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Permalink 08/13/07 at 01:54:27 pm, by Ed, 592 words   English (US)
Categories: Programming

DRM. Digital Rights Management. The true path to global thermonuclear war.

Or as I like to call it, depending on the day, Digital Restriction of Media, Denial of Real Media, Digital Removal of Music, or Data Rigor Mortis (I'm particularly fond and proud of the last one).

As I look at the bloated content provider industry (read: Hollywood, Record Producers) and their attempts to control "intellectual property" (read: Sensory Input), I become very scared at how successful they have been in convincing the content delivery industry (read: Software and Hardware manufacturers) to do their bidding. I am also amazed at how resilient they are, in spite of every crack that has occurred thus far, making no DRM system truly fool-proof. Yet they continue to try.

I am particularly amazed at this analysis of Windows Vista's DRM system, which lays out the fact that it is impossible to actually watch High Definition content on your Vista PC, and your computer experience is actually much better with XP. While I can neither confirm nor deny the claims this article makes, it truly astounds me that a large, nay, the largest software developer worldwide has focused so singly on this particular task which only harms their customers, and drives up development costs industry-wide without providing extra useful features.

In fact, as the article states, since it is currently impossible to view DRM-encrypted HD content on a Vista PC without major loss of quality, it is entirely possible that the pirated rip-offs (notorious for being low-quality) may end up actually being of higher quality than the original. Other than the brand-addicts and fanboys, I don't see any reason the masses wouldn't start buying the fakes from Hong Kong or Taiwan when they're actually better, cheaper, and easier to play.

That's not the worst of it, either. Oh, no. In the name of digital rights "management", you cannot engage in any fair use copying of the smallest portion of any copyrighted work for the purpose of parody or critical assessment. Legal or not, as soon as NBC upgrades to Vista, SNL is closed for business. And as XP fades out of support (by January 31st 2009), and as the industry makes it more and more impossible to use your PC without Vista, and as Microsoft makes it more and more impossible to use your PC with Vista, the end result is one of three options: Vista will dominate the market (likely, as we have seen with other Windows Operating Systems in the past), Linux will get the break it's had coming for years (less likely), or Apple will suddenly find itself inundated with more money than it knows what to do with as a mass migration of Windows users takes place to OS X Bobcat or whatever large cat is next (unlikely).

So in the future, we can see a DRM-encrusted network of vital systems resetting randomly, installed on most computers for interoperability with other systems that had to be upgraded so that Microsoft would provide support, leading to intelligent military vehicles acting sporadically, either shutting down or, as the case may be as it was during the cold war, shooting of nuclear missiles randomly if ever it happens to lose power, leading to, as I said earlier, global thermonuclear war.

Well, I may have gone over the edge, but not as far as some would have you believe. I can only hope that the emerging signs that DRM is nothing but a Web-2.0-bubble fad are pointing towards the future, and not just a pirate's wet dream.

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