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DRM 'Too Complicated' Says Gates 196

Posted by Zonk
from the comments-good-for-three-days-or-three-plays dept.
arbirk writes "BBC News is reporting on comments made by Bill Gates concerning DRM.. It seems he has got the point (DRM is bad for consumers), but that opinion differs widely from the approach taken by Microsoft on Zune and their other music related products. The comments were originally posted on Micro Persuasion. The article also has a take on Apple's DRM." From the BBC article: "Microsoft is one of the biggest exponents of DRM, which is used to protect music and video files on lots of different online services, including Napster and the Zune store. Blogger Michael Arrington, of Techcrunch.com, said Bill Gates' short-term advice for people wanting to transfer songs from one system to another was to 'buy a CD and rip it'. Most CDs do not have any copy protection and can be copied to a PC and to an MP3 player easily and, in the United States at least, legally."
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DRM 'Too Complicated' Says Gates

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  • Windows too? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fishpick (874965) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:45AM (#17253926)
    Ya think Bill might extend his logic to the WGA tool, the activation process and the Vista license?

    "You should buy the media [Windows] and rip it to BitTorrent for others..."
  • Interesting stance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ubrgeek (679399) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:47AM (#17253938)
    I think it's an interesting realization for Gates, doubly so as the article points out because of the Draconian measures in place for Vista. I also wonder how long it will be until the RIAA comes out with some sort of press release countering the argument. Full-page WSJ ad, maybe? But the end result is, will MS make any changes to their official policies/practices, and does Bill's opinion really matter when he's stepping out of his policy-setting positions at MS in a few years ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916)

      There is no contradiction between Gates saying DRM is bad for consumers and Microsoft espousing DRM - since when did Gates do anything that benefited consumers without first being dragged through a courtroom?

    • by uohcicds (472888) <darren AT gestaltweb DOT me DOT uk> on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:21AM (#17254452) Homepage

      I would say it's a realisation at all. I suspect he has, like many of us, known this to be the case pretty much from the outset. Whatever many may say about Bill, dumb he most certainly is not, so you can bet that most of the arguments swarming around about DRM will be ones he not only aware of, but has mentally rehearsed many times in his own head before talking about it to meetings.

      However, he is at the head of an enormous corporation, with assets to protect and the need to maintain revenues. The decisions are clear: with the MS market model and lock-ins to their software and systems, DRM is a desirable (and possibly even necessary) by-product. It may not be ultimately best for consumers (at least in our eyes), but it is useful for his company. That's his business, you can't blame him for that. His reponsibility is to his shareholders (that's a whole other issue).

      That we have a mass marketplace that accepts all of this is more of a worry, but that is the thing that is in our hands. A single dominant vendor or platform is bad for innovation and growth, whether that would be Microsoft, Apple or any other (like a dominant Linux distro). The modern computing world is necessarily heterogeneous and those who accept and evolve in that way will find themselves equipped to deal with the future. And I think Bill Gates is keenly aware of that fact, whatever we may think and however we think Micsrosoft are behaving.

      I rather suspect DRM is struggling, but that people like Gates have a great deal invested in preserving at least some of that structure. He may be sitting on the fence just a little to see how things shake out. Not a stupid move in his position, it has to be said.

      • by ubrgeek (679399) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:44AM (#17254822)
        Excellent points. One part really stands out:

        he is at the head of an enormous corporation, with assets to protect and the need to maintain revenues

        Those assests obviously include the partnerships with the media that provides the content MS so obviously needs (as does, of course Apple and, growingly, cellphone provides.) So short of MS, Apple and all the others collectively saying, "You know what RIAA, MPAA, etc. Bite me. Our consumers drive our success, and the artists successes drive your warchests and we're not going to play anymore," I just don't see there being an end to increasingly complex, PITA DRM."
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gonarat (177568) *

        I wonder if Bill even considers WGA to be DRM in his mind. After all, you can copy a Windows XP install disk (I imagine it is the same for Vista) all you want, so the Windows disk is not, in his mind, copy protected. WGA and activation are required to use Windows, but it is not required to install it. In most people's minds, this is DRM, but I could see where Bill Gates might really believe that this is not the case when it comes to Microsoft products since there is no "copy protection" on the actual med

