The DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music | Opensource.com

The DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music

Posted 03 Nov 2011 by 

Ruth Suehle (Red Hat)
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The DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music
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There are more than a few reasons digital rights management (DRM) has been largely unsuccessful. But the easiest way to explain to a consumer why DRM doesn't work is to put it in terms he understands: "What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?" It was one thing when it was a theoretical question. Now it's a historical one. Rhapsody just had the next in a line of DRM music services to go--this week the company told its users than anyone with RAX files has unil November 7 to back them up in another format or lose them the next time they upgrade their systems.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation summarizes the battle:

Corporations claim that DRM is necessary to fight copyright infringement online and keep consumers safe from viruses. But there's no evidence that DRM helps fight either of those. Instead DRM helps big business stifle innovation and competition by making it easy to quash "unauthorized" uses of media and technology.

Unfortunately, the side effect in this less-than-successful attempt to fight piracy is the hours it takes users to retrieve, rip, and back up their music when a services shuts down, is sold, or simply decides DRM wasn't the right way to go (sometimes in as little as five months). The following is a brief history of the rise and fall of DRM in music services.

October 1998
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes DRM circumvention and circumvention tools illegal.

December 2001
Rhapsody unlimited music streaming subscription service launches with songs restricted by the company's Helix DRM.

October 2001
"Beale Screamer" cracks the Microsoft Windows Media DRM and posts a how-to on the sci-crypt Usenet board along with code for stripping the DRM from Windows Media files. In his message, he writes to music companies, "Give us more options, not fewer. If you try to take away our current rights, and dictate to us what we may or may not do, you're going to get a lot of resistance." To users he writes, "Please respect the uses I have intended this software for. I want to make a point with this software, and if you use it for purposes of violating copyrights, the message stands a very good chance of getting lost."

May 2002
Shuman Ghosemajumder proposes the Open Music Model, which states that subscription services free of DRM are the only successful model to beat piracy. It requires open file sharing, open file formats, open membership, open payment, and open competition.

April 21, 2003
RealNetworks (known for RealAudio, RealVideo and RealPlayer) acquires Listen.com, owner of Rhapsody and offers streaming downloads for a monthly fee.

April 28, 2003
One week later, the iTunes store launches with its songs encrypted with FairPlay DRM. It restricts users to accessing songs from only three (later five) computers and making no more than ten (later seven) copies of a CD playlist.  Apple does not license its encryption, so only Apple devices can play iTunes music.

November 2003
FairPlay is cracked by Jon Lech Johansen ("DVD Jon"), previously known for his part in the DeCSS software, which was released four years earlier for decrypting DVDs.

January 2004
RealNetworks announces sale of DRM-restricted music in the RealPlayer Music Store.

August 2004
Microsoft begins certifying devices and providers with the PlaysForSure mark, noting that they had been tested and certified for compatibility with files encrypted with Windows Media DRM.

February 2005
Yahoo! Music offers unlimited music as a rebrand of LAUNCH Media at the Open Music Model's recommended $5 subscription price point, but using DRM.

October/November 2005
Consumers of Sony CDs discover the Sony rootkit in its SecuROM DRM. Removing it leaves some forced to reinstall Windows. Sony settles in December. (Read a timeline of the Sony rootkit story.)

July 2006
The eMusic subscription service, which sells songs DRM-free, becomes the second-largest digital music service, though with an 11% market share to iTunes' 67%.

September 2006
Steve Jobs announces that Apple has 88% of the legal US music download market--still locked under DRM.

November 2006
Microsoft abandons the PlaysForSure strategy in favor of a more Apple-esque approach with the Zune player tightly tied to the Zune Marketplace. PlaysForSure music will not play on the Zune.

February 2007
Steve Jobs writes in "Thoughts on Music" that it is the music companies who force Apple to use DRM in iTunes contracts, and he calls on them to relax the demand. "DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy," he writes.

April 2007
EMI's music library becomes available DRM-free on iTunes for a premium charge through "iTunes Plus."

May 2007
Amazon announces it will sell DRM-free music for 99 cents/song. Shortly thereafter, Apple drops the DRM-free premium price.

Customers soon discover that each of these tracks downloaded from iTunes--even the new, DRM-free ones--has the user's personal information embedded.

August 2007
Wal-Mart begins offering DRM-restricted mp3 downloads.

Nokia Music Stoore launches to provide Nokia phones with an on-phone music store using DRM that allowed music to be played only on the phone.

February 2008
Wal-Mart decides to offer only DRM-free mp3s.

