Major League Baseball has decided to change their DRM provider. This has been a big job for them, having to build a completely new system and transfer all their content across. There is also the problem that any company in this situation faces, how to maintain the downloads of their existing customers. The realistic options are to issue customers with new digital certificates that support the new system, or to keep the old system running for authentication of old content. These solutions both have their own costs and difficulties, particularly when there is no prospective end date for supporting these videos.
MLB have decided to use a third method, just turn off the old service. Considering that for a downloaded video to play it needs to authenticate back to MLB this action has blanked any video owned by MLB customers. When the understandably irate users have complained they have been told the videos were a “one-time sale” and if they want their videos they need to re-purchase.
The arrogance is astounding. I blogged last week about the US needing better consumer protection, there are few developed countries in the world that would let a company get away with this sort of reprehensible behavior. My strategy is, that I buy NOTHING that depends on DRM to control my fair use, which includes HD-DVD and BluRay. We can complain about DRM, but the solution is in our own hands. As soon as consumers en-mass tell companies with our wallets where they can stick their DRM, the problem goes away. My boycott has already started, and I am sure that stories like this will ensure I am not lonely.
I have made no secret of my opinion that DRM does nothing to limit illegal copying. Non-circumvention and usability are incompatible goals. What DRM does is seriously inconvenience users. The nefarious can get around whatever is there, and the honest user gets their use of the product compromised.
The copy protection on Blu Ray and HD-DVD, AACS, is the most restrictive DRM to date, and not surprisingly is starting to show the inherent compromise between protection and usability. One of the sneaky little things in AACS is the hardware specific key, if a particular piece of hardware loses its ‘certification’ as a trusted source, it can be disabled by the key update that happens every time you insert a new disk. So lets say you have an ACME brand HD-DVD5000, and it gets found to have a bug that is letting hackers use it to break codes on disks, the AACS Licensing Administrator can update the decryption keys. Anyone with an ACME 5000 who uses one of these updated discs will find their drive bricked.
Even if this is never used the presence of the code opens the door for flaky behavior which shows the fight between convenience and protection. Two Blu-ray titles have reported playback problems. On certain players they will play badly, or not play at all. This fault is due to the DRM and the solution is likely to be a firmware update for the affected players. When was the last time you had to upgrade your DVD player firmware to play the latest NetFlix delivery?
I will continue to vote with my money, and stay out of this market all together. I predict that the restrictive, complicated, expensive and flaky implementations of HD video will open the gate for a 3rd player.
Last show of the year so I do some wrap up stats and of course bring you a full line of tech with a special performance at the end of the show by my two aspiring artist here in the house.
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A TiVo Series Three Receiver was on my shopping list for this Christmas season. I have been watching the reviews of the unit and the new C|Net review of the Series III that I saw today makes me wonder if I should take the unit off my wish list.
We all have learned to hate DRM, and we all hate devices that are overzealous in enforcing DRM. It seems TiVo has got DRM fever and is running scared from the studio’s. Additionally I am not real happy with devices that make you revert to old school techniques to archive programming. Check out these two depressing quotes from the review.
“the only way to archive your TiVo Series3 recordings is the old-fashioned way: dump them to a video recorder in real time.”
“Once again, though, overzealous copy protection has taken something simple and turned it into a Sisyphean ordeal. All we wanted to do was watch TV, and connect our gear with a minimum of cables and wires. Thanks to DRM, that simple task becomes more difficult all the time.”
Once you read the linked review and determin where they had specific hardware connectivity issues you may be inclined as I am to not to move forward with a purchase of this unit. I have said it once and I will say it again because it is worth repeating. The manufactures and their willingness to roll over on consumers will be the ultimate demise of fair use. They will wait till our legacy systems wear out and then kill functionality with new products.
It is obvious that DRM is halting innovation and the ability to re-utilize media that is legally yours to record and enjoy. [Cnet.com]
Well if the headline isn’t enough to make fresh milk sour, I don’t know what will. It seems the newest commissioner at the FCC loves DRM and is going to make it her mission to get on a pulpit and use her position to promote DRM. In case you were saying how can she do that, well a lot of other people are asking that as well. If she follows through she will be abusing her position, and should be forced out of the position.
Be sure to send her an e-mail and let her know what you think. [FCC] [Techdirt]
It’s been a long time since I say as many people get as mad as they have about Sony. Their brand is now forever tarnished and if they don’t start firing people and making liberal financial compensation to those that have been effected by their sheer ignorance and greed.
The problem remains that most of the people affected don’t know it yet and that is the ticking time bomb that has crackers, hackers, exploiters and script kiddies jumping up and down in joy. Every senior management official is missing in action.
I called Sony sales today and worked my way into talking to some 3rd level supervisor and I asked her where I was supposed to send the bill for the fixing of my wife’s computer that they jacked up. She was pretty pissy on the phone and hung up on me. Thats ok I will be sending a registered mail letter to their corporate offices with the invoice lets see if they pay it! [Dan Gillmor]
This without saying it convinces me to never every buy another CD from Sony ever again. I love music and buy Albums of groups that I like. But until their is some law on the books that prevent companies from installing spyware, rootkits and any other DRM technology I am not buying another CD.
Sony I am also am placing a five year ban on buying any of your electronic components and music. The Sony Laptop that needs repair will be fixed and given to charity. My wife is Japanese so she is not going to be happy about this but I am not going to buy your products plain and simple.
Your failure to step up and reveal to the world that you have done wrong is without comprehension, I am going to show you how pissed I am with my wallet. For five years I will not buy any of your signed artist music, any company that tries such actions such as Sony will also incur my five year ban on buying any of your products. [Sony Rootkit calling home and much more]