Western Digital Decides That You Shouldn't Be Allowed To Share Any MP3

from the why-is-that-WD's-decision? dept

Rich Kulawiec writes in to let us know about a Boing Boing post about some fairly ridiculous limitations on Western Digital’s networked drives. Apparently, once you’ve set up the drive, you can subscribe to a service that will allow others to access your drive from the internet (rather than on the local network). You can set up accounts for specific people, including highlighting what is available to be shared with that person. However, Western Digital has simply decided that under no circumstance can you share a variety of multimedia filetypes, such as mp3s, wmvs, aac or others. Its reasoning is that this is “due to unverifiable media license authentication,” which is basically a gibberish way of saying that you might be infringing on someone’s copyright. Of course, you might not be either. There are an awful lot of media files out there that are perfectly legitimate to share with others. Certainly, this sort of action makes this service useless to a musician who records tracks and makes them available to his record label using such a drive. The key question, though, is why Western Digital should bother at all. There’s certainly no legal reason for Western Digital to do such a thing — and all it does is make their drives a lot less useful for perfectly legitimate activities.

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Comments on “Western Digital Decides That You Shouldn't Be Allowed To Share Any MP3”

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63 Comments
Shohat says:

What 2 said

Mike, it’s clearly a case of the Scaredshitlessuitis.

Imagine WD, having to answer for 700 TB of shared media files to the RIAA and MPAA. I wouldn’t want to be WD in that case.
They would either have to block the service and answer to their clients (refunds/recalls/suits), or wage a legal war against the media giants, or even both – shutting down the service AND paying up.

They did the right thing here.

Haywood says:

Re: Re: wd drives suck compared to seagate

Western Digital used to have a great warranty. That is why I used them exclusively. Now they try mostly to get out of it. I got screwed out of a 250gb drive because it had already failed once and been replaced, the replacement only had 90 days. I was still within the 1 year period when the second one failed and they flat refused to replace it. Gone are the days; when if one of their drives failed you found one on your door step the next morning & all you had to do was call.

Sean says:

Screwing the little guy

When I bought some networked WD drives, I did take a look at that service – just the one look, mind 🙂 Anyone technically minded can setup remote-access themselves, so it’s really just WD screwing the moms and pops out there with some stupid, minimal-change last-minute addition. If they were really serious they’d include some packet-checking to watch out for banned content, but oh-no, that’d actually cost money.

Rich says:

What about all the other "Content"?

If they are worried about sharing mp3 files & being sued by the RIAA, etc, how about restricting jpeg’s so no child porn shows up? After all, the US government will prosecute for child porn, and it seems that going after the storage device would be smarter(?) than going after the distributor of the pictures, or at least that is what WD should be thinking if they are concerned about mp3 sharing. I think it is up to me to decide what I should and should not share, not WD.

Hidden Force says:

Re: Completely Arbitrary List

WD’s list of “forbidden” file types is completely arbitrary, illogical and ridiculous. They list .KAR Karaoke MIDI files, but not .MID MIDI files (even though .MID files often get takedown notices when they’re posted on websites). They list .IT, .ITZ, and .OKT tracker files, but don’t list .MOD, .STM, .S3M, .XM, .669 and many other tracker types, even though these file types are freely available on many tracker archive sites on which tracker musicians post their work for people to download.

Their blocking of JUST audio and video file types is also arbitrary itself, considering how many books are scanned and distributed in .PDF format by pirates.

Now, I am NOT encouraging WD to add these to the list, but rather that their completely arbitrary list of file types needs some serious consideration about what they are trying to achieve and what kind of legitimate file distribution they are restricting by blocking these file types. As Rich said, it shouldn’t be up to WD as to what files I distribute or not. If I want to share copyrighted material, then it should be me who faces the consequences.

Pope Ratzo (user link) says:

nonsense

This is inexcusable. Are you telling me that now the RIAA/MPAA is actually setting the rules for how the computer industry is going to work? As far as I’m concerned, this is an excellent argument for sharing as many major label releases on 0-day as possible, boycotting all purchase of music or DVDs except directly from the artist, in the hopes that the entertainment industry will finally collapse from the weight of its own self-importance. Trust me, if you love music and cinema, it will be doing the world a favor.

