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Zune Won't Play Old DRM Infected Files 463

Spritzer writes "According to the EFF, the new Zune portable media player from Microsoft won't play files infected with the old Microsoft DRM. It seems that all of the 'PlaysforSure' media that has been sold and is currently being sold will not play on the Zune. In addition, Microsoft has now advocated violating the DMCA in order to transfer files to the player. Microsoft Zune architect J Allard was quoted as saying there's 'Lots of DVD ripping software out there that encodes to those formats, so the most popular formats out there, whether it's MPEG-4 or H.264, we'll support those.'" ZDNet offers up additional commentary on this revelation.
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Zune Won't Play Old DRM Infected Files

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  • PlaysForSure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:30AM (#16137604) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that if you create a format called "PlaysForSure", it should actually "Play for Sure". OTherwise your customers might - oh, I don't know - lose confidence in your ability to compete in the market? Instead, they'll go to a certain competitor that does "Play for Sure" despite not advertising such?

    It's almost as if Microsoft is reading Slashdot. Their new business plan is:

    1. Create a format called "PlaysForSure"
    2. Make certain that it doesn't "Play for Sure"
    3. Cede 95% of the market to Apple
    4. ???
    5. PROFIT!
  • PlaysForSure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by byolinux ( 535260 ) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:31AM (#16137607) Journal
    This is kinda dumb.. but I don't think this is something that Microsoft is alone in. This is just an example of the problems with Digital Restrictions Management. We'll see a lot more of this to come.
  • Hold up a sec (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spacedx ( 458227 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:32AM (#16137620)
    How about everyone not flip out about the specs on an unreleased product?
  • by jeffs72 ( 711141 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:34AM (#16137630) Journal
    I guess this is Microsoft wanting to get their player popular, but to have a public company say "Sure, violate DRM" is sort of flabberghasting, especially coming from Microsoft.

    Think of the liability this opens them up to, didn't edonkey get shut down for enabling those evil hackers from trading music and movies?

    Hopefully this will point to a market trend, an admission that copyrights are out of control to a large degree. I hate buying music from Itunes because of all the stupid license rules associated with it. It'd be nice to just be allowed to buy some .mp3 files and do with them as I feel. I don't even need a lossless format, my damaged ears can't tell the difference anyway.

  • Re:PlaysForSure? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:36AM (#16137645) Journal
    Instead, they'll go to a certain competitor that does "Play for Sure" despite not advertising such?
    The only competators I can think of for that is "plays for sure but only in restrictive circumstances".
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:38AM (#16137657) Homepage Journal
    I know most of you don't like DRM, but it's not infecting files. It's not a virus/trojan/whatever.

    It's a lock. A digital lock. Call it Digital Restrictions Management if you must (since it stills describe what it does), but not infection.

    The general public already has their hands full trying to understand all this technological mumbo-jumbo. Let's not spread more FUD.

  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:40AM (#16137669)
    I assume the Zune will not be stamped with the PlaysforSure logo, certifying that it is able to play those tracks. This does not compromise the validity of PlaysForSure at all -- that is merely a way for consumers to know where their media will be playable (ie which portable media players they can buy). There was no guarantee, explicit or otherwise, that these songs would play forever - only that they would play on devices that were certified PlaysForSure compatible (of which, apparently, Zune is not one).

    This suggests to me that there haven't been many PlaysForSure track purchases. I suspect most people who play DRM'd WMA files subscribe to unlimited services like Yahoo Unlimited. I am such a person, and I have yet to purchase a "burnable" track.
  • no contradiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:42AM (#16137681)
    It's a common theme that companies and governments want you to do things that are illegal. In fact, arguably, a lot of legislation is aimed at making things illegal that many people will be doing anyway (and, in some cases, don't have a choice): traffic laws, drug laws, decency laws, copyright laws, etc. Those sorts of laws are useful tools for selective enforcement, stronger contract negotiation positions, barriers to entry, and differential pricing.

    Microsoft like DRM and the DMCA because it gives them the ability to implement differential pricing, erect bariers to entry, and have stronger negotiating positions; and they like DRM-breaking software because it makes their devices more useful. There is no contradiction in their behavior.

    Of course, there is a contradiction tp their stated justifications for DRM, and it is important to bring this up prominently whenever Congress reconsiders DRM-related legislation.
  • by crazyjeremy ( 857410 ) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:42AM (#16137686) Homepage Journal
    Why again do people still buy hardware with DRM at all? There are still plenty of products from the States and other countries which do not have these limitations.
  • by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:43AM (#16137692) Homepage
    Actually, this Zune POS makes it exactly that. It silently infects every file on the device with DRM.
  • Re:Hold up a sec (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:44AM (#16137702)
    How about everyone not flip out about the specs on an unreleased product?