April 2008
Apple becomes the largest music seller in the US, followed by Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

March 2008
Microsoft announces that the MSN Music Store will no longer be supported and users will not be able to play their songs on any computer they do not authorize by August 31--songs definitely no longer "play for sure."

June 2008
Microsoft responds to customer outrage and agrees that MSN Music Store songs will continue to be transferrable through the end of 2011.

September 2008
Yahoo! Music Unlimited shuts down and merges into Rhapsody. It encourages users to burn their music to CDs by the end of the month, as the move to Rhapsody does not include the continued ability to access license keys for purchased music.

Wal-Mart decides to shut down its DRM system, ending support for protected files from the five months when they chose to use it.

January 2009
Apple agrees with the four major music companies that all music sold via iTunes will be sold DRM-free.

April 2009
Apple announces availability of DRM-free versions of all music in the iTunes store (but keeps it on video, audiobooks, and apps).

April 2010
Rhapsody spins off from RealNetworks.

September 2010
Nokia Music Store (Ovi Music) decides to go DRM-free.

November 2011
Rhapsody tells its users that anyone with its older RAX format files has unil November 7 to back them up in another format or lose them the next time they upgrade their systems.

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47 Comments

stites
Open Source Champion

There is a new BIOS standard evolving which is called UEFI. Microsoft is trying to get the hardware manufacturers to include a "secure boot" feature whereby a computer can only run the OS first installed and never be switched to a different OS.

I predict that if Windows 8 machines ship with UEFI's secure boot enabled that the history of secure boot will look like a sped up version of the history of DRM as described by Ruth Suehle. As the cracking and counter measure battle over secure boot unfolds Microsoft will leave many Windows 8 users stranded with unusable Windows 8 operating systems that they have already paid for. At the same time second hand cracked machines will sell for more than second hand uncracked machines. Second hand machines that have been subjected to Microsoft's counter measures will be worthless.

Any bets on which country first produces "UEFI Maria"?

-----------------------------------
Steve Stites

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suehle
Open Sourcerer

In a way, we've already seen that happen with gaming consoles. For a while, there was a slight premium secondhand market for modded Xbox 360s. Then Microsoft started banning users with modded boxes from XBox Live, and suddenly you could pick up a modded Xbox pretty cheap on craigslist.

Unfortunately I don't think that what's happening with Windows is going to matter to most users who purchase a machine and never try to muck with the OS. It will, however, send Linux users and other DIY folks away from the big hardware vendors and over to those who sell boxes meant for or pre-installed with Linux. Could be a boost in business for people like ZaReason and System76.

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Misa

The reason for the premium on modded consoles was because they play pirated content. no less than 1000 of these systems show up daily on eBay and are considered easy low-hanging-fruit to ban users for.

Microsoft hasn't completely closed the DRM door on the Xbox360 however, as users still pirate software, they just don't use their modded console online. JTAG hacking is still a problem and xbox live leaderboards are still completely useless.

This will never be solved as the problem exists on every game with leaderboards (including STEAM games,) cheats just proxy the connection and change the data without having to modify the system they are playing on.

Basically the pro-DRM argument is as follows:
- Anti-piracy
At this point I don't see why game developers even bother to produce physical media. They can easier control the piracy level by having the games only downloadable from their own servers or as the master seed in a torrent. Movie studios and Music publishers can learn from this.
- Anti-cheating/modding
Any game with an online component needs to have the entire chain protected to protect the integrity of the multiplayer game environment. Nobody wants to compete with cheating players when they know they can't beat them legitimately.

Both points are largely addressed by "Freemium" content and DLC, which can't be acquired by cheating, only by spending real money by having an account with the publisher. However these games are largely made less fun when you instead end up competing with people with deeper pocketbooks. 1% of players pay for the other 99% of players who never buy anything.

The Anti-DRM argument on the other hand:
- Mostly touted by people who don't want to pay, or feel that content is overpriced for it's value. As there's no competition, there is no way to introduce market forces except by piracy. There are people who have no qualms about buying bootleg chinese-made purses, shoes and DVD's because they are cheaper, they don't care if the owner is being ripped off.
- Opensource proponents
There's actually two factions of opensource people, the louder bunch, which believe DRM will intentionally prevent the use of opensource and homebrew alternatives. However this mostly comes as a just a guise for piracy. (You'll often see the "homebrew" argument presented for mod chips, when their real agenda is piracy or cheating. Go ahead and look for Wii's and Xbox's modded and running Linux) Then there is the less vocal but more legally sound group which are the GPLv3 Licence enforcers. The GPL guys don't like DRM because of interoptability concerns primarily because of patents on DRM make them illegal to create free alternatives and free implementations to proprietary and expensive software products.

