The Stealth Anti-Piracy Chip That Is Neither Stealth Nor Anti-Piracy

from the yeah,-nice-try dept

A bunch of folks have been submitting the story of Atari founder and wannabe restaurant mogul Nolan Bushnell claiming that computers are now shipping with a stealth “TPM” chip that will somehow stop software piracy cold. It’s not clear why this is getting much buzz, because as others have pointed out it’s not new or even noteworthy. It’s the same silly scheme that Microsoft, Intel and AMD have been working on for more than half a decade, though it’s gone through some name changes in an attempt to make it less controversial. It’s been out there for years, and has hardly been used to put any kind of dent in software piracy. But, in the end, the focus on it has really been for security, rather than anti-piracy, and that’s likely the way things will stay, as companies are learning (finally) that about the only thing anti-piracy measures do is piss off your legitimate customers. The non-legitimate ones will always find ways to get the software for free anyway, and so the only people it annoys are those who run into some sort of problem when the software accuses them of being pirates, despite having legitimately purchased the software.

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Comments on “The Stealth Anti-Piracy Chip That Is Neither Stealth Nor Anti-Piracy”

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Mike4 says:

Just what we need...

…another idiot coming along pushing their DRM on people. I’m convinced this a problem that will never go away and while it’s fun to laugh at these guys when their garbage gets cracked, it’s thoroughly annoying for legitimate customers to get screwed when trying to use their products they purchased legally.

“There is a stealth encryption chip called a TPM that is going on the
motherboards of most of the computers that are coming out now,” he pointed

Ok. I simply won’t buy any brand of motherboard that comes with this chip.
From that statement, however, it sounds like it’s not actually the
motherboard that comes with it, It actually sounds like the companies that
assemble and sell computers will somehow be adding it. If that is the case,
they are out of touch with reality, because I would bet that most pirates
and gamers are able to (and do) build their own machines. Even if they
don’t, how hard would it be to remove this chip (or flash it)?

Bushnell thinks that piracy of movies and music, however, is probably
unstoppable because “if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy

Good to see he’s not a complete moron

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Just what we need...

For one back in the day when they talked about this junk, It was supposed to be part of the CPU, BIOS, and OS.

Right now the mother boards that have the TPM chip allow you to turn it off in the bios. If you own Windows Vista you are not allowed to turn it off, because if you do, the system will blue screen of death on boot up.

Vista and the adoption of it is what is making this tech possible since people are willing to run the crappy OS.

Linux has the ability to turn on the ability to use it inside the kernel but it is not required. For Linux the module is called TC for Trusted Computing.

Victor says:

Re: Re: Just what we need...

“Right now the mother boards that have the TPM chip allow you to turn it off in the bios. If you own Windows Vista you are not allowed to turn it off, because if you do, the system will blue screen of death on boot up.”

This is simply not true, I’ve a Vista system and Infineon TPM chip and the plataform wasn’t even initialized, which is the first step. It is also disabled on the BIOS. So nothing new here even with Windows Vista, obviously we still maintain the control of our systems.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with any form of on board chip is that eventually game companies will have to say: “If you don’t have this, you can’t play our game.” If even a minor portion of computers out there do not have the chip, that loss of sales will almost guarantee that no game company will actually ship a game which excludes a portion of their potential sales.

As a game developer who has worked with the idiots that be for over 20 years, this sort of statement is actually well understood. The people running the companies are not idiots or morons, but they are sponges about what they hear and are told. Someone in the actual nuts and bolts (i.e. software engineer) explained just “enough” to some marketting wheenie without a clue who simply passes along enough to make it sound important and unfortunately the boss takes it at face value.

Being a buisness person in a tech industry is not easy, I give the most kudos to those that keep their mouths shut and just run a good company. I can forgive this guy since he probably got a seriouly happy picture of a no pirating future from a half assed explanation but with great happy face behind it. (Usually you can thank asshat marketting people.)

As much as I agree it was a stupid statement, I really can’t blame the guy unless he keeps spouting off about this. The downfall of most tech companies is a non-techie in charge insulated by too many layers of non-techies. It’s the same thing as is happening to the music industry, good buisness people without a clue to tech, taking input from non-techies who filter only the happy side of things to them.

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