    Yeah - they should give their hard earned money to the manufacturer before complaining that it's not something they want or would buy.
  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:44AM (#16137705)
    Cry bias all you want, but Zune's lack of ability to play PlaysForSure content is completely preposterous. This is the absolute, objective truth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:46AM (#16137719)
    I hate buying music from Itunes because of all the stupid license rules associated with it.

    Then don't do it. Even if you dislike doing it, each time you purchase tainted music files you're giving a show of support for DRM. Not only that, but it's financial support you're offering, which is perhaps the worst kind, as it directly allows for their deviant behavior to continue.

    We know that DRM-encumbered media has many disadvantages. This Zune nonsense is a perfect example of that. So the best thing to do is to stop buying music from iTunes. Don't start buying music from whatever service Microsoft might offer. Don't buy CDs. Don't download MP3s.

    What you should do is get involved with your local music scene. Get to know the bands and artists in your area, or the nearest city. Many times they're far more deserving of your financial support than the multimillionaire fucks in California, and their music is often so much better! Not only that, but you can interact with them personally, and possibly even collaborate with them to some extent (if you're a musician yourself). The best part of it all is that you're getting to listen to some decent music, and you're not supporting corrupt companies and DRM, but rather you're supporting your neighbors.

  • Re:PlaysForSure? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:47AM (#16137723) Homepage Journal

    Consumers should lose a lot of faith in MS' DRM and proprietary formats when Allard says '[...] the most popular formats out there, whether it's MPEG-4 or H.264, we'll support those.'
  • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:47AM (#16137728) Journal
    If you buy aggressively DRM'd media, they'll find yourself having to buy it again, break the law, or go without when it stops working years later.
  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) * <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:51AM (#16137746) Homepage
    Honestly, I think DRM *IS* an infection from the very start.

    Ok, so we have systems that work. They do what the user wants. Its a pretty healthy system overall.

    DRM comes in pretending to be something that the user wants. It is a trojan horse, a virus. It is brought in, under the disguise of something that helps the system. Then, when it strikes, like this, it does nothing but hurt the system. It doesn't help the user, it hurts the user.

    Like a virus, it turns the users own system against the user. It makes the system do what DRM owners (the viruses source) want. It is an infection that only works because it is becoming ubiquitous.

    DRM is the classic slippery slope. If we accept the infection, if we don't fight it tooth and nail, then down the road when it really is in everthing, we will have turned over all control to the big boys who control the DRM.

    It is a viral infection of the worst sort. It deserves to be described as such. This IS the battle for hearts and minds, and the enemy is not at all shy about casting precious freedom in their own jaundiced light. I say its time to call a spade a spade. This is infection.

    This is the first symptom of the infection. Definitly past time to start treating this disease.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:56AM (#16137776)
    ...then shut the door again 'til you're sure the other one's dead, too.
  • by wingfoot ( 769619 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @10:58AM (#16137796) Homepage
    This is exactly why I still buy CD's. I have control over my music (when there isn't a rootkit on the CD of course). I can do what I want with it. I can rip it into unlimited types of formats...and its all DRM free. Plus, I have a backup in case something happens to the files. A new, cool, small footprint, lossless format is devised? Just re-rip the CD and press onward.
  • Re:PlaysForSure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#16137814) Homepage
    lose confidence in your ability to compete in the market? Instead, they'll go to a certain competitor that does "Play for Sure" Apple


    A blatant demonstration of exactly why DRM is an extaordinarily bad deal for the user, and the answer you reach is, "People will switch to the other mass market DRM"?

    Wow. The worst part is, assuming any of the unwashed masses even notice, you're probably right.
  • Is It Just Me? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:03AM (#16137819)
    I had a look at the article and it seems to base the supposition that Zune won't support PlayForSure content on it not being explicitly mentioned in the footnotes of a press release. Given that Microsoft isn't totally stupid, I'm guessing that this is an oversight in the release, rather than a very subtle admission that zune won't be compatible with their own technology.
  • by jeffs72 ( 711141 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:06AM (#16137835) Journal
    The only problem I have with buying CD's is that a portion of the funds go to pay for the RIAA, new copy protection schemes, and companies that used to put out good music but now produce garbage. I don't really feel like I should have to contribute to the legal quagmire that copyrights has become just because I'm missing a Beatles track I like.
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:12AM (#16137874) Journal
    From the Article: Buried in footnote 4 of its press release, Microsoft clearly states that "Zune software can import audio files in unprotected WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, H.264" -- protected WMA and WMV (not to mention iTunes DRMed AAC) are conspicuously absent.