Maybe Western Digital should prevent the sharing of .doc and .txt files because they might be terrorist plans.

Apparently, they only thing they DO want us to share is our money with them, and our personal data, of course, so they can advertise to us.

We have become the consumables.

Wes says:

The PR alone was not worth it…. peoples first reaction to this is to blow it out of proportion and say “i’m not buying this or any product” (I’ll admit it was part of my reaction since I own exclusively WD drives) Putting this kind of doubt in the minds of consumers is not worth the cost benefit trade off of being sued. They pretty much erased a whole year of marketing with this move and catapulted themselves into the leagues of Sony with their rootkit crap.

Why on earth do companies think they can get away with this crap in 2007 (the information age)?

WarOtter (profile) says:

At first I thought to call shenanigans...

But then I thought, well, since it is not actually a technical limitation placed on the hardware itself, and just relegated to their service…

Think about it, all the news outlets are awash with news of MAFIAA actions against bittorrent sites, which in their minds can serve as facilitators or copyright infringement. So to avoid being put on the hitlist WD opted to just say no to media file sharing, but still making it relatively easy (renaming the file extension) to bypass for those not knowledgeable enough to set up their own remote access.

So anyway, I understand their position (if I read it correctly). The only thing to be mad about is the climate in which they have to put in restrictions on the type of file sharing out of fear of MAFIAA lawyers.

How could they get sued? says:

I'm puzzled

I can’t see what WD is trying to do with this idiotic service. By saying this service will block MP3’s they open themselves up to all kinds of liability whenever it fails. And it will fail. I don’t see how any court could hold WD liable for the content other people place on the products they sell to their customers. But offer a service that says you do ‘X’ then your product fails to do ‘X’ then the courts will rip your head off.

This is just stupid.

David McMIllan says:

The public should not be able to share!!!

People should not be trusted with server and websites out side the world of FarceBook, LiveJournal, and MySpace.(even those are filled with illegal activity and rapist) It has already been proven there is no market for independent artist sharing their own music for free, this logic is much like same type of lies the drug addicts are trying to use the for legalization of dope. Some are claiming marijuana can be used to make paper and cure the blind, these rare 1/2 truths are used to excuse the consumption of the worlds most dangerous drug.

It is also well know the producers of this music steal samples from legitimate artist, pirate the software used to compose and master tracks, there is also cases people taking full tracks then singing or “rap” over top it. Most of the music produced this way is a form called techno or trance.

This style of music is for the soul purpose of encouraging young children to use a highly addictive drug called methamphetamine, often sold under the street name ecstasy. A liquid form of the drug, “Liquid ecstasy” or GHB also used by these children for date-rape. People listening to trance are highly dangerous to the point that their gatherings or “raves” require paramilitary to break them up as in Utah August 2005. At this event the security staff where found to be in the possession of drugs and weapons.

Sure it is only music today but it’s child pornography tomorrow! You people will not stop till bankrupt this nation, both morally and economically. You might think it is your right to force your communist unAmerican ideals on the rest of us. But your lies and rhetoric kills children.

/sarcasm
Thank Big the G it’s Friday.

Overcast says:

GRRR, and I just ordered a WD drive too. I have always been pretty loyal to them, but crap like this..

Well, maybe I’ll try another brand next month when I need to get two new large capacity ones.

I’m curious too:

However, Western Digital has simply decided that under no circumstance can you share a variety of multimedia filetypes, such as mp3s, wmvs, aac or others.

Would this include company conference calls and the like saved in those formats? After all, there’s really no verifiable media license authentication on the sound files saved after conferences and such. hmmm – Certainly wouldn’t want those out on a Network Share!!

Guess WD drives shouldn’t be used in business either for those reasons – I’ll be sure to let management know 🙂 – Particularly before our core data center storage is upgraded. Too bad for companies like WD that some of us IT geeks who hate this stuff make major purchasing decisions, huh? And it’s easy to show why we shouldn’t buy from them, with ‘legalities’ like that. Just mention ‘legal’ issues to upper management and watch them run like roaches from any vendor who could be an issue.

Overcast says:

changing the filename to .txt works wonders. Only way i could download anything at my school, even .docs (the admin couldn’t find their ass with both hands and a map.)

Also sticking them in a .zip would do the same thing wouldn’t it?

