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May 28, 2005 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Think you're in full control of your computer? Think again. Intel has just quietly added one of the necessary components of Microsoft's (and the TCG/TCPA's) DRM technology, Palladium, to the PC platform. Some say this is a move against rampant Chinese software piracy, others think it's a power grab by the content producers. Left unchecked, content and software producers will have the final say in how you use your computer, fair use be damned.
posted by id (55 comments total)

 
I was about to post a comment here, telling about the evils of DRM, but my computer won't let me do it.
posted by qvantamon at 1:32 PM on May 28, 2005


AMD also snuck some DRM tech into their Pacifica virtualization extensions.

We can all look forward to a future where the media we buy can't be gifted, resold, moved to new equipment, and copyright never expires.
posted by nmiell at 1:33 PM on May 28, 2005


This is truly frightening for me to see, due in part that it's happening without consumer input to the process. The industry is deciding to side with content producers, and all they want is the one-time-use content model- pay per play. They'll make even more money on the same content, which you most likely already own but will now have to shell out your hard earned money again, because your old media wont play on a TCPA-enabled PC.

Mac's, don't think you're exempt either- Apple uses industry-standard hardware in their machines, so they may have to cave to pressure.

It's just another dent in our fair use rights- which are slowly being dwindled as they impede some corporations' ability to milk their product for all it's worth.

PS. My first post. woot. (=
posted by id at 1:35 PM on May 28, 2005


I hate those bastards. AMD may not be much better, but I will take them over Intel any day.
posted by insulglass at 1:36 PM on May 28, 2005


Sounds like Microsoft is playing into Apple's hands.

"You mean even if I install Linux, the machine won't let me put songs on my iPod? But this other computer comany charges a little more for machines that do what I want?"
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:40 PM on May 28, 2005


yo id if you had checked my previous post i sort of discretly included it.
posted by sourbrew at 1:42 PM on May 28, 2005


Just to put the otherside out there. If the producers of software can prevent piracy prices could come down. Lower prices could easily be in the producer's best interest. They'd rather sell 1,000 @ $100 than 100 @ $500.

Naive, maybe. We won't know how this turns out until we get there.
posted by Carbolic at 1:48 PM on May 28, 2005


This has nothing to do with piracy. It is all about content providers wanting to make everything pay-per-use.

Our DVDs will be pay-per-view, our software will be on a subscription basis, etc.
posted by sveskemus at 1:58 PM on May 28, 2005


Damn. Guess it's time to switch to Mac.
posted by ed at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2005


Carbolic, It's not like they are running on a tight profit margin right now...

And if everyone should HAVE to pay for the software, I doubt the software industry would play nice and put the prices down. That 1000 ppl you are talking about would HAVE to buy it anyway, so let's make them buy it for the highest price they can pay... (and maybe make a lite, feature-crippled version to cash in on those that CAN'T pay full price)

It would be more like, instead of 100 ppl paying $500, 300 ppl paying $800 for the full version and 700 paying $100 for a crippled version
posted by qvantamon at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2005


The market has prevailed so far, no reason to doubt that this will change.
posted by mischief at 2:02 PM on May 28, 2005


Carbolic- that really does depend on the software corps, and if they wake up to a single fact: they have to compete with piracy, not attack it.

Piracy is an effect that's only seen with copyable works- you can't pirate gold (damn..). So, what's interesting is that piracy occurs when the price of software is too high- the company is basically pricing willful users of the software out of range. Thus, they turn to piracy, and get it for free.

If they brought their prices down to a level where the question is 'it is worth my time to pirate this?', then we're right there. People would buy software, because it would be affordable.

Whats going to instead happen, that with the push for DRM to force people to buy software, they're just going to shoot for free alternatives. Linux is there, it's good enough, and it will still support all this DRM bullhockey with the added benefit of being free. This will actually put companies out of business- I guarantee it- when they think they're doing it to protect their own interests.
posted by id at 2:11 PM on May 28, 2005


Reducing piracy hasn't ever reduced prices, in my experience. They always claim that it will, but it never happens. Go back and look at the dawn of the CD era in PC gaming... you couldn't copy a CD for a long time. So everyone had to buy their games, and prices went... up.

Industry people will point out that the costs of making CD games were higher than the floppies that came before them, and they are correct. But they sold many times more than the extra money invested, at least when the games were good. They didn't drop prices. They kept the extra money. Fortunes were made... and kept. Not refunded.