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          How is this any different than music on iTunes? You can make millions of copies of the iTunes files and distribute them where ever you want to. Getting them to play on an unlicensed computer is another story entirely. I don't see the difference between this and WGA. You can "Install" the music wherever you want, but don't try "using" the song without the activing the iTunes account on that computer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by inviolet (797804)

          I wonder if Bill even considers WGA to be DRM in his mind. After all, you can copy a Windows XP install disk (I imagine it is the same for Vista) all you want, so the Windows disk is not, in his mind, copy protected. WGA and activation are required to use Windows, but it is not required to install it. In most people's minds, this is DRM, but I could see where Bill Gates might really believe that this is not the case when it comes to Microsoft products since there is no "copy protection" on the actual media.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NSIM (953498)
      I keep hearing this thing about "draconian DRM measures in Vista" and I still can't work out what they are. I've been using VISTA for over a years (installed RTM at the end of November and haven't rebooted since)and have yet to find a non-DRM file that VISTA isn't quite happy playing. I can still decrypt & RIP DVDs, rip CDs to MP3 etc, the only thing that I know that might hurt in the future (if I used a PC to watch DVD) is that you'll need an HDCP compliant graphics card to get full resolution from HD
  • by MindStalker (22827) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reklatsdnim'> on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:47AM (#17253942) Journal
    A friend recently had to sit through a sales presentation of Microsoft Corporate DRM (the kind that keeps your documents and other corporate files secure based on a rule set like the music DRM). And came out of it realizing that for the Corporate DRM to work they would have to replace ALL their software with Microsoft software. Lucikly they told MS to get lost with their solutions, but the point is MS sees DRM as a way of locking customers in perpetually to them. If you create a MS DRM document you will never, outside of hacking it, be able to transfer your files away from Microsoft.
    • by weave (48069)

      There is one nice feature of RMS (if I understand it correctly, have never used it before)...

      The idea of being able to time-bomb documents appeals to me! :)

      However, I'm betting there is probably a domain-admin key of some sort that can override that, otherwise employees would be time-bombing loads of docs they do.

      btw, I wonder what Stallman thinks of Microsoft co-opting his initials for their "rights management server" :)

  • erm to be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldcd (587052) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:48AM (#17253954) Homepage
    DRM is Microsoft's problem - not their fault. The fault rests solely with the music industry and their failure to recognize this media-less thing might catch one and their failure to create their own unified DRM standard from the start.
    • by Henriok (6762) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:55AM (#17254096)
      Exactly! It's not Gates or Steve Jobs's fault that we are stuck with DRAm, it's the content owners fault. Apple and Microsoft are doing business largely on the terms stated by the content owners. If it were up to MS or Apple.. there would probably not be any DRM protection in their products. It just complicates matters, stifles innovation and adaptation.. very much an image that Apple and Microsoft strive to get away from, but if they want to commercialize an idea they have to obey the demands of the suppliers.. at least to some extent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PeeAitchPee (712652)

        If it were up to MS or Apple.. there would probably not be any DRM protection in their products.

        Really? You mean like how I can install OS X on any hardware I choose, or how I can easily install and uninstall Windows from PC to PC? Don't kid yourself -- Apple and Microsoft own billions in IP and already control how and where you can use their products. If that's not Digital Rights Management, I don't know what is.

        • by neoform (551705)
          You're able to run OSX on a generic PC, the only reason you can't (easily) is because apple hasn't made generic drivers for them..

          You can say that's DRM, but it's more their lack of wanting you to use their products on other machines, they don't go out of their way by having special DRM chips in their hardware that ensure their OS can only be run on a mac..

          The real DRM is WGA and windows serial numbers, something OSX doesn't have.
        • If it were up to MS or Apple.. there would probably not be any DRM protection in other's products.
          There it's fixed.
        • by LanMan04 (790429)

          You mean like how I can install OS X on any hardware I choose
          So you'll be writing all your own device drivers then?

          That's not DRM anymore than compiling a binary for PPC and saying it's DRM because it won't run on x86.
      • by Salsaman (141471)
        You're kidding right ? Or being sarcastic ? DRM, a.k.a "Trusted Computing [wikipedia.org]", is Microsoft's master plan to kill off the competition.

        When Bill says "DRM is too complicated", he doesn't mean he wants to get rid of it. He means he wants Microsoft to make it "simpler for you".

