you almost never get access to a 5.1 sound track you can do much with besides listen to (some complicated HTPC setups excluded).

    Besides, it seems to be a nod to fairness to allow the next level "below" as an allowed copying medium if they're going to get persnickety with the "best" current medium.
  • by mgpeter ( 132079 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:45PM (#9045313) Homepage
    With all of this Digital Rights Management in the U.S. being developed I cannot help but think of how the content producers have acquired the "RIGHT" to add access control to works ??

    I just looked over the Copyright laws ( and I cannot find any laws that permit the copyright holder to impose their own controls on the actual product. All I could find are laws that allow the Producer the rights to either reproduce, distribute, perform the work publicly or make derivative works.

    There is no basis for the ability to control how the works should be viewed, heard, etc. It only covers who has the right of redistribution, etc. In fact copyright laws actually give certain rights of redistribution to the purchasers of copyrighted material, such as fair use.

    Also, fair use is only applied if you want to redistribute the work (part of the work) or make a derivative work to the object in question. What you do with the content you purchased in your own home, as long as you do not redistribute or make a derivative work that you plan to distribute, is perfectly legal (or was anyway).

    To put technological limits on how I use works that I purchase is beyond the scope of Copyright and is therefore (or should be) outlawed.

    Am I way off base with my thinking in this matter ??
    • by hyphz ( 179185 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:53PM (#9045409)
      > Am I way off base with my thinking in this
      > matter ??

      Sadly, yes.

      A legal "right" basically says "you can't be prosecuted just for doing this". Note the "just" - that's important, as obviously if you committed a crime in the course of doing it you could be prosecuted for that.

      It *doesn't* say that you have to be physically able to do it. Thus, right now, you have the right to drive a Rolls-Royce, because you wouldn't be prosecuted just for doing so. You cannot however demand one without paying, because the right doesn't say that you have to be physically able to do it. Likewise, you can't steal one, because then you could be prosecuted for stealing the car (which is not the same as prosecuting you for just driving it)

      So the fact that copyright law doesn't give anyone the "right" to restrict usage doesn't mean they can't do it. You don't need an explicit right to do everything.

      And the fact that you have the "right" to fair use, sadly, has been interpreted by a court is meaning it's OK for you not to do it. Legally, under the DMCA, you *can* break DRM to make fair use. But you *can't* distribute anti-DRM tools, so you have to work out how to do it yourself; and if you can't do that, that counts as "not doing it physically" so it doesn't legally deprive you of your right..
      • So the fact that copyright law doesn't give anyone the "right" to restrict usage doesn't mean they can't do it. You don't need an explicit right to do everything.

        It does mean that they can not restrict usage! The whole idea of copyright is that the consumer has all rights to the product, except for what the copyright law has given the producer (i.e. redistribution) What the major Corporations have done is that they changed the scope of Copyright in that they believe that all the rights are theirs (not

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:47PM (#9045347)
    Copyrights still expire. When that happens when copyrighted works fall into the public domain?

    This seems to be at direct odds with DRM. Is there any consideration of expiration of copyrights for this in the usage restriction laws?
  • by necro2607 ( 771790 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:49PM (#9045363)
    How long is it going to take before people realize that corporations creating "standards" is just their way of ensuring that people continue to buy their proprietary non-"open" products?

    Sorry, I'll stick with my impossible-to-control-or-limit mp3 technology, thanks. I don't care if it has to be "licensed", mp3 codecs are downloadable and usable very easily with no technical limitations at all, and that's exactly what I've been doing for quite some time now.

    If legal issues arise with the mp3 format I'll just use Ogg Vorbis.

    Why waste my time dealing with DRM bullshit like corporate-controlled statistics and tracking, and even worse, waste CPU time encoding the extra data used to for all of that when ripping my CDs to disk?

    Also, not being able to play a WMA file on my Mac because they don't make the newer Windows Media Player for older Mac OSes is just stupid. Microsoft's "standards" cut off previous systems and formats, and we all know it. Personally, if they're going to go so far as to use DRM-enabled BIOSes, I'll stick with my 1.5ghz system, regardless of how "fast" computers get. If I'm required to use a DRM-enabled system to get online, well, guess I'll have to resort to these [].

    Also, my household has numerous computers of varying platforms and OSes. I'm not going to segregate my network by eliminating the current interoperability I experience by using software that isn't crippled or even better, is designed to work with other software by default.

    In the end, it's just marketing. MS doesn't care about our "security". It's to protect their profits and their stranglehold upon the IT scene... this is just blatantly obvious, and I'm disappointed that people don't see this.

    A few final things to consider: in the end, who does this benefit? Do we really need DRM? Are you willing to make the privacy-related sacrifices neccesary to attain the benefits supposedly only attained through DRM?
  • by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:49PM (#9045364)
    I have bought CDs for all music I listen to. I bought all DVDs I watch. I bought all computer programs I use.