What brings prices down is fair competition. We've had a glut of games over the last couple years, and because of that, many of them have been pretty heavily discounted. It's not hard to find $30 games that are quite good. Prices go down only when they must, in order to move product.

If copying is stopped, the MPAA/RIAA shareholders may see bigger dividends. We might see a few more movies than we otherwise would. But one thing we will NOT see is lower prices.
posted by Malor at 2:37 PM on May 28, 2005


piracy occurs when the price of software is too high

I disagree. It may not be software, but many people glady swap songs on peer-to-peer networks that they could download for for $0.99 on iTunes. People upload and download television shows on torrent sites that air for free over broadcast airwaves.

If Microsoft Office were $20 instead of $200, there'd still be tons of pirated versions out there.

you can't pirate gold

Oh, really?
posted by herc at 2:38 PM on May 28, 2005


Sorry to bogart the thread, but I had some more thoughts on the hardware end of things.

Remember, "trusted computing" doesn't mean YOU can trust your computer, it means that MICROSOFT can trust your computer. Untrusted computing would be a much better name for it. They don't trust you and they don't want to give you full control over your machine.

That said, TCPA isn't all bad. It can be a powerful tool to enhance your software security, if and ONLY if you have all the software keys necessary for full control of the hardware. With those keys, you could secure a system to be very hard to crack. Not impossible, mind you, but very hard... and virtually impossible to crack *invisibly*. You could still be hacked, but it's almost certain that you would KNOW you had been hacked.

However, if you don't get the full-access keys, then you don't control the computer... it's not really yours anymore. You're allowed to do only what the key owner allows you to. Microsoft is already well-known for changing licenses midstream... they get you to buy in with one version, but to get security fixes, you must accept a far more draconian license instead. This should absolutley be illegal, but it isn't, and they take big, big advantage of it. If you don't hold the hardware keys, they can decide you can't run Program X anymore... and there's not one goddamn thing you can do about it.

Another scary thing here is that Intel is building in backdoors... software that runs 'under' the OS, at the BIOS level, and which will allow copying, reformatting, and installation of new software, directly over the network, *without the OS knowing anything about it*. This could be really useful in a corporate environment... I'd love to be able to re-image a screwed-up machine remotely. But from an end-user perspective, that's a rather frightening idea.
posted by Malor at 2:43 PM on May 28, 2005


herc: "If Microsoft Office were $20 instead of $200, there'd still be tons of pirated versions out there."

Not the same ratio. Especially among businesses.
posted by Gyan at 2:48 PM on May 28, 2005


Just the other day I found myself downloading a cd that was sitting on a table on the other side of the room, because it was easier than walking across the room.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:09 PM on May 28, 2005


I don't care how low prices go, I think the majority of piracy is not about "I can't afford it" it's about "hey, it's FREE." Yeah, that song on Itunes is only 99 cents, but it's it's in a weird format that has a bunch of rules attached. Hey, look over here! The same song is free and it's in a good ol' mp3 format.

I have heard of people who download music and software JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. They have games they've never even played, music they've never even heard.
posted by boymilo at 3:45 PM on May 28, 2005


This way of reducing user possibilities never met, afaik, users and industry sympathy.

People old enough to remember IBM's MicroChannel know what a miserable failure it was ; today industries don't like the idea of having the keys to their machines in somebody else hands as well..expecially when such machines are strategical and contain sensitive data..the promise of security-from-the-above looking like highly sophisticated blackmail to the most experienced observers.

Consumers ? They didn't refuse DVD copy protection and they still merrily go along with it as movie industry profit clearly show DECCS notwithstanding ....as long as they can run their copy of Word and some game they'll not complain too much.

Professional ? They have _everything_ to lose..would you hand the keys of your working tools to some producer ? You'll get my hardware from my cold dead hands before that happens....and on a tangent, were da fuck is NRA on that ? I guess they only care about guns ? I'll remember for the future....
posted by elpapacito at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2005


piracy occurs when the price of software is too high

I disagree. It may not be software, but many people glady swap songs on peer-to-peer networks that they could download for for $0.99 on iTunes. People upload and download television shows on torrent sites that air for free over broadcast airwaves.

posted by herc at 2:38 PM PST on May 28
Well, your using multimedia instead of software as your example, which changes the playing field quite a bit. People can pass on swapping multimedia- it's not really important in day to day life. Plus, it's consumptive- Your only going to see a given movie a few times in your life. Software is something you actually use over and over, during the course of a year, or even more.

