by Timothy Lee
Fri, Dec 21st 2007 6:04pm
Macrovision "chief evangelist" Richard Bullwinkle has an article at News.com that's a bit of a head-scratcher. He sings the praises of Apple's iPod ecosystem, but then complains that Apple's DRM prevents content from being played on non-Apple devices. Consumer electronics manufacturers and content creators, he says, need to "work together to create standards" for digital media. That's music to my ears. Except that I suspect that Bullwinkle isn't actually talking about open standards. Macrovision, after all, is a DRM vendor. If companies wanted to distribute their music or movies in open formats like MPEG, they wouldn't need Macrovision's help to do it -- they could just ditch DRM altogether (which, clearly, Macrovision doesn't want). What Macrovision appears to be pushing for Apple and other vendors to switch to its own "open" DRM format. But in fact, there's no such thing. DRM is a walled garden by definition. Some walled gardens are easier to get into than others. The DVD format, for example, has been licensed to a bunch of different vendors. But that doesn't change the fact that there's still a DVD cartel that shuts down innovative devices they don't like. An even more egregious example is Microsoft's "interoperable" PlaysForSure format. Microsoft touted it as an "open" alternative to FairPlay until last year, when—surprise!—they decided not to allow people to play PlaysForSure media files on the Zune. Ultimately, Macrovision isn't interested in getting rid of walled gardens. It's just upset when it's not the gardener.
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