    Lately, I found the copy protection on especially games gives troubles when playing the game on my computer. When that happens, I download a cracked version that works fine. For the next game that comes along which I want to play, especially from a company which gave me problems before, chances are I'll go for the cracked version immediately.

    The region encoding for DVDs doesn't give me any problems now. I have two DVD players, both of which are region free. I have heard, though, that there is a new region encoding which will cause DVDs not to work on my players. But what the hell, I have broadband and it is easy to download them, so I'll do just that.

    Music never gave me problems. But now this DRM thingy is coming along. That seems to mean I can't play CDs anymore on my computer, right? Tough. I'll have to stop buying CDs. And if the cracked version works, I know where to get it.

    It seems that I am the ideal customer of the entertainment industry. I am willing to buy everything, and I buy a lot. So the question is: what are they gaining by driving me to get stuff illegally?

  • by unixfan ( 571579 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:52PM (#9045405) Homepage
    It will be very interesting to see how far microsoft can push their users before they say Enough!

    Fortunately for me I do just fine with OpenSource and don't need or use their products.

    The real test is going to be with everyday to day users who just want to use their computer. We know DRM, etc is styfling creativity and since universities are now using a lot of OpenSource too, I see it as a race. A race between oppressive and open use. Some people and organizations stand a lot to loose/gain.

    The Internet is a great place to try to control society from as it reaches so many people. See how the psychs wants to control each kid by having access to their school computers to ensure they have the "right" attitude. They lobby to replace academic score cards with "proper" attitude. Why go to school if not to learn?

    It has already happend with the news media here in the US. It's controlled to keep americans afraid of each other. Just look at our neighboor Canada. They are very friendly and not at all afraid of each other. I dare you to compare the media. People in Europe sees everyday how one sided news are from the US.

    The Internet is the current battle ground. DRM is in that very same line of "work". It sounds kind of dooms day like, and indeed I see our freedom is being attacked. I for one will do what I can to oppose DRM and similar technologies with both my mouth and my money.
  • Security for whom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theantix ( 466036 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:05PM (#9045543) Journal
    Whenever I read about new some new security measure, I wonder if they are talking about security for me or security from me. Am I buying a lock on my front door to keep potential burglers out, or a lock on my door to keep me out? So the answer is no... I'm not interested in paying for an upgrade that prevents me from using the content I purchased. What do they think we are, stupid? Oh right, that...
  • Books etc. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fuzzums ( 250400 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:06PM (#9045555) Homepage
    My imagination...

    You buy a book, but you're not allowed to read it in public.

    You buy strawberries, but you're only allowed to eat then with yogurt brand xXx.

    You buy a MS-paper, but you're only allowed to use an MS-pencil on it.

    You have a Windows OS and you are only allowed to run Windows certified applications on it.

    And you have to pay to get a certification of course :)
  • New powers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:08PM (#9045593) Journal
    Copyright law (in the U.S.) does not give the copyright holder any say over how their work is used by an individual who legally possesses a copy. Copyright law only gives power to the copyright holder over making and distributing copies, and (where appropriate) publicly performing the work. If you legally buy a copy of a work that is available to any member of the public willing to pay, you can take that copy home and read it, listen to it, watch it, burn it (set it on fire, not burn it to a CD), wallpaper your room with it, wipe your ass with it, or whatever else you see fit. (As long as that use isn't illegal in other senses, e.g. you may not beat someone to death with it.)

    The DMCA (and now various DRM schemes) effectively give the copyright holder a right they never had before: the right to dictate how you can use that work in the privacy of your own home. Copyright law doesn't say that Disney can force you to only watch their Aladdin DVD using software that Disney has approved... but the DMCA does. Since the DVD CCA controls its DVD decryption software as a trade secret, and only licenses it to DVD player-manufacturing companies who paid them a fee, AND since (thanks to the DMCA) it is illegal for a customer to reverse-engineer that DVD player in order to find out how the decryption works and write their own software... well, you get the picture.

    The solution to this problem is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @06:24PM (#9045798)
    Well you see, as society came to rely more and more on industrial technology - a skilled and mobile workforce became essential. This was a disaster to the plantation system that relied on just the opposite to uphold slavery.

    At first the southern states tried to react to it by imposing harsher and harsher laws, to where you couldn't even legally teach a black person how to read, and slavery was made to last forever and for every generation. Then they tried to micro-regulate the industrial northern states, who eventually completely got fed up and went gung-ho anti slavery. Then they tried to react to it by fencing themselves off from the northern states and forming a seperate country, at that point all hell broke loose.

    Well now we are in the information age which demands the uninhibited flow of open information. Is it a disaster for those who rely on the copyright monopoly system. At first they tried to extend copyrights to forever, and impose insane punishments. Then they tried to microregulate everybody with the DMCA. Now they are trying to fence themselves off from the rest of the world by using DRM.

    Brace for impact, all hell is almost certainly about to break loose.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll