The Broadcast Flag is Nothing Compared to What Microsoft Has in the Works for DRM

microsoft longhorn logoFor people who’ve been obsessed with issues surrounding the broadcast flag on HDTV content, things are about to get even more difficult. Heise Online is reporting that the next version of Windows will have extra-strength DRM capabilities tied into PC hardware. The move by Microsoft is to assure content producers that products they release will be protected against unauthorized copying and distribution when used on a PC. So say bye, bye to audio stream rippers and video capture techniques that in the past have circumvented copy-protection on digital works.

At the end of April at the WinHEC 2005 developers´ conference Microsoft intends to furnish further details on the copy protection functions of the successor to Windows XP Longhorn, which is planned for 2006.

The preliminary WinHEC 2005 Master List of Tracks and Sessions under the heading Media Advances for the Windows PC Architecture lists a number of events dealing with the form of control of use known as Digital Rights Management (DRM). One of these track sessions will, for instance, be concerned with the Protected Media Path (PMP), which is to be established for media data in Longhorn PCs. A Protected Environment (PE), whilst providing a Protected Video Path (PVP) and Protected User Mode Audio (PUMA), will enforce defined requirements on hardware drivers (for TV or graphics cards, say). These channels are to be proof against data theft by rogue software. PUMA runs in the PE, with the PVP even encrypting data transfer to the graphics card over the PCI Express Port (AES 128). A PC´s outlets – in the case of video signals the outlet of the graphics card – are also integrated into the output protection management concept (OPM). Here Microsoft mentions known output protection schemes such as HDCP, Macrovision or CGMS-A, but also speaks of artificial resolution constrictors. According to Microsoft “significant hardware features must be implemented in graphics chips for Windows Longhorn to support PVP and OPM, with additional larger implications for the drivers.” The longer term project PAP is to introduce audio encryption all the way to the audio codec chips. [Heise Online]

With this heavy blow to “fair use,” which in the near future will be non-existent, will Linux developers buck the system? In other words, will no-name PC hardware vendors sell non-DRM compliant products to run on Linux? And will software gurus create programs that will bypass copy-protection, in lieu of what the content producers want imposed? Hmmm… my guess the battle is about to heat up. And if my prediction of a Linux counter movement comes into being, get ready for a mass exodus from Microsoft and Apple (because you know they’re secretly working on a similar scheme).

Filed in: Industry Buzz

  • taklamakan

    I will always be grateful to Gizmodo for asking Bill Gates this question, because it’s exactly how a lot of people feel who are otherwise positively disposed towards Microsoft:

    Gizmodo: What seems to me—what hurts my feelings—I feel like I, as a customer, want Microsoft to be totally on my side. In that, as far as the people that are producing things, that might want more DRM and might make it inconvenient, I don’t understand what it necessarily benefits you to help them


  • 00h00m

    I suppose I see it as a required inclusion for MS in order to continue to move the PC (and thus the OS) into the living room. Without DRM the content providers simply will not put the content out there because there will be no way to collect revenue if people are able to freely trade content. While it sucks for us who want to watch something on our pc then move it to a portable device and take it on the road, I am sure there will be contingencies for this. All in all I support any move that helps eliminate piracy. The real bummer is that we the consumer will not see the benefits of this in the form of lower prices, but the shareholders may see it.