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How DRM Won 221

Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2009, when Apple dropped the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions from songs sold through the iTunes Store, it seemed like a huge victory for consumers, one that would usher in a more customer-friendly economy for digital media. But four years later, DRM is still alive and well — it just lives in the cloud now. Streaming media services are the ultimate form of copy protection — you never actually control the media files, which are encrypted before delivery, and your ability to access the content can be revoked if you disagree with updated terms of service; you're also subject to arbitrary changes in subscription prices. This should be a nightmare scenario to lovers of music, film, and television, but it's somehow being hailed by many as a technical revolution. Unfortunately, what's often being lost in the hype over the admittedly remarkable convenience of streaming media services is the simple fact that meaningfully relating to the creative arts as a fan or consumer depends on being able to access the material in the first place. In other words, where your media collection is stored (and can be remotely disabled at a whim) is not something to be taken lightly. In this essay, developer Vijith Assar talks about how the popularity of streaming content could result in a future that isn't all that great. 'Ultimately, regardless of the delivery mechanism, the question is not one of streaming versus downloads,' he writes. 'It's about whether you want to have your own media library or request access to somebody else's. Be careful.'"

Apple Buys Lala Music Streaming, But Why? 131

Apple has snapped up music streaming biz Lala in what many initially thought to be a move to step beyond the strict download market of iTunes. On closer inspection it seems that Lala was a somewhat less-than-ideal target and Apple may just be gunning for ready-made engineering talent. "On balance, the purchase appears to give Apple the chance to bring in engineers that will be useful now, and could be even more so if it chooses to enter streaming or subscription services. But, for the moment, there's nothing about the purchase that seems to provide the company with any key technologies it was missing in terms of diving into markets. Until another company demonstrates that there's money to be made (or iPods to be sold) through streaming, there's no reason to think that a move of this sort is imminent."

Streaming Video Service Coming To the Wii 103

Gamasutra reports that Nintendo is partnering with a company called Dentsu to "distribute original streaming video programming via the Wii, with a 2009 launch confirmed in Japan, and an eye towards a later Western launch." According to a press statement, some of the videos will be free, and some will cost money. This will help to answer concerns that the Wii was lagging behind the other major consoles in video content.

How Important Is Protecting Streaming Media? 182

spaj writes "In the ongoing battle with the MPAA and RIAA, there seems to be an ongoing argument about who is to blame. If you leave a $20 bill on the sidewalk, can you report it stolen when someone takes it? Of course you can, but will you be taken seriously by the authorities? When my car was broken into, I was told by the responding police officer that I might have prevented it by keeping my seats and visible areas clear of junk that would entice criminals. So, who is at fault when it comes to users abusing their right to capture streaming media for personal use? According to's Legal FAQ, the RIAA will not come after you if you make a recording for your own personal use. I have often been torn on this issue, and I am looking for input. Adobe recently released a new format of their widely used streaming protocol, RTMP, that includes 128-bit encryption (RTMPE). I can only interpret this as an attempt to prevent capturing of the streaming media content for personal use. However, Applian has already circumvented the RTMPE protection, and you can read about it on Adobe's forums, where some users seem quite dissatisfied that their content is not protected enough by Adobe's technology. I think the main question boils down to: Who is to blame? Can you blame Adobe for not making a better encryption? Or do you blame Applian for bypassing such security features? Or do you blame the authors of stolen content for leaving the security of their material in somebody else's hands?"

Amazon To Launch New Streaming Video Service 51

The New York Times reports that Amazon has begun a limited testing of its new Video on Demand service, which will replace its Unbox store. The significant difference between the two is that the new service will stream movies through your browser rather than requiring you to download them and use Amazon's video player. Users will also retain access to movies and shows they're previously purchased. The service is not expected to be particularly profitable; Amazon is most likely looking to the future.

Is Streaming Video the Real Throttling Target? 190

snydeq writes "Responding to legal pressure over its throttling of P2P traffic and other dubious practices, Comcast says it will now punish the most abusive users rather than particular applications. Yet its pilot tests in Pennsylvania and Virgina, which would 'delay traffic for the heaviest users of Internet data without targeting specific software applications,' raise greater concerns over net neutrality, ones that belie a potential preemptive strike against the cable company's chief future competition: streaming video. 'Despite the industry's constant invocation of the P2P bogeyman, at present, the largest bandwidth hog is actually streaming video,' writes Mehan Jayasuriya at Public Knowledge. 'Clearly, the emergence of online video is something that cable video providers find very threatening and by capping off bandwidth usage, they're effectively killing two birds with one stone; discouraging users from using their Internet connections for video while increasing the efficiency of the network. Is this anti-competitive? It sure seems like it.'"

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