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July 27, 2005
How Microsoft Is Selling Out the Public to Please Hollywood
Bob Frankston has some hard words for Microsoft in the DRM essay linked below (emphasis, mine):
Something is very wrong. While Microsoft may consider itself only helping out by providing facilities to aid and abet such stifling control they are doing damage by thwarting the dynamics of the marketplace. Sadly, both Microsoft and Intel seem to be determined to undermine Moore's law by saddling it with fatal complexity in the hope of insuring their incumbency and the incumbency of other industries that are past their prime. ...
Microsoft is going to prevent what they call "hardware attacks" (as well as "software attacks") on premium content. Such attacks include what others call fair use. My attempt to watch content on my own screen is an example of just such as "hardware attack."
Over @ Deep Links, Seth Schoen
, EFF's trusted computing
guru, has just completed a four-part series on Microsoft's security and lockware strategy. His latest post, Microsoft Sells Out the Public on CGMS-A
, explores how the company is collaborating with Hollywood to keep "attackers" from exercising their fair-use rights (emphasis, mine):
For years, Hollywood has responded to criticism of the effects of digital rights management (DRM) on fair use by suggesting that the public can still use analog outputs to make (possibly lower-quality) copies of works for fair use purposes. Because of the prospect of using analog outputs in this way, say studios, lawful personal copying is not completely eliminated by DRM. Even as they made this argument, however, the studios pursued a campaign to restrict such recording by characterizing it as a "loophole" -- the so-called "analog hole" or "analog reconversation problem." The same recording techniques that movie studios hailed as the protection for fair use were also stigmatized as an intolerable escape from the supposedly perfectly controlled world of DRM. ...
CGMS-A compliance is one of Hollywood's top priorities. A lack of transparency in the copyright industry's negotiations with technology companies makes it unclear precisely what sorts of threats and incentives are winning the technologists over. Yet these negotiations appear to be accomplishing what Congress declined to do: making devices that obey CGMS-A ubiquitous, arranging for recording equipment to comply with the studios' and broadcasters' copying policy preferences, even to the point of refusing to record certain programming at all. Once again, this outcome is not the law; it is simply the technologists' decision to side with the studios against end users.
For a more comprehensive view of what it really means for Microsoft to forge an "alliance
" with Hollywood, check out Seth's previous three posts:
- Microsoft Trusted Computing Updates: "Microsoft's NGSCB project, although delayed, remains troubling because of its ability to strengthen DRM-like applications and facilitate software lock-in."
- The Dangers of Device Authentication: "Major hardware vendors are now taking giant steps toward several sorts of device authentication. These steps ultimately threaten...PC users' interests.... Why would hardware vendors do this? One major source of motivation for device authentication is Microsoft's Protected Media Path (PMP) project, a successor to the Secure Audio Path (SAP)."
- Protected Media Path, Component Revocation, Windows Driver Lockdown: "In the near future, when you try to install software to time-shift your favorite Real Audio webcast, your PC might disable all media player applications. Until you remove the software, your PC will remain crippled. Or perhaps you want to watch a downloaded movie on a wide-screen TV, but your PC might turn off its video card's analog output. Welcome to the world of Windows Longhorn (now known as Vista) and the Protected Media Path, where Microsoft, copyright holders, and DRM licensors may grant or revoke permission to use your own computer and digital media."
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