Hollywood Cripples Your Hardware

Ars Technica reports that “content providers” (ie. the music and movie industries) through pawns such as Intel are mandating crippleware for multimedia hardware such as DVD drives through licensing schemes that include $8 million (US) penalties for under-compliance.

Running a successful business is all about giving customers what they want at a price they can afford, but don’t tell this to copyright holders, who are pushing for even more control in the next generation of consumer devices. Intel, for instance, has introduced its next-generation link encryption technology called DTCP-IP, which protects content as it makes its way across unsecured IP networks—say, from your main computer to your media PC or television. At this week’s Intel Developer Forum, the company pushed manufacturers to adopt the technology, using what might be described as a “carrot and stick” approach, but without the carrot.

Important to note is that in addition to the fines by Intel, manufacturers can also have their devices “disabled in the field.” This means that say you buy an Acme DVD drive with DTCP-IP technology from Intel and Intel later determines that Acme’s implementation of DTCP-IP is not strict enough and results in “copyright infringement” then Intel can remotely disable all Acme DVD drives from accessing protected content. All of a sudden your DVD drive is worthless. This makes manufacturers vulnerable to lawsuits by angry consumers who had their drives disabled by Intel.

Boing-Boing’s Cory Doctorow writes:

It’s pretty creepy: you have to allow for “system renewability messages” that can revoke features and even disable the DTCP-IP when they’re submitted. Ever wonder why enemy space-stations always seem to have a big red “press this to make the whole space-station explode” button in science fiction movies? I mean, wouldn’t it be smarter to just not build “self-destruct” into your space-station? Well, that’s what DTCP-IP demands of its implementers.

Are consumers really supposed to swallow this poison pill with a smile? Is Hollywood’s hubris so vast that they actually believe consumers will allow them at their own caprice to permanently disable their computer hardware by remote control just so that we may be permitted to imbibe their crap movies and music? Apparently so but as I have told anyone who would listen, the only solution to this DRM mess is for consumers to assert their power by starving the beast. Nobody needs to watch movies or listen to copyrighted music. When their profits fall through the floor due to consumer boycott then “copyright owners” and their tech minions may finally stand up and take notice of the fact that you cannot make enemies and criminals of your customers and expect them to continue to patronize your business.

Ars Technica article | Boing Boing article

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