Television especially comes with an extremely negative trait, that makes it appealing to swap: scheduled times. I swap television myself, because I work when the shows I like are on.
posted by id at 4:06 PM on May 28, 2005


All the music in the world is worth $4.99/month. Yahoo told me so, and thus it is true, dammit if they decide to sue me, I'll gladly pay them their $4.99 for each month I shared my music collection.

This is the death rattle of the business around the physical distribution of media.

Pop goes the revenue model, down the slippery slope of technological irrelevancy, joining the buggy whip, 5 inch floppy disk, and the rotary telephone.
posted by Freen at 4:07 PM on May 28, 2005


Consumers ? They didn't refuse DVD copy protection and they still merrily go along with it as movie industry profit clearly show DECCS notwithstanding ....as long as they can run their copy of Word and some game they'll not complain too much.

posted by elpapacito at 4:02 PM PST on May 28 [!]
I don't think consumers revolted against DVD protection because it was broken so quickly- Jon Johannsson [sic] created DeCSS in 99 or 2000 I believe. Anyone who wanted to copy DVD's could. Also, DVD's are actually priced well. You can pick up a new movie from $5 to $20, with special features, bonus items and more movie stuff. People see the additional value in a DVD over VHS or whatever else they have, and they're willing to spend on it. Plus, it's portable and doesn't require anything hard to use.

Music seems to be the opposite- very expensive, little extras, etc. Plus, a lot of people are disenfranchised with the distribution system- CD's are simply inconvenient compared to MP3's and digital media files. So they download instead of buy.

However, you price it cheap enough, and they will buy. I'm quite sure allofmp3.com is making plenty of $$.

Consumers won't revolt against TCPA, either, because they don't realize the underpinning threat or meaning it has- DRM is sneaking a trojan horse right into every computer on every desktop.

I simply do not like the idea of not being in control of something I own.

on preview:

Freen, you're right on.

Yahoo is competing with the piracy- if you price it right, people don't mind paying for it. $5 a month is a pittance for the ability to listen to what you want without having to wait for the P2P download to finish.
posted by id at 4:17 PM on May 28, 2005


If the producers of software can prevent piracy prices could come down.

Yes, because windows 3.1 cost me $79.99 new. But once the CD-Key, and now Authentication technologies came into play, I was able to buy windows XP for like $10! Incredible!

With Palladium M$ will virtually be PAYING me to buy their OS.
posted by shepd at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2005


Yahoo's music service uses MS's existing DRM within Windows Media Player. Does that make Y! Music evil now?
posted by dr.flakenstein at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2005


The chinese will just start using their own chips. Honestly, like the chinese government has any intrest in sending billions of dollars over the US.
posted by delmoi at 4:44 PM on May 28, 2005


Dr. Flakenstein: Yahoo Music is most definitely evil. But you have to look at the continuum. What does it mean that right now, for 5 bucks a month, I get all the music I want and play all the music I want( right up untill i stop paying $5/month). That means that all the market will bear is music for $5 a month. If that. It also means that the music industry values access(limited with respect to time, but not scope) to it's catalogue at approximately $5/month. They can't really sue another kid for $60 grand again. They can, and will, and it will be a battle they win, but they've really lost the war. Music has become commoditized.

Game over man, game over.
posted by Freen at 5:11 PM on May 28, 2005


linux
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 5:44 PM on May 28, 2005


As cool as the subscription music model seems, I wonder how mainstream it will become. It remains to be seen whether the majority of consumers will agree to give up ownership of their music in the long term. After all, if your service goes under, you have to rebuild your library from scratch somewhere else.

Software as a service will be even more difficult to sell, I imagine. It will be hard for people to stop looking at software as something they own and start looking at it as something they lease or rent.
posted by rhiannon at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2005


The real concern with DRM is that it has to establish identity for it to work -- which makes for some real privacy implications.
posted by Slothrup at 6:33 PM on May 28, 2005


I'm so glad I'm buying a Powerbook next month.

Also, it will be a cold day in hell before I rent music a la Yahoo's little music service. You do know they will be raising the price and the $4.99 is just a limited time thing, right?

Thank god for vinyl.

(...I wonder-- do I listen almost exclusively to old music now because a) it's inherently better, b) it's not DRM'd to hell, or c) a combination of the two.)
posted by keswick at 6:37 PM on May 28, 2005


The money that will be made in software is not the production of software, but the software support and customization. As operating systems become more complex, and as different computational needs arise, people with the skills to implement solutions will be in high demand. The Solutions will effectively be commoditized. It become about what you can do, with what tools, and when. As opposed to selling something that you have done before as a final static product.