        DRM is a wet dream for Microsoft and Apple. It lets them lock up your data in perpetuity, while making it illegal and/or technically impossible for the competition to access that data at all.
      • by leabre (304234)
        Well, to be fair, Microsoft Genuine (Dis)advangate has nothing to do with the content industry, it is their own choice to implement and they happily do so. Product activation does not benefit anyone but MS (not even the content industry if pirates can't use Windows then fewer people use use WMP DRM).

        So... Microsoft has not qualms with it. In reality, if MS didn't want to implement DRM for the content industry, they simple could say "no" and what can the media industry do about it? I few tiny iffy DRM pro
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CmdrGravy (645153)
      With regard to media I agree the *AAs are the ones putting on the pressure.

      However I think MS is also pushing DRM as a method for businesses to control the distribution and usage of their internal documents which would have happened regardless of the media corporations simply because it helps lock people in to the MS product line so for Bill to say he is against DRM is somewhat disingenous to say the least.
      • If you as a company want to introduce DRM to control distribution of your documents, then you are free to choose the system you want. You'll probably go with MS as you've already got Office installed on every desktop. You might regret your decision later on and wish to change, but it's not too hard - you have admin rights, you remove the protection and add protection from your new vendor.
        Music DRM is different. You want to listen to a track from one of the big labels, you have to buy the music with DRM ins
        • So the iTunes store was certainly effective in making sure I stayed with podsafe tunes.

          There are times when I'm glad I RIPed my entire collection of MP3s (over 1,200 CDs and disks) but when I'm putting together a show, I'm glad that my iTunes music library's on a different drive. :-)

          The RIAA can't claim anything regarding copyright infringement.
    • True. The problem is not as much they want to spend their time programming stuff that their customers hate. But Companies want to expand into digital over the internet media, and the only way they can play is to add DRM to their product. Because the content providers are afraid if there is no DRM Piracy will go out of control.
    • Microsoft is powerful enough that they might be able to get away with refusing to implement DRM. What could the music and film industry do? Not release on PC-compatible media at all??

      I think Microsoft might be able to win that one if they tried. Instead, they went the path of least resistance (or so they believe).
      • When you're stuck making all your money from other people's creativity, because you're so devoid of any yourself, you will fight tooth and nail to protect your smaller pile, because you know there is no way you can survive when everything's open.

        Without DRM, the RIAA would sue your computer manufacturer for putting in any audio component, apart from a radio.

        They don't care how much the world saves in the efficiencies of integration, it threatens their business models, damn it, and they are lawyers (not mus
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        Microsoft is powerful enough that they might be able to get away with refusing to implement DRM. What could the music and film industry do? Not release on PC-compatible media at all??

        I think Microsoft might be able to win that one if they tried. Instead, they went the path of least resistance (or so they believe).

        The only way that Microsoft could do what you are saying is if they were to buy all the record companies. They may have the money to do that. I'm not sure if the FTC would approve it, though. Just being "powerful" isn't enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Don_dumb (927108)

      DRM is Microsoft's problem - not their fault.The fault rests solely with the music industry and their failure to recognize this media-less thing might catch one and their failure to create their own unified DRM standard from the start.

      You might be right with respect to movies & music - leading to the Windows Media Player DRM. However, I dont think the **AA had any influence for Windows Genuine (dis)Advantge, or Windows Activation schemes, only Microsoft themselves could have had any input into those schemes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by man_ls (248470)
        As a technical service provider, I have to say I rather like WGA -- I work for a large corporation providing end-user support, and when anyone comes in saying "I did the updates on this machine I bought from the shop down the road..." and they have a WGA prompt, it means an easy sale of several hundred dollars to sell them a legit license, with a CoA and that will actually pass validation.

        I also like it because it keeps people honest. Nobody has the right to pirate anything -- be it 14 year old kid who wipe
        • by Don_dumb (927108)
          WGA doesn't keep people honest, it just makes pirates use the corporate versions, while those of us that are honest, have to fight against it to use the software we paid for.

          WGA like all forms of DRM is a bad thing, it punishes legitimate customers, while pirates are unaffected.