    In other words they are drawing conclusions from two missing entries that may turn out to be typos or may be missing for a reason other than compatibility. Just another FUD-laden EFF article.
  • Re:Shut up losers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XzQuala ( 950050 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:18AM (#16137910)
    Where the hell is my damn -1 WRONG modifier? ANY attempt to circumvent the WEAKEST of encryption (css ispretty freaking weak) without the consent of the copyright holder is a criminal offense in the USA. And just to make matters totally STUPID, its a felony to boot. Thank you DMCA.
  • Re:DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rackhamh ( 217889 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:21AM (#16137937)
    ha ha, you should have replied as AC... *ouch*

    I'd rather speak for myself, even if it means getting modded down by people with nothing better to do.
  • Re:DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by InsaneProcessor ( 869563 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:41AM (#16138115)
    All of my files "play for sure". I do not have any problems with incompatibility. I have no DRM in any files. If I have to buy it with DRM, that is removed first, then I have "play for sure"

    Buy the CD - RIP - Play for sure EVERYWHERE for EVERYONE!
  • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sukotto ( 122876 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:50AM (#16138189)
    I don't think the people who make the laws care about the consumers very much. I suspect they care more about the large companies and lobbyists that donate money and perks.
  • by ecki ( 115356 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:14PM (#16138392)
    I suggest you read the interview [] with Allard closely. He specifically stresses the point that Zune and P4S are separate worlds, and while he would have had the opportunity to point out any interoperability options at various points in the interview, he doesn't do so. I find it hard to come to any other conclusion that the approaches are indeed incompatible.
  • Re:DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Beyond_GoodandEvil ( 769135 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:24PM (#16138482) Homepage
    The entitlement disease is rampant on Slashdot...

    You mean like the taxes on blank media, so that no matter how such media is used I still get paid? Oh, I see now.
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:38PM (#16138599) Homepage Journal
    It's _marketing_. If they had the ability to make contact with reality, they'd be in engineering.

  • by skiingyac ( 262641 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:53PM (#16138719)
    the DMCA does not have a fair use exemption. If it did, I don't think anyone would care about the DMCA, and people like the guy who was arrested for making an Acrobat reader for blind people, etc. would not have been bothered.

    If it is indeed allowed to do this, then where is the LEGAL software to do things that are "fair use" with DRM'd data? It doesn't exist.
  • Re:It's a trap! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by protohiro1 ( 590732 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:10PM (#16138870) Homepage Journal
    I think they are totally dumb. Seriously, I don't think this is a conspiracy. This is a total fuck up caused by a slow response and now a desperate attempt to catch up with apple. MS changed their strategy from trying to license a music format to other hardware makers (the windows technique) to wanting to have an end to end solution like ipod/itunes. Now they look like assholes and this product is just no going to sell. Or, it will sell as well as MediaCenter or whatever other lifestyle product that they are demoing this month. So far microsoft can't seem to move consumer electronics. (excepting the xbox, which may have sold well, but it could hardly be called a profit center) With Apple microsoft is in the unenviable position of chasing after someone else with a de facto monopoly in the space. Apple floundered in the 90s trying to convince people their product was just as good or better as Microsoft/dell's, but its hard to chase someone that has that kind of market dominence. Microsoft is now facing people who are vendor-locked into ipod, high market penetration and the kind of brand awarence marketing people kill for. No matter how great the Zune is they have to fight being known as the "microsoft ipod" which isn't where you want your product to be.

    My question about this is why, exactly, is microsoft even wasting their time on this? Who cares if apple sells a lot of ipods? It doesn't hurt Microsoft's bottom line. Most ipod users run windows on the desktop.
  • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:17PM (#16138903)
    I'd mod that insightful, if it weren't so painfully obviously true.
  • by dlim ( 928138 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:19PM (#16138920) Journal
    I think the point was that they are a legitimate distributor that "plays for sure", since they distribute mp3s without DRM. But I must question your "spy/adware" comment...

    First of all, there is a difference, between spyware [] and adware [].

    Secondly, I've been using their service for almost a year and have never had adware pushed on me. Frankly, the first site's description [] of the adware looked like shortcuts to sign up for their services. "Desktop and start menu links"? Come on...

    I'm not even sure how accurate this information is. It was last updated almost a year ago. I do have an option to uninstall the eMusic download manager. And if you're concerned about your personal information being shared you can opt out []. Most people do not seem to have a problem with is, as eMusic is the second largest legitimate download service [].

    Also, how do they "push" these files to you? Based on the links you provided it sounds more like Winamp [] and other free software are bundling these shortcuts to help support their business.

    I will say that I hate spyware, adware, and malware as much as the next guy, but it sounds like you're mostly spreading FUD here. I like eMusic and haven't had any problems with adware from them. Do you work for Apple?
  • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:23PM (#16138950)
    You are not entitled to DRM-free content.

    Oh I'm not, eh? Tell me then, what gives content providers the "right" to use DRM?