Only in very few cases does the homebrew argument add up. The WRT54G router is one of them, where the router originally runs Linux, and the GPL operating system allows it to be a much better router from third party firmware.

Part of the reason we see dirt cheap DVD players is because CSS was broken. The Chinese-made DVD players that play any region of disc undermined all the expensive region locked DVD players. Software on PC's also can play any region.

China will always undermine DRM because everything is too expensive for Chinese users.

Set the price low enough that everyone in the world can buy, and then the piracy problem on media goes away. Get rid of region locks, and the mod-chip piracy problem goes away on consoles.

You can even prevent media piracy by embracing the fans desire to share translations. The fansubbers can release free subtitles to any language video on the PC, if only it were made easy to use. iTunes and Zune could and should add a way for subtitle bolt-ons during the purchase.

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Fuzzy Eric

The ANti-DRM argument you've made is admittedly a straw man of readily discounted arguments. It is, of course, convenient to present only the weakest arguments if one intends to dismiss the position. The Anti-DRM argument (for me) is *actually*:

I play games. I've paid for my games. My favorite games are 10-20 years old. (Yeah. I know. "What do you play that on, old man? A Commodore 64?" Well, sometimes, yes; I have one right here.) It's called "having an attention span".

(1) No one promises that DRM servers are going to be around 10-20 years from now. So you can bet there won't be any analogs of me in the current population of gamers, because all of their games won't work by then.

Would I have bought (random example:) Spore? Sure would have, *if* it would have been possible to play it in 10-20 years. Since I can't, I didn't bother. Never played it. Never will.

(2) DRM in console games locks games to particular consoles. Show me where I can buy a new N64 to play games that only work there. Emulators? Sure. Let's all get together and violate the DMCA.

Just as no one promises to have DRM server up in 10 to 20 years, no one promises to keep making consoles to support current games for 10 to 20 years.

(3) I also won't waste money to buy another computer to be rootkitted by every online game service that comes along. I have a hard enough time controlling the security of my home network. (I repair other people's computers. Sometimes their security practices are less than stellar...) Intentionally adding invasive, obstreperous blobs of code to my computer would be dumb. So I don't.

Use Steam? No thanks. I don't have an additional machine to just throw away when I'm done.

To sum up...

Why do I like CDs? They'll last as long as I will. I can be certain that I can play them 'til the day I die. I don't have to rely on third parties to keep servers running, or to make hardware, or to not screw up the hardware I use to play them. (I've built a CD player from discretes. It's not as hard as one might think.)

Why do I sorta' like DVDs? They'll last as long as I will. I can probably play them until the day I die. I don' thave to rely on third parties to keep servers running. I *do* have to rely on third parties making hardware to read them because the DMCA makes it illegal for me to break the DRM that I can't individually license. So there exists government enforcement that limits my ability to make a player for this media.

Why will I never own a Blue-Ray player? I don't trust Sony to keep their DRM servers running. I don't trust Sony or their licensed publishers to not randomly decide that I no longer have access to media I own. I have to rely on Sony and others (e.g. Oracle) to continue to license DRM and other software to make working players. It is overwhelmingly likely that Blue-Ray disks will become unplayable, shiny disks during my lifetime, and paying for that is dumb.

So I *am* anti-DRM. But, ..., I *do* pay for the stuff I run. I maintain a meticulously licensed universe of software at home. Because I *actually* know about the licenses of the software I have, I'm far less likely to trust the DRMed and close-sourced stuff, for the reasons I've described above. This stuff is tools. Some of it is tools for entertainment and some of it is tools to get something done. In either case, paying for tools that require someone else's permission and continued good will to work is dumb. And I minimize the amount of this kind of dumb that I am.

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Anonymous

I think you're a huge shill. DRM Breaking is NOT primarily for piracy as you seem to believe, or rather are paid to believe. Homebrew is a legitimate pass-time, a technical challenge and an exciting one at that. Mod Chips facilitate this process, and the people who build them DO KNOW that piracy will take place, but that is the COST of freedom to experiment and build. Bad people do bad things, but just because they do you CANNOT classify ever mod chip as inherently evil. All this crap that people just don't want to pay, well perhaps if these big corporations gave a rat's ass about the consumer there wouldn't be a problem.

Stop spewing what we all know is lies put forth by large media corporations; all they want is to control and dominate the markets and us consumers. We Won't Stand For It.