          As a technical service provider, I have to say I rather like WGA -- I work for a large corporation providing end-user support, and when anyone comes in saying "I did the updates on this machine I bought from the shop down the roa

        • ... and, of course, is also a source of endless frustration for individuals who bought a new laptop with XP Pro, but were given ONLY a bastardized crapware-infested image on a restore disk... so they CAN'T wipe the drive and do a nice, clean installation of XP Pro without blowing another $140+ for a second copy of an OS they already paid for -- or hunt down an activation-free corporate copy and disable auto-update on the theory that Microsoft's endless nagging about their copy being non-Genuine(TM) is more
      • by goldcd (587052)
        That's just validation of your OS - and the same with the OSX checks to make sure it's Apple hardware.
        If I buy a copy of XP and install it. Then buy a copy of Office and install it. The two pieces of software aren't locked together. I can legally and easily take my copy of Office off one machine and put onto another one.
        Evil DRM ridden future will be where my Office validates and locks against my copy of XP. Maybe the argument would be between windows and OSX versions of software. I can't just buy 'office
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Don_dumb (927108)

          I can legally and easily take my copy of Office off one machine and put onto another one.

          Oh really, because when I move my copy of office, or even reinstall it on the same box, I have to phone Microsoft and defend myself to the person at the other end of the line, in order to get them to activate it.

          Evil DRM ridden future will be where my Office validates and locks against my copy of XP. Maybe the argument would be between windows and OSX versions of software. I can't just buy 'office' - I buy office

    • by DrSkwid (118965)
      So DRM on Word documents is something to do with the music industry?

      Explain that one to me...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:52AM (#17254028)
    "Most CDs do not have any copy protection and can be copied to a PC and to an MP3 player easily and, in the United States at least, legally."

    So if he's in favour of fair use, isn't installing software also fair use (and not copying) and so trying to force people to accept an EULA when installing software (by claiming it's necessary to obtain a copyright license for the copying made during installation) is baseless.

    They're exercising their fair use by installing software they bought, hence they don't need a license to do that, hence you can't force an EULA on them under guise of copyright license, because they don't need one.

    The saddest thing about this, is that it's not legal in the UK to rip CDs to MP3.
    It was in the past, when it was a civil offense and since it had no damages (no lost sales), there were no damages to sue for. Hence they had fair use in the UK, well sort of anyway. That was lost when copyright infringement was moved to criminal law. That was done due to a treaty in the EU lobbied by the BSA, in which they decided it didn't need a fair use clause.

    Who's BSA's main client? Begins with M? ends in $?

  • Pot meet the kettle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:52AM (#17254036)
    Apple's fairplay DRM is consistent. What you can do with one song you can do with all the songs.

    Windows Media DRM can vary based on any number of factors but is what the RIAA wants. They want to limit how some songs are played. Some songs can be burned to cd 5 times others never at all. MSFT bowed to the pressure of the RIAA to try and undercut Apple and instead got bitten by consumers who only got confused.

    While I don't care for DRM I do see the point. Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.

    • Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.

      What part of Apple's system doesn't? It allows five computers and an unlimited number of iPods. It's easy to write to an audio CD, up to seven CDs of a particular playlist. If you change the playlist by a minute (add a one minute track at the end), or make a new playlist with same tracks, you can get seven more burns. You can even use their program to rip that CD to get an unencrypted (albiet slightly lo
      • by peragrin (659227)
        I agree Apple's unified system is a lot better. but what happens when I want to take a song or video to my sister's house for christmas but I already have my home computers authorised?

        You can take a cd or dvd with you, drop it into any player and it will work.

        That doesn't hold true for digital media. Apple shouldn't be specifying file formats, neither should MSFT. Fairplay at least uses AAC. So with better than WMA in that regard.

        It should matter what company I choose to play the media on. That's the lim
    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      While I don't care for DRM I do see the point. Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.

      Fair use simply gives a set of uses for which a content provider cannot sue you. They are not required to provide you with a method to exercise fair use.

