Blu-Ray Glitches Illustrates DRM Pitfalls

from the not-exactly-a-surprise dept

A story about flaws in two new Blu-Ray discs illustrates an important problem with digital rights management technologies beyond the fundamental flaw of treating customers like criminals. Ordinary open standards are designed to be as easy to implement as possible, and when hardware or software in an open platform detects a possible error, it makes a good-faith effort to recover from it gracefully. As a result, if one manufacturer makes a minor mistake in implementing a standard, the other components can often adapt and prevent it from bringing the entire system to a halt. Digital rights management turns this attitude on its head. The fundamental goal of a DRM scheme is to prevent unauthorized devices from working properly, which means DRM providers are required to react to any discrepancy as evidence of hacking and refuse to work with it at all. That's how we get Blu-Ray players manufactured by well-known consumer electronics companies refusing to play legitimate Blu-Ray discs from well-known Hollywood studios. And this problem is only going to get worse as Hollywood pushes for ever-more-elaborate DRM formats. Every new layer of "security" features that are added to consumer electronics devices increases the cost and complexity of the devices, and more complexity means lower performance and more ways the system can break. As we've noted before, Windows Vista has a particularly severe case of DRM bloat, as Microsoft has added "security" features demanded by Hollywood at the cost of degrading the performance of the entire operating system. Needless to say, this is a lousy business strategy. It raises the costs of products, necessitates costly recalls/firmware updates when somebody screws up, and needlessly irritates customers. Oh, and have we mentioned that DRM doesn't stop piracy?

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Comments on “Blu-Ray Glitches Illustrates DRM Pitfalls”

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xtraSico (profile) says:


DRM is a waste of time for everybody: manufacturers, consumers and pirates. 1)Manufacturers have to spend more in this dumb technology. 2)Consumers get a lot of trouble from this tech, even with legitimate media. 3)Pirates doesn’t care about DRM. They are going to break every protection scheme… FAST. As a consumer, I once rented a movie and tried to watch it on my player. It didn’t work. Exchanged the movie at the store because I thought it was scratched but it didn’t work either. It was a waste of my time. My player is fine. It just doesn’t like some disks. Even new, unscratched disks.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:


That’s because some DRM/Copy protection schemes insert bad blocks that older DVD players have fits about it. My old APEX DVD player has issues with some newer DVDs – it skips around and sometimes pauses.

It is so rewarding to pay for a DVD (Costco always has some good deals) and then be treated like a criminal for playing the DVD in an older DVD player. This just forces me to rip the DVD with all the crap removed.

slot says:

DRM Infected Vista?

Although I do agree with most of the arguments given in the post above, I’m actually quite dissapointed that there is a link back to the whole “Vista is DRM infected” story by Gutmann. I understand why that blog entry was posted back in the day, as Gutmann still seemed really reliable, however, in more recent times a lot of his claims have been debunked, for instance in these three long blog posts by Ed Bott.

Still clinging to these myths that for some reason where already accepted as truths when Vista wasn’t even in beta isn’t going to help it’s lacklustre sales. In fact, it is scaremongering like this that keeps the people away from a perfectly fine OS.

Drak says:

Re: DRM Infected Vista?

It’s funny how everyone jumps on the bandwagon when someone flames someone else. Have you noticed how zealous Ed is in regards to his responses. He also does a very poor job of backing up many of his claims and uses the few examples of where he is right to obscure the times he offers no evidence at all. If Gutmann is Left wing radical, Ed is right wing.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: DRM Infected Vista?

Hmm… Myths.

Let’s give this as an example of these myths. I have a computer with an ATI radeon card that can go up to 1080p. I have a TV that will go to 1080p. I have the HDMI cabling from the computer to the TV. I cannot get Vista to go above 1280 x 1024, witch sucks because it’s a wide screen TV and 1280 x 1024 isn’t.

I looked it up and it’s because Microsoft doesn’t want me copying Blue Ray or HDDVDs. You need Vista compliant hardware from the motherboard to the TV so they know you don’t have anything that can possibly copy a movie connected. Some HDCP crap. I don’t have a player for Blue Ray or HDDVD. So I can’t use the full power of my computer because of the damn DMC crap.

I built my computer before all this DMC crap started. I know it’s over a year old but it’s still is rated for 1080p.

chris says:

Re: Re: DRM Infected Vista?

well HDCP is the new road for even media devices that dont run from the computer. I am sure if you look, your TV is HDCP-compliant so that the newer high-def devices (HD-DVD and Blu-Ray) stand alones will work. HDCP is a studios-implemented (or should I say imposed) feature on all newer devices. It is not Microsoft’s fault that they had to include it in order for their media center to play QAM cable or a feed from your set-top box. But I agree, HDCP is a pain in the butt regardless and these studios seriously need to get their act together. However, as I see it now, there seems to be no easy compromise in sight…at least not soon.

sonicD says:

DRM Infected Vista?

Ed Bott on his Vista crusade makes for a funny flame war. Where DRM & Co is the white horse of the righteous who can do no wrong 🙂
But I think, the response of Gutmann (I could find only one to the first two Ed posts) should be included too:

John (profile) says:

Customer complaints?

And how long will it take for the customer complaints to build up? How many people buy a DVD, take it home, only to find out that it won’t play? Do they complain to the store where they bought it or do they just throw it out?

Does the store complain to the manufacturer (or studio)? or do they just write it off as “Won’t work for customer” without really asking why?

I would think that if enough people complained about their legitimately-purchased not working, and Hollywood execs got hit with millions of returned movies, then DRM would go away… or would at least be better made.

eng says:

Re: Typo?

No, ‘glitches’ is a plural word, hence it’s illustrate. Think about it, say it out loud, then use a singular instance, i.e. ‘Blu-Ray glitch illustrate DRM pitfalls’…sounds wrong doesn’t it? That’s because it is. If glitch is singular, then you need the ‘s,’ so it would be ‘Blu-Ray glitch illustrates DRM pitfalls.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Bad for business? Come on.. just ask the folks at M$. They have proven year in and year out that bad software, bad protection, unstability, forcing customers to upgrade constantly.. all wrapped up in a state-of-the-art bloated-as-hell POS operating system will give you a fortune.

I don’t care what anyone says…customers become dumb as hell when a new M$ product comes out and are always ready to throw their money out the window… *sigh*

People are stupid, get used to it.

FUD Buster says:

right because Opensource has never had bugs

WOW what a reach…
Blu Ray is still new.. and some comapnies are trying to make them cheaper quicker. Problems at this point of a new technologies life are common DRM or not.

Eveytime someone makes a reach like this they actually create more people who wonder if any of their arguments really hold water.

Sigh, I really hate then religion and technology mix..

James says:

Still too new

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD still seem too new, too expensive and TOO buggy (esp. w/the recent spate of DRM crap) to purchase.

This one is easy folks.. wait them out. How much DRM crappware or expense (or lack of compromise on one standard) will matter when they can’t sell their sh*t?

You want to punish Hollywood and the music industry for DRM? Don’t buy ANY media. No CDs. No DVDs. And no, don’t download and burn their media, either. When the $$ grinds to a halt and they are left holding CDs and DVDs they can’t sell, maybe they will re-consider things.

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