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GK

> The Anti-DRM argument on the other hand: ....
The above part was so badly worded ...
> Mostly touted by people who don't want to pay
Uses logical fallacy of Ad hominem

Here's why its wrong.
* Many of the anti-DRM folks are linux users.
What DRM is really doing is locking the user into some small ecosystems. You're stuck in either the microsoft camp, the amazon camp, the rhapsody camp or another, losing your freedom to use what's already out there. Making you pay for things that already exist in the commons or have already been paid for. The techniques used are market monopoly and exclusive channels.

I have a block buster subscription, rent DVDs because bluray DRM prevents it from running on linux. Avoid netflix becuase silverlight is another lock in strategy for a windows system. I would have subscribed to Netflix if it worked on Linux.

I tend to buy software only if its java, flash, runs on wine, advertised to be cross platform, or can be compiled on multiple platforms
ex: Readiris Pro 9 / Machinarium / Shredder Classic 4 / OxygenXML editor. thunderbird (over Ximian Evolution)

Here's why the accusation that Linux users pirate falls apart.
* Linux users use Linux precisely because they do not want to live within their means and not pirate.
* Also there is nothing to pirate as the desirable pirated software are usually meant for windows.
* Usually most software in the commons already does what most people need.
* You feel that paying up for something already paid for, is like giving in to bad marketing practices.

The pressure is higher for Windows users to pirate because the system causes them to spend more and more.

The irony is that if you're the Linux user amongst a group of windows users with similar affordability at a party, then most likely you're the one who doesn't pirate, while the windows users underground software to transfer just about anything around. So the DRM system doesn't really work, it only inconveniences people who use legit free and open software. no DRM system can really prevent copying, its always possible to re-record the rendered audio/video in the last hop using a simple video/audio-recorder. Again, so DRM system just don't work.

At the same time, If one argues that DRM does help content be secured, I see nothing wrong in having a DRM for linux. I think its possible to implement security systems for the code to self-check itself whether its compromised and play the content, while simultaneously being open-source. Perhaps part of this code should bury itself into the graphics card, decrypt the content outside of user accessible space, and provide some guarantee that no other memory access / screen grab or audio capture has access to it, assuming that's how DRM accomplishes its objectives. If that's not how DRM works on windows, then as mentioned there is no point in DRM at all.

What I value is the ability
* to migrate the DRM system and the content secured by it to any new machine / running which ever operating system
* perpetual executability / playability

Its good to see a list of non-DRM providers, because I think their business model and the artists behind them ought to be patronized.

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HandyGandy

A big concern would be live-CDs, including WInPE and BartsPE.
Secure boot is likely to make these unusable. meaning that it will be harder and more costly to repair corrupted, even WIn8.

Given Windows penchant for curruption, I think this means it will affect most users fairly rapidly.

Secure boot is need for only one reason, the requirement that users be able to access the bios from Windows. Allowing access to the bios at boot as was standard, and only allowing the bios to be flashed at boot from physical media virtually obviate the risk for a boot loader virus. Only a fool who would flash the bios with an untrusted upgrade would be at risk the,

The biggest irony, the people who cannot live with access to the bios only at boot are precisely the people who should not access the bios at all aka Grandma.

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highlandham

An increasing number of companies are selling 'bare bone' PCs for the purchaser to add a HD a DVD writer and possibly a graphics card/module and subsequently to install a preferred OS ,say Linux or FreeBSD or even Windows
At least in the UK one can now purchase a laptop without an installed OS . Personally I shall never again buy a brand make machine with pre-installed M$ software. In this circumventing any lock-down attempts by (software) vendors.

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bbneo

Microsoft doesn't like that model, I'm sure, because it would involve users purchasing a "full install" copy of their software, and they couldn't play pricing games with hardware manufacturers... Even more important, Microsoft doesn't want "full install" versions of their OS floating around to be virtualized and disseminated.

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Adam Benedict

Actually, it looks like UEFI may not be much of a concern:
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/leading-pc-makers-confirm-no-windows-8-pl...

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HandyGandy

Right.
We are going to believe the word of a known Microsoft shill (Ed Bott).

Just search Groklaw for Ed Bott to see.

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Jacob

Personally, if MS wants Win8 to only run on secured hardware then they should design their own computers (like they did with Xbox, or the way Apple does). It should be illegal (monopoly laws) for MS to force hardware manufacturers to lock the hardware. It would be in best interest for PC makers to tell MS: "Unlock Win8, or it will not run on our hardware".

Imagine the outrage if BP forced GM/Ford/Honda/Toyota/Nissan to build cars that only accept BP fuel.

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yossi

MS does not want the computers to be locked to Win8 permanently, they just want the ability for this locking to exist. In MS's vision, you will be able to go into the BIOS and set a key for whatever OS you may happen to have. The problem arises when you realize that real world computer manufacturers wont be including this menu in their BIOSes.