Yeah, but if you’re dealing with some sales guy or accounting guy who careless about file types – then it’s usefulness goes right out the door.

You going to tell your Bosses’ boss that you can’t post his conference video because the software from Western digital prevents it? I’d think it would be considered a ‘bad choice’ to use that software at that point in time.

TheDock22 says:

Wait a minute...

I thought this service was being marketed towards corporations and businesses?

If that’s the case, then there really is no reason to share those types of file. The last place I worked we blocked MP3’s and AVI’s from being downloaded or uploaded onto the server (and since no one had a dedicated computer it worked well).

Tack (user link) says:

Five Questions

1) Will they be updating any existing WD NAS systems to also block MP3s or could one simply buy an older WD NAS and put larger drives in it?

2) Couldn’t you just flash the firmware in the newer WD NAS’s to use firmware from an older WD NAS?

3) If there are any older WD NAS’s that don’t block MP3’s, then aren’t they already open to be sued and therefore they’re not really protecting themselves from any lawsuit anyway?

4) If some random person (like, for example, me) has 2 desktops each with an 80GB HDD and 3 laptops with a 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB drive (I acyually have one I really use and it has 500GB, but that’s beside the point) and I wanted to store all my music on a single NAS and then access that music as I play it from elsewhere, assuming the music on the NAS is legally obtained, then what law did I break? This is no different than me placeshifting music via a slingbox or TiVo, and there is sufficient legal precedent saying that both of those are legal. Just the same, what if I have 10 licenses for Microsoft Office 2007 (I actually do have 3 legit ones, sadly) and I put an ISO on my NAS for MS Office and only install it 4 or 5 times. In that case, I have a legit CD Key and a legit license and a legit CD I put a single ISO from on my NAS. Would WD like to say no, I can’t do that, and force me to make an (in this case, illegal) copy of the CD to take with me so I can install it and use my legit licenses anywhere?

5) Did WD lose what little common sense they had left when they were designing the original 500GB desktop drives or was it way back at the 250GB ones?

Scheffy says:

Along the same lines then, they should block all .exe files. Could be a virus or spyware. In that case, block dll’s and ini’s and eml’s too. Also block anything that Photoshop can read since, you know, people Photochop crap together which could contain something copyrighted and god knows they don’t have the proper permissions for it all. Should also block all saved .html files and the like since they might contain swear words or pictures of sad bunnies, or (GASP!) maybe it would even contain message posts slandering WD themselves! Can’t have that filth spreading around that there interweb now can we?

Kevin says:

I bought it and regret it

I bought the 1TB drive – My World Book edition. I planned to share many old family videos that I’ve converted to mpg with family across the country… Oh well… I didn’t want to have to explain to my extended family how to use an FTP client so I thought this was going to be a great alternative and it would be if not for these restrictions. If anyone knows of any software that could replace the Mionet software that everyone here is referring to, please reply.

Ben says:

This Should Be A Precedent

I actually totally understand Western Digital’s actions. I work for a large auto manufacturer and we realize that our trucks are occasionally used to transport stolen goods. To combat this on our 2009 models, there won’t be any doors to the cargo area larger than a 13 inch tv. We just can’t take the risk that victimized home and business owners will sue us for facilitating burglaries. And for those of you with non-criminal intent, don’t worry the trucks will still have the same fantastic capacity they always have, you’ll just have to transport smaller items.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Craptastic

So now we have hard drive companies out there deciding which files we are and are not allowed to share with other people off our own computers. I make a QuickTime movie of my brand new puppy and want to make that available to my family to view remotely? Too bad. My hard drive company has decided I might be violating someone’s copyright merely because it’s a .mov file. I guess when it comes to copyright these days, everyone is presumed guilty until proven innocent (and then even if you do prove yourself innocent, it doesn’t matter since the hardware has built-in limitations that can’t be changed).

Anonymous Coward says:

A lot of overreaction here, this restriction is ONLY in the service you _can_ subscribe to that they offer to share tings across the internet.

“Apparently, once you’ve set up the drive, you can subscribe to a service that will allow others to access your drive from the internet (rather than on the local network)”

hence if you dont use their service you dont hit these restrictions. Its not going to stop you from moving mp3 files across a lan, uploading them to a server someplace, or any other way of sharing. Its just their service that prevents this. In short, don’t use their service.

