Of Boing Boing and DRM
Ok, I’m going to admit it. I don’t like DRM. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. But the reality is that without some forms of DRM, I wouldn’t be able to legitimately download a movie to watch on the plane during a business trip. Sure, there are other ways to get the goods, but the powers that be say DRM is necessary to give me a guarantee the 4 hours I spend downloading it off my $12.95/24 hr hotel cablemodem isn’t going to end up being a handi-cammed video shot at the local multiplex. I will personally never be a poster-child for DRM, but as long as the content providers keep coming to Microsoft (and Apple and Google) saying it’s a requirement, then someone has to deliver.
Second admission. I love BoingBoing.net – it’s irreverent, often informative, and Cory, Mark, Xeni, and the crew have some really interesting things to talk about. But sometimes, things appear to get misinterpreted. I wasn’t at the presentation in question, but based on what was said, there are a few common misconceptions about DRM I’ve heard over the years:
Claim #1: You have to be a “big roller” to license Microsoft’s DRM. Er, no. Big and small, hundreds of licensees and hundreds of devices have the platform. Take a stroll through the electronics districts in NY, Tokyo, or Hong Kong, look at the devices that support WMA and services and you’ll see what I mean. (Ok, or Dixons for Ian and my pals in the UK).
Claim #2: Windows Media DRM is only for Windows and isn’t available on competitive platforms. Not true. ANSI-C sources are available for porting to any platform and have been made available for quite a while. What’s more, they’ve been ported to many many platforms including <gasp!> platforms ending in letters at the end of the alphabet. You’d have to ask the vendors building the solutions more about that though.
Claim #3: Licensing terms for Windows Media DRM aren’t fair or accessible. Visit www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia See DRM on left, click Getting Started. Or here’s a direct link. Device porting kits are available and continually updated. Many DSP and SOC (System on a Chip) manufacturers offer support as well for anyone who wants to implement their chip into a device.
So that’s my read. No, I don’t speak officially for Microsoft or any pricing policies, but let’s give a little credit to Amir for willing to get up on-stage and take arrows on the topic. (He’s also by the way the only VP I know of who has such passion for his work that he frequents message boards to chat with other AV enthusiasts during his limited leisure time.) Charging a small royalty is a legitimate way to ensure interested parties are serious about building a business using the technology as a tool. I don’t like it either, but it’s the nature of the business as it stands today.