      Imagine the content holder as a huge orange grove owner. The local government sees it as 'fair use' if you pick an orange or two per day to eat (you can't resell them though). You bring in a bucket to fill up and they can sue. That doesn't mean however, that they're not free to put a big electric fence with barbed wire at the top around their grove. Y

  • by Theovon (109752) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:54AM (#17254070)
    If everyone were to switch to buying CDs and ripping them, then people would stop buying from iTunes, and that would be good for Microsoft.
    • I agree. From the article: '"DRM is not where it should be," said Mr Gates.' He said that because Bill wants DRM to be in Microsoft's control - he is frustrated because he wants control of it, but can't get it.
  • Don't be fooled... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:58AM (#17254134)
    Saying something is "too complicated" doesn't necessarily imply it'll go away. Knowing Microsoft and the **AA groups, DRM may eventually shift to a form where it seems transparent to the end user, but is actually acting against the user's wishes in the background whenever the user attempts to defy the DRM scheme's rule set.

    For example, a DRM'ed file may appear to "copy" when the user issues the command to do so. But after the operation is completed, the user will simply get a rude awakening in the form of a message on whatever device or program their using saying that the original file was copy protected with a link to a webpage on Microsoft's website claiming that the copy didn't work because they were either trying to pirate the content or because they failed to use an approved piece of software to handle the copy operation for them.

    In short, it will probably be some method that passively harrasses the user into relinquishing control of their computer to Microsoft or some other "approved" company.
    • For example, a DRM'ed file may appear to "copy" when the user issues the command to do so. But after the operation is completed, the user will simply get a rude awakening in the form of a message on whatever device or program their using saying that the original file was copy protected

      My kid with an RCA Lyra MP3 player just had that can of worms. He was over at a friends house and copied a directory of WMA files to his player. They were protected and wouldn't play. To add insult to injury, he tried to de
  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:00AM (#17254164)
    ..now. He didn't say anything about DRM's inherent evil, which is that it makes your computer work AGAINST you.

    I am sure Gates has a fabulous scheme to make DRM simpler in the long term. But he's not going to reveal to a bunch of bloggers in a room.

    This is not a mea culpa or a reversal by Gates or Microsoft. He's merely acknowledging that it's a pain in the ass for consumers... in the short term.
    • Parent speaks the truth.

      From Micro Persuasion:

      Q) Is digital rights management (DRM) sustainable over the next 10 years?
      A) DRM is not where it should be. In the end of the day incentive systems (for artists) make a difference. But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity or interoperability.

      I agree with the interpretation that Gates is saying that there's nothing wrong with DRM per se, but that it's just that it could be implemented better and made simpler for consumers.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:02AM (#17254200)
    Q) Is digital rights management (DRM) sustainable over the next 10 years?
    A) DRM is not where it should be. In the end of the day incentive systems (for artists) make a difference. But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity or interoperability.


    Nothing else he said was against DRM in any way. All the anti-DRM talk was by other people. If you can't read "We're going to shove it down your throats eventually", then you're not paying attention.
  • It's simple, if something is heavily DRM'd and is not copiable, I don't buy it.

    It doesn't get much easier than that.

    CD > rip yes

    Itunes/online music services NO

    DVD > rip yes

    Online movie crippleware NO

    HD/DVD Blueray NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

    Vista for improved software and Dx10 gaming yes

    Vista for DRM'ed media content delivery NO

    Illegal downloading NO (I prefer mailing 500gb harddrives back and forth with friends)

    • by bahface (979106) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:24AM (#17254500) Homepage
      Since I've been a part of audio production in the past, I happen to know that the whole DRM thing, at least as far as music goes is kind of silly. I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that. But the thing is, all it does is theoretically keep people from making digital copies. But I can still play that audio through an analogue audio system. So, it is simple to make a digital copy of the analogue signal. If the source is anywhere near decent the digital copy of the analogue signal will be almost identical to the original. And for nearly everyone, that's close enough. Most people couldn't tell the difference between the original CD and an analogue to digital copy if its done on reasonably good equipment. Don't forget, people used to be ok with making casette tapes via an FM radio signal. That was pretty bad quality but people still did it. An analogue to digital copy is very close to the original. Once a DRM free digital copy is out there it is game over for the DRM stuff. Inevitably, copies can be made, that is, if DRM actually worked, which it doesn't. So, in the end, I don't think DRM can work, so for now it is making some people some money for these so called solutions, and harming consumers. Awesome.
    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      DVD > rip yes
      HD/DVD Blueray NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!