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stites
Open Source Champion

"In MS's vision, you will be able to go into the BIOS and set a key for whatever OS you may happen to have. "

How does that affect people like me who boot several operating systems, none of which is Windows?

----------------------
Steve Stites

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yossi

It wont effect you at all. You just get the keys (probably just a hash) for the OSes you plan to install, and add them to the whitelist in the BIOS. The requirement to whitelist bootcode will prevent a particularly nasty brand of malware that inserts itself so far up the bootchain that it gets loaded before the OS.

The real issue is that the large computer makers will not ship with full featured BIOSes. We can see this already, where you can't overclock a computer running a Dell BIOS or the like, because the BIOS manufacturer simply cut that capability out of the BIOS.

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Dysan

You turn off secure boot.

All MS is saying is that for a computer/motherboard to be declared "Windows Ready" it has to have two things.

1)Implement the "Secure Boot" option in the UEFI
2)Have that option enabled by default in the BIOS

MS doesn't care if there is or is not an option to disable it as long as it is enabled by default.
The debate come in if the hardware manufactures do not include a way to disable the option.

In my opinion secure boot is a good thing as it can ensure that malware can't mess with the OS load process.

See here for more details on the Secure Boot
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/22/protecting-the-pre-os-envi...

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bbneo

What good will it do if secure boot just insures the bootloading of the biggest malware payload there is? A Microsoft OS.

Sounds like another half-baked idea from Microsoft to try to comfort their hardware vendor zombies with the sliding market share of Microsoft-based PCs in the consumer world.

The enterprise IT guys need to chime in here, because at an enterprise level, I get the sense that Microsoft is becoming a much more insidious monster... likely paying off IT decision makers in various ways to choose Microsoft enterprise tools. I use Windows XP Professional every day in an enterprise setting, and I feel like anything *but* a professional with it.

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larrythethird

I have worked as an enterprise IT guy for most of the past 30 years. Before there were PCs. Most purchasing departments buy computers strictly because of discounted prices for the larger counts of computers needed for a business. As such, only the big names can compete.

Anyone who has ever used a brand new name brand computer knows that it is vitually useless as it comes from the manufacturer. There are numerous bloat applications, applications disguised to look real but are only ads for the OEM, and applications that are not usefull in a corporate environment. Now we can see how this is going to add to the price in the IT/corporate world.

When I setup a new computer for a user, I take the first unit of that particular model (in an IT department a certain PC model may be used for 6 months to a year) and wipe the hard drive. Then intelligently install the OS and the applications needed for the user to do their job. Then make an image of that install to load on all of the other units of that model. UEFI will have to be accessed in order to do this.

We're still talking about the OS that came licensed on this particular PC, but not in the form it came in. This is where MS wants more and more money. And that is what this is really all about. I will imagine there will be a pay for key to do this. Or you will have to be an OEM builder who buys an enormous amount of licenses to get the keys.

Any restriction to what can be done with hardware YOU OWN should be a crime. BIOS is an outdated way for the hardware to pass to the software what is in the system. I have been around long enough to have had to work with engineers to reprogram the BIOS of the first PCs because of the limited support of the newest peripherals, which were not neccesarily designed for PCs.

Something needed to be done, but putting limitations on what the device can be used for is counterproductive. And as with all commercially available systems, like cell phones, PCs and DVD players, the hackers have probably already found the hacks to get by this all. So only legitamate users suffer from these futile attempts to stop malware and root kits.

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Aramis

My concern about these "requirements" of Microsoft is. What will happen to the pre-installed Win8 if you turn of the Secure Boot option?

My bet is that it will pop up a message like "Windows could not boot, because this PC is tampered with. You might have a pirated version of Windows installed"

And the OS will probably phone home to report this.

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Unidentified

Which is why I will never use Windows to begin with. If this means that I have to take the extra step to ensure a computer works with GNU/LINUX then so be it. Screw Microsoft, seriously!

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bbneo

Here is something with impressive specs and *no* Microsoft tax:

http://hothardware.com/News/Commodore-USA-Puts-C64x-Extreme-On-Sale/

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Ant

DRM FTL. :(

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Lightweight

Of course, DRM really stands for Digital Restrictions Management. It's all about *Restricting* your Rights, not enforcing them.

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Jacob

And who manages/licenses these keys? Who decides which OS is secure to be authorised? How will the key/BIOS know if an OS got infected with malware or what if you custom build your OS how do you prevent BIOS a false positive. IF MS is worried about malware then maybe THEY should secure Windows so that malware can't get to the bootchain.

