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Microsoft Media Player shreds your rights

Comment No more backups, or Tivo
Thu Sep 21 2006, 11:08
THINK DRM WAS bad already? Think I was joking when I said the plan was to start with barely tolerable incursions on your rights, then turn the thumbscrews? Welcome to Windows Media Player 11, and the rights get chipped away a lot more. Get used to the feeling, if you buy DRM infected media, you will only have this happen with increasing rapidity.

One of the problems with WiMP11 is licensing and backing it up. If you buy media with DRM infections, you can't move the files from PC to PC, or at least you can't and have them play on the new box. If you want the grand privilege of moving that content, you need to get the approval of the content mafia, sign your life away, and use the tools they give you. If you want to do it in other ways, you are either a lawbreaker or following the advice of J Allard. Wait, same thing.

So, in WiMP10, you just backed up your licenses, and stored them in a safe place. Buying DRM infections gets you a bunch of bits and a promise not to sue, but really nothing more. The content mafia will do anything in its power, from buying government to rootkitting you in order to protect those bits, and backing them up leaves a minor loophole while affording the user a whole lot of protection.

Guess which one wins, minor loophole or major consumer rights? Yes, WiMP11 will no longer allow you the privilege of backing up your licenses, they are tied to a single device, and if you lose it, you are really SOL. Remember that feeling I mentioned earlier? This is nothing less than a civil rights coup, and most people are dumb enough to let it happen.

Read the links, the entire page is scary as hell, but the licensing part takes the cake. "Windows Media Player 11 does not permit you to back up your media usage rights (previously known as licenses)", Wow, new terminology, old idea, you are a wallet with legs waiting to be raped. "The store might limit the number of times that you can restore your rights or limit the number of computers on which can use the songs or videos that you obtain from them. Some stores do not permit you to restore media usage rights at all." Translation, not our problem, and get bent, we got your cash.

But it gets worse. If you rip your own CDs, WiMP11 will take your rights away too. If the 'Copy protect music' option is turned on, well, I can't top their 1984 wording. "If the file is a song you ripped from a CD with the Copy protect music option turned on, you might be able to restore your usage rights by playing the file. You will be prompted to connect to a Microsoft Web page that explains how to restore your rights a limited number of times." This says to me it will keep track of your ripping externally, and remove your rights whether or not you ask it to. Can you think of a reason you would need to connect to MS for permission to play the songs you ripped from you own CDs? How long do you think it will be before a service pack, masquerading as a 'critical security patch' takes away the optional part of the 'copy protection'? Now do you understand why they have been testing the waters on WiMP phoning home? Think their firewall will stop it even if you ask?

Then when you go down on the page a bit, it goes on to show that it guts Tivo capabilities. After three days, it kills your recordings for you, how thoughtful of them. Going away for a week? Tough, your rights are inconvenient to their profits, so they have to go. "Recorded TV shows that are protected with media usage rights, such as some TV content recorded on premium channels, will not play back after 3 days when Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 for Windows XP is installed on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. No known workaround to resolve this issue exists at this time." Workaround my *ss, this is wholesale rights removal by design.

What WiMP11 represents is one of the biggest thefts of your rights that I can think of. MS planned this, pushed the various pieces slowly, and this is the first big hammer to drop. Your rights, the promises they made, and anything else that gets in the way of the content mafia making yet more money gets thrown out. Why? Greed. Your rights? History. You were dumb enough to let it happen, don't say I didn't warn you. µ

 

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