      Wasn't DVD unrippable (hey, I might just have made up a word!) at first until an encryption key leaked? Just give hackers some time! ;-)
    • Vista for improved software and Dx10 gaming yes

      Vista for DRM'ed media content delivery NO

      I'm sorry you have to justify your next-get gaming addiction this way... What makes you think Dx10 games won't have even more DRM than media content currently does? SafeDisc, SecuROM and the like seem about as evil and rootkit-ish as anything the music industry has done.

      Just don't buy Vista. Buy good, OpenGL games, and when XP starts to show its age, use Linux or OS X. And yes, there are good OpenGL games out ther

  • testing the market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hjf (703092) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:07AM (#17254254) Homepage
    I think all the DRM stuff was about testing the market. See how much they could push it without users complaining. And they tried to make it draconian. Didn't work. They found that people don't really like to be told what to do. Or better, what they can and cannot do.

    There's only one thing about DRM that I actually liked. You were, finally, buying RIGHTS for something. That means, if you ever lose your files, you could download the songs again at no charge (that was possible on some systems, IIRC). That's not the case with vinyls, tapes and CDs. You lost the vinyl, tape or CD, and you must buy a new one, and pay for the songs again. So there was no clear line of what you were buying: either the physical media, or the songs contained in it. Apparently, it was a Christian approach, kind of "body+soul", there were indivisible. You couldn't even take your scratched CD to the store and pay the price of the CD (the media alone) to get a new one. Also, this meant that you couldn't "upgrade" formats for a small sum (take your tape and pay a few bucks, and go home with a CD).
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      There's only one thing about DRM that I actually liked. You were, finally, buying RIGHTS for something. That means, if you ever lose your files, you could download the songs again at no charge

      In a non-DRM world with appropriate fair use rights protected by law, it wouldn't be a crime just to re-download the data that you lost. DRM is just an over-complexification of the problem at hand.

      -b.

    • No, no, NO! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Epsillon (608775)
      Sorry for the subject, but you really need to understand this: You cannot buy a right. A right is something innate that you have already. It's yours, and woe betide any bastard that tries to pry it from you. It doesn't need managing, digitally or otherwise.

      An all-too familiar example: I have the right to take free software code and do whatever I like with it for my own use. That's a right because I don't have to pay anyone, ask anyone or even let anyone know I'm doing it. It is a pre-established fact that p
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:13AM (#17254338)
    What Gates is saying is not that "DRM is too complex [and therefore we should abolish it]", what he is saying is that "DRM is too complex [but Microsoft will fix that]".

    He is being characteristically vague, but you can bet that he is either implying that Microsoft's DRM is already better than everybody else, or he is laying the groundwork for announcing some new Microsoft DRM scheme somewhere down the road.
    • Since the Zune can't play MS "Play For Sure" DRMed music, I don't think this new likely scheme will be something we really want.
      So maybe what he wanted us to understant is "you bought DRMed music, be prepared to buy it again and again".
  • The internet has made it difficult to run a regime that runs on secrecy. Government is already benefiting.

    Coming from BG, that's a good one...

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:24AM (#17254496)
    DRM is simple, there is nothing complicated at all. DRM is simply the proverbial pain in the ass because, instead of one standard, there are several. Microsoft and Apple each have a format that marries you to their specific platform. This isn't complicated, it is anti-competitive and the consumer actually feels anger and frustration.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:38AM (#17254702) Homepage Journal
    The game Guild Wars comes with an offer to download extra music from a DirectPlay-enabled (crippled) host. The music is supposed to be listenable in-game and at the desktop. After downloading some kind of license I can play the songs with Windows Media Player, but they won't play in-game. I go to the Guild Wars audio properties and it informs me of some kind of DirectPlay problem with a clickable error code. I click the code and a web page opens up saying generically "This DirectPlay music cannot be played," and that I should install the latest version of WMP. I do so and I get the same error message, plus I have to re-download licenses for the local files.

    As for DRM in general, I've had my share of nightmares. I put a newish CD into my computer the other day and it tried to install a proprietary music player. My girlfriend put a DVD movie (Warner Brothers) into her computer and a similar player began installing without even a prompt. I played Trackmania Nations [trackmanianations.com] a while back and, even though it is a completely free game, it installed the infamous and dangerous StarForce copy protection software without prompting me.

