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Microsoft shoots self in DRM foot

To meter, or not to meter? That is the question
Thu Mar 15 2007, 14:01
THE CURRENT BATCH of Windows updates includes one rated 'important' which addresses an 'issue' in Windows Media Player 11. The problem is that portable music devices that support DRM to count the number of times that protected content is used can't phone home with the data.

As a result, subscription music services are unable to extract play count data from portable devices, such as, er, MS' own Zune.

One of the alleged benefits of DRM is that metered usage of a track, based on the number of actual plays, can work out cheaper than buying a licence for a permanent transfer. This is cheaper for the content provider rather than the end user, of course. Microsoft describes it in this wise:

"Metering provides several benefits, the greatest of which is to reduce royalty fees for those content provider services that license content and then resell it to their customers. Royalty fees are based on the type of sale, such as whether the sale is a permanent transfer or a metered single play. The cost of a metered single play is much less than the cost of a permanent transfer, therefore metering content is often much more economical for the content provider."

The problem occurs when services try to synchronise metering data on a client computer running the Windows Media Format 11 SDK and Microsoft Windows XP. Details of the problem can be found here µ


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