Brad Eleven (profile) says:

re: nonsense

Pope Ratzo asked:

Are you telling me that now the RIAA/MPAA is actually setting the rules for how the computer industry is going to work?

It’s worse than that, Holy Father. Corporate interests are actually setting the rules for how the world works. WD’s response is, ironically, the fear-based, liability-aware response of one corporation to another’s predictable behavior.

WD’s lawyers have apparently decided that the corporation is liable for prosecution; a little extra ink is far less expensive than preparing defenses for perceived threats.

“…lawyers, guns, and money.” ~W. Zevon

Overcast says:

A lot of overreaction here, this restriction is ONLY in the service you _can_ subscribe to that they offer to share tings across the internet.

Well, let’s say – just for the sake of debate..

What if a company wants to share their last investor’s meeting to the web in MPG or AVI format? That’s not really rare – actually, I think it may even be required by the SEC. So in theory, they could get sued for that.

Guess that won’t happen, eh?

Western Digital shouldn’t be trying to ‘guess’ what a data file might contain.

What if I make my own videos – for whatever purpose… and want to share them? Am I’m screwed too?

Luckily – there are other ways to share information on the internet. This isn’t helping anything, it’s just retarded. All of the ‘pirates’ know dang well how to change file extensions, package in ISO/RAR/LZH/ZIP/TAR/ARC – compressed files, etc.

It’s just the ‘regular user’ who will be impacted.

Shun says:

WD services?

Apparently, this “feature” is offered through WD Anywhere Access, administered through MioNet. If you strip this program off, or never load it in the first place, you can use the 1TB drive just like a…1TB NAS drive.

OK, I know I’m coming late to the party, but there is a “solution” posted here which takes on this issue. It is not for the faint-of-heart however.

I don’t fall on either side of this. I tend to think that these kinds of gimmicky NAS systems are overpriced. Until the price comes down, and it’s easy to set up in Linux, I’ll stay away. At this point, I’ll just build my own NAS, with the components that I want. Maybe give the old WD a run for its money.

Coaster says:

what if I.....

I have the 500g WD, and have it shared throughout my home network with no problems. Now as I understand it, to access it over the internet, I have to set up a username and PW…so what would happen if I gave everyone I wanted to share content with the same PW? Would the drive think they were all me, or am I also blocked from viewing my content?

eh, I know, I’m too lazy to set it up and find out for myself.

Toaster says:

A lot of overreaction here, this restriction is ONLY in the service you _can_ subscribe to that they offer to share tings across the internet.

You miss the point. WD has no business telling my business what content it can share with others. If I put up training podcasts which I want others to be able to access on the network, what right does WD have to block it? In fact they are interfering with my business.

Also, if my business inappropriately fails to obtain proper copyrights, that should be my liability, not the service providers.

This entire area of copyright control is running amok.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s silly the amount of people bitching about WD internet share software. It’s not all that hard to see WD is only saving their asses and NOTHING more. P2P software has gone to court more then enough times WD just does not want to go through that.

So there is not a conspiracy theory about them serving the dark lords, RIAA and MPAA

Dis Gruntled says:

Burned once again!

Well once again I have been burned by a failed WD drive.

It has been like 8 years since I purchased and depended on WD hard drives, so much for giving them another chance.

About 8 years ago I think, I had 7 WD Caviar drives fail completely or have multiple bad sectors occur on them within one years time.

Last year I ran across their 160gb drives at Best B*y and decided to buy a couple for upgrading my Tivo’s, I swore after the first bad experience I would never buy another WD drive but thought I’d give them another chance.

I once again have been screwed by WD.

Judge for yourself but based on my experience I will never buy another WD drive as long as I live and am also persuading the company I work for ” annual revenues average 1.15 Billion ” to not use their products.

User Von Usage says:

Are you serious?

Being a quality guy for precision electronics like HD’s, I know WD always has been and will be junk. The fact that they now have the stones to charge folks for such limited service puzzles me. Do any of you think that a company large enough to need this service for sharing movies of meetings can’t do it themselves? Maybe not being liable for thier own crappy ideas, let alone warrantys and product, will put them where they belong. Bankruptcy. Oh wait. People are Still paying to get hosed like this.
I won’t

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