    I can't trust anyone but pirates anymore, so that's who I'll patronize (for content post-2004). Sorry, big media, you've failed me too many times. Companies are too greedy and DRM is too iffy to chance putting on my computer. My PC is heftier than my television or stereo will ever be and I'm not risking infection so that the MAFIAA can snoop on my private information.

    Historically, no one has better understood the needs and frustrations of digital media consumers than pirates. They provide easy-to-install cracks with detailed documentation. Pirate organizations like Razor 1911 and Reloaded provide a free "service" to the public and their only competition is other similar release groups. Why do non-profit organizations provide vastly better service than legitimate for-profit companies?

    Look inward, Billy Gates. Your company is guilty of all the things you point your finger at in TFA. It's cute that you urge us to rip CDs instead of buying songs online, but it's patently obvious that you're just taking a pot shot at iTunes. Put up or shut up.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      As for DRM in general, I've had my share of nightmares. I put a newish CD into my computer the other day and it tried to install a proprietary music player. My girlfriend put a DVD movie (Warner Brothers) into her computer and a similar player began installing without even a prompt.

      Hold down the Shift key while inserting the CD. Better yet, permanently turn off Autoplay (I think it's under Folder Options in Windows Exploder).

      -b.

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      Does it bother anyone else that they use the word "authentificate" on that Trackmania site, rather than the more accepted for hundreds of years version "authenticate"?
      • It's actually an amazing game (by any standard, not just vs. free games) that originates from France and is localized, fairly accurately, in about a dozen languages. Save your criticism for the copy protection.
    • by JanusFury (452699)
      You're thinking of DirectSong, not DirectPlay. DirectPlay is a networking API for game matchmaking and networking. DirectSong is a service run by a third party company that integrates with Guild Wars.

      It does use Windows Media DRM, though, so you're about right.
  • by styryx (952942)
    FTFA:
    Bill Gates' short-term advice...
    I really dread your long term advice, Bill.
  • DRM offers no value whatsoever for the customer. Worse yet, it reduces the value of the immaterial good because it limits its use. In other words, the customer will, facing the choice between DRMed and non-DRMed good, always choose the DRM free good, provided that the price difference does not outweigh the reduced value.

    What the industry fails to see is that DRM does indeed reduce the value of the good. They still try to sell DRMed content at the same price as DRM free content.
  • by Freed (2178)

    One of the biggest lies is that DRM is somehow neutral, say the way that knives are neutral. It's a lie because it ignores the overwhelming pressure upon groups that naturally have an interest in controlling others others such as corporations and governments, the kind of pressure that creates laws eroding civil liberties such as DMCA, etc. Control by DRM is in principle much more efficient than control by other means and thus all the more appealing to control freaks such as Gates.

    I've seen projections fo

    • by Sique (173459)
      This describes pretty much my greatest concern with DRM. For DRM to work, it has to be completely without holes. To be completely without holes, it has to be of higher priority than anything else, because if DRM conflicts with anything else it has to win, otherwise this would be a potential hole.

      Imagine a surveillance camera. A random person in the room with the camera is starting to watch a movie on a portable DVD player or a TV enabled mobile phone or whatever. How should the camera react? According to DR
  • If it was complicated but in the consumers' favor, I'd support it all day long. As Goldwater said "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no sin." But since they put us through all those hoops just so THEY can make a few more dollars, I say fuck 'em. Fuck 'em again. And keep on fucking 'em until they get tired. And when that happens, fuck 'em AGAIN.
  • I haven't really "bought in" to iTunes mainly because of the goofy jig I have to go through to get around the DRM. (Burn it to CD, then rip it to MP3) I'd rather order a used CD from Amazon which can be cheaper, plus I get the benefit of actually having the real album art in physical form, such as it is with CDs (I still miss the feel of a vinyl album sleeve). Ideally there SHOULD be a free/open album art format that the music industry appends to the music files. That way you have access to the album ar
  • Profit Motive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Friday December 15, 2006 @12:41PM (#17257012)
    What is Microsoft's profit motive for promoting DRM? Sure, Microsoft has been pushing DRM, mostly from extreme pressure from the music and movie industry... but clearly, it would be in Microsoft's interests to see DRM fail. Music downloading has sold millions of Windows equipped PCs. People on Slashdot are geeks, so they might not realize that a lot of people purchased computers in the last few years primarily to download music.