I can already see it:
- MS support: How can I help you?
- user: My computer won't boot.
- MS: You need to call you PC maker and get BIOS key
- PC maker: You need to run Windows updates
- User: But I can't boot, how can I run Win Updates?
- PC maker: Call MS for support
- MS: Due to previous Win updates the hash has changed, you need to update your BIOS to get the new security key, call your PC maker.
- PC maker: There is no new BIOS update. We only support the OS setup that shipped from the factory, run Full System Recovery from your DVD recovery disks.
- User: I don't have any DVD recovery disks.
- PC maker: You can create recovery disks by going to Start-Programs-CrateRecoveryDisks.
- User: But I can't boot to Windows
- PC maker: You can order DVD recovery disks from our sales department, please hold.
- PC sales: How can I help you?
- User: I need Recovery Disks.
- PC sales: What's the serial # of the PC?
- User: The s/n is A325BK48-P58
- PC maker: Sorry that s/n is not showing up in our database, can I get the model and OS.
- User: Dell K58, Pentium i3, Windows 8
- PC sales: Ok, great. The Recovery Disks cost $49.99, plus $9.99 shipping & handling. It takes about 5-7 business days for the disk to arrive to you. We accept MC and Visa.
- User: I only have Amex.
- PC sales: Sorry, we don't accept Amex. Goodbye.

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jpo

FUD.
The BIOS of my 2010 laptop still supports the A20 gate option introduced so that old DOS programs that relied on a 20 bit 8086 address bus didn't fail on the 80286. What makes you think that the OEMs will prevent WinXP, WinVista and Win7 to run on their hardware? I really don't see it. Especially if enterprises are just starting to standardise on Win7...

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Jacob

PC makers will design to run only Win8, because it's cheaper for them to test the hardware just for one OS, instead of testing it for WinXP, Vista, 7, 8, and Linux. And then when Win9 comes out, PC makers will build hardware for Win9. I've seen on other posts that users can't get tech support form the PC maker because they installed different Windows than the factory installed Windows. So yes, there's a good possibility that PC makers might lock their h/w to Win8. MS may also offer licensing discounts to the PC makers that lock their h/w, and PC makers will take the discounts.

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bbneo

That would be great. Then Microsoft Windows-based PCs will finally be seen as what they are... useless pieces of crap.

Don't buy them. It's not your hardware. It's Microsoft's.

I would love to see this next level of DRM experiment. Microsoft will take some participating hardware vendors down with them.

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Sancho

Check out the android phones - how many of them received OS update after 6 months?
And, as they have protected boot-loader, the owner is stuck even if some willing and skilled tech-gurus create an image of the new version.
This realy sucks - and I expect the same situation in PCs, too.
BTW, the A20 gate option is supported mostly on DIY HW, not on the mainstream products - haven't seen the option for years.

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william_from_texas

Hi Ruth,

Nice write up. However, I see a glaring mistake in your article:

It's "Digital Restrictions Management". The only "rights" in DRM are the ones that get damaged - those of the consumer, even those of the issuing corp.

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MikeE

Hi Ruth,
I've moved countries a few times and travelled quite extensively, and one of the glaring issues which really winds me up when it comes to DRM (and things like Zoning) is that the legitimate content I purchased in one country can become little more than a coaster or worse (useless bits on my hd) in another country. Where as if I bought an illegitimate copy (or downloaded one) for a much lower to free price, I could play it anywhere I wanted. In short DRM winds up punishing real customers rather than stopping pirates who likely wouldn't have paid for the content anyway

my 2c

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AC

Maybe it's just me, but none of the music or movies I've downloaded have ever been DRM-crippled-crapware. Oh, and there was no cost, either.

/Sea-brigands' Lagoon
//Fark big media.

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Andy Canfield

I owned a DVD of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Region encoding prevented me from playing it. So I bittortented an unlocked copy, and scizzored the original. No guilt here!

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Suricou Raven

I work at a school. One of the recurring problems we have is people bringing pirated movies into school.

Not the pupils. Though one of them did have a copy of Jackass 3.

It's the teachers.

The english department uses movies for teaching purposes. They have these movies, legitimatly, on DVD - but this is a school, and these discs are constantly getting misplaced, borrowed or lost. When found, they tend to have been left on a table and gotten so covered in scratches they won't play properly any more. So a few of the teachers found a simple workaround - they just download the movies from bittorrent and bring them in on USB stick. Those copies play better and with none of the loss or damage problems of DVDs. Every few months we catch one and give them a telling-off, but they always go back to their pirate ways.

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bbneo

Obviously, these teachers are the scourge of the content industry... making a digital copy for limited use. They are just trying to use the content that they own in a useful way.