The same will be true of music as well. It will be about being there, seeing the band play live, and not just live, but actually improvising, playing something new and different. Because if a band just goes around and plays the same set list, the exact same way, well, i've already heard it, because i listen to the last concert on the internet.
posted by Freen at 7:05 PM on May 28, 2005


This allows drives to be reformatted, and even different OSes loaded, remotely.

And Intel won't discuss the security, which means they fear it can be undermined.

Welcome to a world of new super-powerful viruses.
posted by orthogonality at 8:09 PM on May 28, 2005


Carbolic writes "If the producers of software can prevent piracy prices could come down."

hahahahaha... that's rich dude.

Oh wait, you seriously think that content producers will actually lower prices?
posted by clevershark at 8:14 PM on May 28, 2005


herc writes "It may not be software, but many people glady swap songs on peer-to-peer networks that they could download for for $0.99 on iTunes. "

er, no. Never once have I gotten something on P2P that I couldn't copy as I wished. iTunes tunes are crippled that way. Also you can only play them with the iTunes application (officially speaking), and transfer them to devices made by Apple (again, officially).

If content producers want my business they'll have to start selling me things on my terms.
posted by clevershark at 8:21 PM on May 28, 2005


now embedding digital rights management within in its latest dual-core processor Pentium D and accompanying 945 chipset

I know this is going to sound very "640k-ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody" of me, but I'm happily chugging along at 1.8 ghz, and know that, if I want to, I could get a couple of 3 ghz. chips (non DRM). So screw Intel and their fancy new chips. I couldn't care less if Word takes an extra .1 second to load.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:37 PM on May 28, 2005


That means that all the market will bear is music for $5 a month. If that. It also means that the music industry values access(limited with respect to time, but not scope) to it's catalogue at approximately $5/month. They can't really sue another kid for $60 grand again.

No, it means that they are selling a crippled version of on-demand radio for the low, low introductory price of $5 per month. Assuming that their attemt to unseat a dominant rival (iTunes) is indicative of the overal state of the market -- and therefore the future -- is necessarily flawed.
posted by verb at 8:39 PM on May 28, 2005


The good news is that, for technical reasons, this is much less dangerous than it would have been, say, five years ago, because few people will need to buy these new chips. Because of the heat dissipation issues that recent CPU's (particularly Intel's) have begun to face, both manufacturers and software developers are trying to design their products for parallel processing between multiple slower chips (as opposed to a single super fast chip). This, combined with the fact that the current state-of-the-art processors already significantly outstrip the demands of most software, means that consumers who want faster machines will be able to buy ones built with multiple older non-DRM processors (especially if they're running Linux).

Or they could just get a Mac.
posted by gsteff at 8:52 PM on May 28, 2005


And we can add to all of that the fact that at most this affects people who own computers, use the internet regularly and use their computer/internet for playing, acquiring music and duplicating music.

Point of fact is that the average consumer is not most of the people concerned with rights managed music or video or would even know what all the jargon associated with the Pentium D means.

Skip over that and you're raising a generation of kids who will grow up doing all of these things under the scheme provided for by the systems interconnected network dweebs such as ourselves detest.

None of this is to say people are stupid, but most people aren't as connected as the deinzens of web chat areas seem to think they are.

For most consumers, being able to pop a compact disc in their stereo or a disc into their video player or play a downloaded song on their computer is fine.

While there are instances of rights protection affecting playback in stereos and other devices, the average consumer isn't going to notice much until, and if, such instances are the norm.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:20 PM on May 28, 2005


I wonder how long until cheap portable storage hits the terabyte mark?

I remember when cds were new i went to hongkong and could get a cd in that had all the microsoft OS's and applications and many other applications for like $5. The same thing is going to happen with music and movies. $5-$10 for all music/movies ever made on one piece of storage.
No one is going to stop making advances in storage just because of fears of piracy.
posted by Iax at 11:10 PM on May 28, 2005


I couldn't care less if Word takes an extra .1 second to load.

You'll care when the Windows Longhorn SP 2 won't run on non-DRM hardware, when documents created with your old version of Word are not compatible with the new version of Word that only runs on Longhorn SP 2, and you can no longer share your files, as a result.