    Tech companies have everything to gain from free downloadable music on the internet. The people who make the music players, the people who make the PCs, the service providers and the people who provide bandwidth. DRM is only desirable to the people who sell music.

    Microsoft has to make an effort with DRM, because the RIAA and media companies are standing by ready to sue. But that is a far cry from imagining that Microsoft is on the forefront of promoting DRM.
    • "What is Microsoft's profit motive for promoting DRM?"

      Oh i dunno.. DRM'ed text files that dont open in linux or macos?

      DRM = vendor lockin. Microsofts weapon of choice.

  • He said "the current implementations are too complex".

    This isn't at odds with Microsoft's position, which is that making DRM an integral part of the OS is the best way to implement it. If you trust Microsoft, they will make DRM simple. And that will make it good.
  • "It seems he has got the point (DRM is bad for consumers)" - "But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity" - no, he doesn't get it. The problem is not the complexity/simplicity of DRM, but its existence. No one wants it, and they wouldn't want it if it was simple and interoperable. Unless the RIAA can buy every used CD on the planet, it's always going to be better to buy a used CD and rip it. Even if they quit making rippable CDs, they have to deal with two decades of CDs already in existe
  • I had a Nano for awhile and it grew legs. I guess someone needed it more than I, but I digress. I started looking for a replacement and had 3 viable options: Zune, Gigabeat and iPOD Video.

    I liked the Video, but I really missed having an FM tuner. I tried really hard talking myself into ignoring it, but the others had FM and controls I liked better. When my MP3 player is in my pocket, I hate having to reach in and pull it out to do anything. I usually ride my motorcycle with tunes playing, so I'm not

    • I started using Media Player 10 to stream to my XBOX360 and that's when the pain began. I had a MP3 refuse to play because, "this was ripped with a CD and the CD is not available".

      Are you sure it was an MP3? I've heard of problems with DRM and wma files, but not with MP3. Was it ripped with Media Player, or a real MP3 ripper such as CDEX.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday December 15, 2006 @02:09PM (#17258464) Homepage
    DRM is the industry answer to rampent "sharing".

    It was acknowledged by game developers in the 1980s that you would sell two copies of a game for the Apple platform, one on the East Coast of the US and one on the West Coast. Everyone else would get theirs from BBS systems. This virtually stopped game development for that platform.

    While it was "sharing" cassette tapes between friends, there was no problem with "music sharing" and it was all treated as either fair use or just a cost of doing business. Today, I can buy some recording and post it on the Internet for the world to download. I can do this in some cases before mass distribution by the content owner, thereby "beating" them to the sale.

    Whatever you think of content ownership and copyright, this isn't going to stand. You cannot have a situation where one group quashes the revenue and business of another group. When this happens between rival criminal gangs, the result is a gang war. When this happens between countries, the result is a war. When this happens between companies or companies and individuals, one of them is going down - and the individuals have all the advantage here.

    Yes, if this situation continues the individuals will win out in the end. But it will be rather strange victory - most of what we consider today to be "commercial" and "professional" recorded entertainment will disappear. Will traveling minstrels replace them? Maybe, for the folks that can't do anything else. But no commercial entity will put up money to make a recording again.

    We, the Internet using people of the world, have a choice. We can continue to "share" everything possible or we can contain our greed and selfishness and pay for entertainment. Sure, you get to choose what you pay for and you have a right to be angry when you are ripped off. But, you do not get to decide not to pay. At least not if we like the current arrangement. While patronage by the rich and powerful worked for a long time, it was an awful system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PitaBred (632671)
      Or, you can stop charging for content that is cheaply, infinitely replicable, and start having artists and others actually work for their pay, rather than feeling entitled to obscene profits in perpetuity from one-off recordings.
    • It was acknowledged by game developers in the 1980s that you would sell two copies of a game for the Apple platform, one on the East Coast of the US and one on the West Coast. Everyone else would get theirs from BBS systems. This virtually stopped game development for that platform.

      I think that's more due to the fact that the Macintosh in the 1980s was a marginal game platform at best, and the Apple II was dying a terrible death as the Apple //GS was completely out-performed by the doomed siamese twins of t
  • Most CDs do not have any copy protection

    Even simpler: all Compact Discs do not have any copy protection [wikipedia.org]. Look for the logo and don't accept anything else!

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