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bbneo

Stupid Microsoft Windows reliability games moved me to Linux in 2007 with Vista. I feel like Charlie Brown in the fall special with Lucy holding football for me to kick. Every year I thought that *finally* Microsoft will fix the many user problems with their software. Not so, PC fan breath.

It finally moved my computer-illiterate parents to an iMac in about 2009. My mother still has to be tutored on how to cut and paste a URL *every time* she tries to due it, but *now* she can use the machine to email and surf the web without being subjected to the latest Windows-world sh*tstorm of malware. Her old Compaq runs Ubuntu reliably for my kids to use.

If Microsoft thinks that UEFI is going to fix their crappy software issues, they need to look in the mirror. Their crappy software issues are a part of a *design* and *quality* problem, not a *security* problem.

Everybody who knows the Microsoft beast needs to spread the word to his/her fellow user: Buy a Mac. Buy only hardware that allows for alternative OS installations. Help Microsoft flush their consumer market share further down the toilet.

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highlandham

Why buying a MAC when there are umpteen Linux distributions to choose from .
Just erase M$ Windows from any PC and install Linux
It is just a matter of KISS (Keep it simple stupid)

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Linulo

I took the freedom to post a German translation of the above article on my blog. Take a look if you like.

Deutsche Übersetzung

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Unidentified

Ruth,

Nice article, but it is missing quite a bit, such as BlueRay encryption and DVD Jon's crack for it. More involving the DeCSS lawsuit would have also helped. The DVD Shink case was not covered. Nor was the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. PirateBay deserves a footnote, as does Napster. How about the fight over VCR's, scrambled outputs, and "Don't copy that floppy"? Metallica's Lars Ulrich downloaded his own album, after being a strong RIAA supporter.

You really could expand this article into a book.

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suehle
Open Sourcerer

Some of those would make good additions. I was trying to keep it manageable, though, and about DRM, not piracy. DeCSS was more about video, as of course is VCRs, all of which is interesting but tangential to the specific story of music and DRM. FWIW, I'm thinking of doing a separate timeline about video issues.

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Brad

Easy solution:

Charge the minimum denomination in hard currency in each country each time a song/movie is played. Here in Oz, its 5c. In China and india it will be cheaper, reflecting what people there will more likely be able to play. As the country becomes more affluent, the lowest denominations tend to disappear. We've already lost 1c and 2c - they're already talking about 5c. Good luck if you're in Zimbabwe!

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MadsR

The music "industry" (And especially artist associations) have always been crying wolf.

In the mid 1800'th with the invention of the mechanical piano they predicted the end of music in as few as 10 years. No one would pay to listen to a musician when these devices could play instead and when musicians could not make a living they would stop producing new music. A national newspaper campaign were set in motion to "help save the music" moving for a ban of this new technology... They didn't succeed and strangely, music didn't die. Every time something new have been invented that relates to music, the "industry" cries and says we have now seen the end of music...

And as to the UEFI, It IS a disaster, not because you won't be able to run linux on a machine (you will by going through some settings in the pre-boot interface on almost all machines) but because you will not be able to upgrade your paid system or actively save a wrecked system (By that I am talking about using a Linux live CD to open a locked up Windows system and re open it for use) AND (and this is probably why Microsoft is so keen on this) you won't be able to try out linux with an easy LiveCD because you need skills that are not common to allow it to boot, and Microsoft knows that this is the main cause of people using other systems, they are introduced to how easy and simple they are using a LiveCD.

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Bauhaus

I was one of the many burn victims of the Yahoo! Music Service. They actually had a pretty decent library of old stuff, obscure stuff, eclectic stuff. I downloaded so many songs. Thought I had ripped and saved all of the purchases, but even still, even now, I'll go to my library wanting to play something, and that useless, goddamn Yahoo DRM license website pops up. Rhapsody gave me a credit to download X amount of music to compensate when Yahoo shut down - but I obviously I missed many of the songs I'd bought. Never thought I'd have to bookkeep my music.

Here's the thing: Because of DRM, I've had to purchases songs two, three, even four times. That's just wrong.

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Gretz

I don't buy music or movies anymore. I don't do any online music service (rhapsody, iTuNeS, yahoo, walmart, MS/Zune, etc). I don't even give music as gifts.

I don't pirate the stuff, either.

I've stopped buying and going to movies. The rare exception being a trip to the drafthouse movie theater with friends to have a few beers and watch a movie - usually these are old movies or cartoons (Spike and Mike's) with a theme.