    It sure as Hell isn't copyright law, because that exists in order to enlarge the Public Domain, for the benefit of the public!

    There's a common misconception that information "belongs" to whoever thinks it up. The fact is, though, that it doesn't. It never has. Copyright law in the United States -- until recently -- reflected this, from the Constitution on down. It's only been after extensive lobbying by the RIAA etc. over the past few decades that opinion has changed. I can only hope it changes back before we all forget that we're the ones with an inherent right to our culture and become "information serfs!"

  • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by indifferent children ( 842621 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:30PM (#16139009)
    You are not entitled to pay the raw cost of blank media.

    You missed the point. Apparently, in some jurisdictions, media companies are entitled to a chunk of my money, when I buy CDRs to back-up my data. In other words, anything that you can bribe/bully your legislators into, becomes an entitilement. If we can get the laws changed, to outlaw DRM, then we will be 'entitled' to DRM-free content.

  • by itscolduphere ( 933449 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @01:34PM (#16139032)
    If it is indeed allowed to do this, then where is the LEGAL software to do things that are "fair use" with DRM'd data? It doesn't exist.
    RTFL. It does indeed make an exception for circumvention for the purposes of fair use. However, this only applies to the actual person doing doing the circumvention. The distribution of tools to circumvent copyright protection technology is still illegal. So, going back to the circumvention of Adobe's DRM in Acrobat for use by the blind, none of the blind people using it (assuming they had legally obtained the copyrighted works in question) were breaking the law...only the person who gave them the software.

    By this same reasoning, there is nothing illegal about circumventing CSS to rip a DVD you own to your iPod. However, you are expected to write your own tool to do so; nobody else is allowed to distribute it to you.

    Yes, it's silly. But assuming you manage to get a program such as decss in your possession (which somebody will have to break the law to make happen), you can rip DVD's you own all day long without breaking the law.

    As a disclaimer, IANAL. But, unlike a majority of the people I hear talking about the DMCA, I have actually at least read the law.
  • Re:DRM (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:07PM (#16139293)
    Free free to head south of Mexico then, and please take the rest of Slashdot with you.

    Your post is nothing but socialist tripe. You're not entitled to media at all, nor should you be. It's not a necessity so if you don't like what's being offered, you're perfectly free not to buy it and to use your money on something else.

    Some of us still act like responsible consumers - I know responsibility is something of a four letter word here on Slashdot, though. I buy MAYBE one CD a year because, frankly, the content is poor, they're expensive, and I'm tired of buying CDs I can't easily rip at home and at work so I can keep the disc in the car.

    That's called "voting with your dollars". I'm not so incredibly self-absorbed as to think that just because I chose to vote in that particular manner that everyone should, or that I should lean on uncle sam to enforce my will where, obviously, the majority of buyers don't agree with me or simply have no opinion.

    If you don't like the media, don't buy it. You're not entitled to it, you shouldn't be entitled to it, and I'll never support the notion that freedom - it's still freedom even if it's not MY freedom - should be abridged just because YOU don't like the way the content is distributed.
  • Re:DRM (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:42PM (#16139578)
    I'm an artist who'd like to get paid for his work and I think that whatever it is that you do for a living should be given away for free.

    I fail to see what could go wrong with this arrangement.
  • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taevin ( 850923 ) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:48PM (#16140194)
    Obviously you share the misconception mrchaotica was referring to. As human beings we possess all rights. Just as you have the right to produce something, I have the right to take that work and do whatever I want with it. Obviously, that concept has serious implications and is hard to stomach for most people. Thus, we have society, the rules of which are intended to improve life for all who participate in it. We temporarily forfeit our right to the work of others in the hope that it will encourage them to produce more, further enhancing society. The relevant section of Article I Section 8 of the Constitution:
    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
    The key word there is "securing." We've given the government the power to secure the work of authors and inventors from ourselves. The second important phrase is "limited times" which is where most of us "entitlement", free-software-loving, driving-poor-ol'-Rowling-into-poverty evil "pirates" have our problem. The "limited time" is rapidly becoming not-so-limited. It's currently at some ridiculous number of years after the person who is supposed to be benefiting from the protection has already died. That seems to me to be fairly contradictory to the original goal of the clause: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts." Beyond that, there is also the DMCA which eliminates many of the rights we have specifically protected from copyright law (see Sections 107-122 of Title 17 of the United States Code).

    I agree with and support the original idea codified in the Constitution; that we should give authors a limited period were they can exclusively benefit from their work because I believe it does encourage them to produce more. I also try to pay for free software as often as possible because I appreciate the author's hard work and want to encourage them to continue. I'm not asking to get free stuff. All I'm demanding is to retain my rights as a human being and United States citizen.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.