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AUTHORS

Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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Elizabeth Rader
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Jason Schultz
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Wendy Seltzer
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Aaron Swartz
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Alan Wexelblat
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

COPYFIGHTERS
a Typical Joe
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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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June 25, 2007

Microsoft, Virtualization, and... DRM?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Why won't Microsoft allow home/end-user versions of Vista to be virtualized (run in a simulator such as EMC's VMware)? Mostly this is a theoretical argument not related to Copyfight, but on Sunday Eric Lai published a column for Computerworld in which he suggests that the reason is that virtual environments may permit people to circumvent Vista's DRM.

You may recall that Vista contains the first commercial incarnation of MSFT's built-in control facility for restricting what programs and data can be installed and run on PCs. Virtual machines can unintentionally fool, block, or thwart various of the checks that DRM software uses. Lai references unnamed "analysts" to suggest that concerns over DRM circumvention were behind Microsoft's sudden change of heart. Apparently they were about to relax the prohibition on virtualizing Vista Home editions then suddenly stopped.

Not so fast, says Ken Fisher over at ars technica. He lists a couple of reasons why he doesn't believe Lai's theory, not least of which is that there's no technical reason blocking virtualization now. It's purely a license-terms issue.

Fisher thinks it's a step in the Microsoft-Apple war, with MSFT trying to defend its OS revenue stream. Could be. I do think Fisher's points are telling, to the extent that those of us who care about DRM and what Microsoft are doing in that area can safely ignore the virtualization debate.

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