Considering the mess that Sony made with their root kit, and the fact that no one went to PMITA JAIL for a computer crime, means that I don't buy their hardware, either.

It's all an intangible luxury, and if there's ever been an industry that needs to be taken to task for it's greed and corruption, it's the entertainment / media industry. I don't need any of it. They need me. I need gas, food, cars, clothing, tools, etc, but I don't *need* movies, music and TV - they're a luxury, and in my opinion, the market is a bubble waiting to pop.

YMMV, but i've actually had good luck with STEAM. Any complaint or gripe I've had has been resolved quickly. Games go on sale pretty regularly, and around Chistmas and new years', whole catalogs of games go on sale for pennies on the dollar.

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wizardB
Open Enthusiast

Sorry double post

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wizardB
Open Enthusiast

After Sony CD fiasco I started using nothing but Flac and MP3's for music and since downloading music is legal in Canada I downloaded digital copies of all the music I owned since about 1965 and now have an awesome digital library....thanks Sony:P

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Jay Roots

DRM is nothing short of more creative control for the distributor. As an artist, once I sell my work to a distributor who has DRM, I lose my copyrights per the law. Not that I don't actually own my intellectual property, I do! But what good is my property if I can't do anything with it now that I have it locked it in a DRM? It turns it into a criminal act to distribute my own creativity outside of that specific DRM provider. I can't sell a copy, I can't give a copy away, or even showcase a copy without breaking DRM - even if I already have the ORIGINAL copy! DRM doesn't work because it is ALWAYS broken. Someone will break it. The claim DRM providers that it is used for anti-piracy is a joke because a creator can't pirate his own copyright. It may have been made originally for the purpose of anti-piracy, but distributors found a loophole that allows them to make larger profits by confiscating copyright with it. Because breaking a DRM is illegal even if the intention of breaking a DRM is not used for illegal purposes. What good is holding the right to something with DRM laws the way they are now? Now these distributors are playing a whole new ball game. And it's just big business for them - they are fighting for control over not just your use of their content, but user privacy. Rootkits, internet-only platform access, privacy removal for sharing sites like Youtube, internet copyright infringement cops - Countries has even gone to the lengths of shutting down entire households from internet access due to infringement claims. Like the web is used only for entertainment or something. People need it nowadays for just about every aspect of their lives! And most people don't realize that even if YOU don't even think so, YOU ARE technically, A PIRATE. You copy copy copy, everytime you stream content, save a picture as, use a quote in a text and put it on your Facebook without citation, or share a song with somebody. Believe me, no matter how ridiculous and trivial it may sound to you, it is not trivial but serious business to these corporations who are controlling copyright via DRM. If you realize the potential of knowing your own personal habits through your use of the computer, they can better understand how to profit from you - keep talking about being for-DRM, it's not about copyright anymore its about privacy, control and ownership.

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Jay Roots

DRM is nothing short of more creative control for the distributor. As an artist, once I sell my work to a distributor who has DRM, I lose my copyrights per the law. Not that I don't actually own my intellectual property, I do! But what good is my property if I can't do anything with it now that I have it locked it in a DRM? It turns it into a criminal act to distribute my own creativity outside of that specific DRM provider. I can't sell a copy, I can't give a copy away, or even showcase a copy without breaking DRM - even if I already have the ORIGINAL copy! DRM doesn't work because it is ALWAYS broken. Someone will break it. The claim DRM providers that it is used for anti-piracy is a joke because a creator can't pirate his own copyright. It may have been made originally for the purpose of anti-piracy, but distributors found a loophole that allows them to make larger profits by confiscating copyright with it. Because breaking a DRM is illegal even if the intention of breaking a DRM is not used for illegal purposes. What good is holding the right to something with DRM laws the way they are now? Now these distributors are playing a whole new ball game. And it's just big business for them - they are fighting for control over not just your use of their content, but user privacy. Rootkits, internet-only platform access, privacy removal for sharing sites like Youtube, internet copyright infringement cops - Countries has even gone to the lengths of shutting down entire households from internet access due to infringement claims. Like the web is used only for entertainment or something. People need it nowadays for just about every aspect of their lives! And most people don't realize that even if YOU don't even think so, YOU ARE technically, A PIRATE. You copy copy copy, everytime you stream content, save a picture as, use a quote in a text and put it on your Facebook without citation, or share a song with somebody. Believe me, no matter how ridiculous and trivial it may sound to you, it is not trivial but serious business to these corporations who are controlling copyright via DRM. If you realize the potential of knowing your own personal habits through your use of the computer, they can better understand how to profit from you - keep talking about being for-DRM, it's not about copyright anymore its about privacy, control and ownership.

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