You'll care then, and further, statistically speaking, 95% of you will open up your wallets and buy your upgrades, the remainder buying a Mac and accepting the compatibility problems.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:47 PM on May 28, 2005


I'm sorry, what compatibility problems? Oh yeah, that's right: none.
posted by keswick at 12:19 AM on May 29, 2005


Keswick, not flaming, but I own a Mac and there are plenty of compatibility problems, especially between Word and Powerpoint apps. Feel free to email me if you want a comprehensive list.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:22 AM on May 29, 2005


Clevershark: As I said " Just to put the otherside out there."
posted by Carbolic at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2005


here are plenty of compatibility problems, especially between Word and Powerpoint apps.

You're better off without Powerpoint, and between Pages and OpenOffice, I can open any Word document on my Mac.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:14 AM on May 29, 2005


when the Windows Longhorn SP 2 won't run on non-DRM hardware, when documents created with your old version of Word are not compatible with the new version of Word that only runs on Longhorn SP 2, and you can no longer share your files

Come on, this is just alarmist FUD. With the threat of Macs and Linux these days, it's highly unlikely that Microsoft would create a version of Word that doesn't open older Word files and alienate the millions of businesses that have their important documents in >2003 .doc formats.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:11 AM on May 29, 2005


Civil_Disobedient:but I'm happily chugging along at 1.8 ghz

A whole bunch of people will be building "last generation" machines rather than buy into letting somebody else "pwn" their box, and I will be one of them. That should let me get by for 5 or 6 years. After that, it won't be worth having a computer anyway.

I can also see the headlines when somebody cracks the built-in DRM and uses it to remotely format thousands of Microsoft's corporate machines and install 'nix instead.

Tee hee.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:18 AM on May 29, 2005


There's really nothing hardware DRM can do without being coupled with software. Using Linux is a great way of avoiding opening up your box nefarious outsiders, if you know what you're doing.

If I ever buy a piece of computer hardware on which Linux won't install it's going right back to the seller as defective.
posted by clevershark at 8:01 AM on May 29, 2005


Iax: It's not exactly cheap, but it is portable.
posted by ArsncHeart at 8:19 AM on May 29, 2005


With the threat of Macs and Linux these days, it's highly unlikely that Microsoft would create a version of Word that doesn't open older Word files and alienate the millions of businesses that have their important documents in >2003 .doc formats.

You must have never used different versions of Visual Studio. And there are forward-compatibility problems within Office applications on Windows, already. If you don't think Microsoft would do this to promote their lazy, vague mantra of "network security", then you're not paying much attention.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:19 AM on May 29, 2005


I won't buy a processor that includes DRM. While I'm not in the majority on this (most users won't know the difference or won't care), I hope there will be enough like-minded people such that some manufacturer will continue providing untainted chips. Ideally I'd like to see Intel bankrupt itself on this issue, but that's just wishful thinking.
posted by bshock at 10:45 AM on May 29, 2005


Even if newer versions of Office continue to open files from older versions forever (which is certainly not guaranteed), as well as provide a means of saving in all older formats (even less guaranteed), the problem is that your old version of Office won't open the newer documents that people will be sending you. Constantly nagging your clients and other correspondents to remember to save their documents as a older version before sending them to you isn't going to win you friends, and it's no way to work in the real world.
posted by Axaxaxas Mlö at 11:43 AM on May 29, 2005


> it's no way to work in the real world.

Given the useless mountain of various disk formats and discarded versions of Word Perfect, AppleWorks and stuff that used to run on CPM that surround me -- but I can't throw out 'just in case', I've learned that there's actually only one way to work in the real world, and that is to keep all of my content in ascii, and only use formatting software like Word to make hard copy presentations.

Today, if someone wants a copy of something from me, they'll get it in ascii --either as a text file, or pasted into an email. After that, they can do what they like with it, but at least I know that 20 or 30 years down the line, *I'll* still have access to it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:02 PM on May 29, 2005


Peter LaTex will give you both of those in one easy to use file.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 PM on May 29, 2005


You must have never used different versions of Visual Studio. And there are forward-compatibility problems within Office applications on Windows, already. If you don't think Microsoft would do this to promote their lazy, vague mantra of "network security", then you're not paying much attention.

We were talking about document files, not VS files. Big difference. But lo! What's this on the horizon? Ah, proof that Alex Reynolds is, once again, wrong, wrong, wrong.

New Office formats for Word, Excel & Powerpoint to be completely XML.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:56 PM on June 2, 2005


With all the backwards compatibility problems talked about with new versions of MSFT apps, it's not that surprising that adoption of XP in corporate environments has been slow, at best. My wife worked for a big 5 consulting agency that had (up to last year) all employees on Win98, and was pushing to upgrade to win2k in 2005.

This is not uncommon.
posted by fet at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2005


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