Microsoft Agrees To Put A Copyright Cop On The Zune

from the not-quite-how-you-grow-your-market-share dept

Want to know exactly what not to do in order to build up marketshare against a formidable competitor? It's doing what Microsoft appears to be doing with the Zune: making it less useful for buyers. Remember, last month NBC Universal claimed that the reason it was keeping TV shows off of iTunes was because Apple refused to build a filter that would try to spot other unauthorized material and block it from getting on the iPod. So, with Microsoft announcing a deal to carry NBC TV shows for the Zune... the question had to be asked. And, yes, NBC is claiming that it went with Microsoft because Microsoft has agreed to build a copyright cop into the Zune. In other words, if you want the "legitimate" version of Heroes on your Zune, you may no longer be able to transfer lots of other content onto your Zune. This from the company that is already struggling to find people to buy a Zune.

It's difficult to figure out which side is making the bigger mistake here, so we'll just say that both companies are working hard to drag each other down. First off, Microsoft. Apparently not having learned anything from recent DRM debacles, building a special copyright cop into the Zune software immediately makes the device that much less useful. Any such filter will be more of a nuisance than anything else. While it may temporarily cause annoyance to some users, those who really want to get content onto their Zunes will figure out other ways -- so this will only serve to piss them off. And, in many cases it will (yes, it will) stop the perfectly legitimate transfer of content to the Zune. So, it won't serve the purpose, but it will piss people off. Why would anyone buy into that plan?

As for NBC, remember, we're talking about TV shows here. TV shows that the company already distributes for free. You want as many people watching these shows as possible. Stop worrying about "piracy" and focus on making it as damn easy as possible for as many people to watch the shows as possible, and just include a few non-intrusive, non-annoying (but very entertaining) advertisements in there and everything will be great. Pissing off the very people you're trying to get to watch your (free!) TV shows doesn't seem like a strategy that's going to make many fans happy. They have plenty of other options on what to do with their time. Even worse, making sure that the only way that owners of iPods (the dominant player in the market) can see your shows is to get them from unauthorized sources (of which there are plenty) doesn't seem particularly smart.

These are rather simple things that should be obvious to anyone online at this point. That folks at Microsoft and NBC Universal seem to not realize them gives you a hint of what direction both companies are heading in with this effort. Update: Microsoft is denying the NY Times story. Update 2: Microsoft PR points us to Microsoft's blog statement denying the story as well. Reading between the lines, it sounds like NBC brought it up and Microsoft basically said "we'll think about it," but hasn't promised to do anything.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright, copyright cop, media players, tv shows, zune
Companies: apple, microsoft, nbc universal

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2008 @ 2:05pm

    Re: The real reason

    Warren, why would that be the case? Everyone has the choice on whether or not they want to buy a TiVo and an HD subscription to a satellite company, and you can just pull the content right off there and cut the commercials out. Or you can leave it in the TiVo and press the skip button. The real reason to buy DVDs of any show is to have a box, a disc, and a few pieces of paper. There's no logical reason for NBC to worry about fueling more piracy (assuming it really is harmful) when one person with one DVR hooked into their HD satellite receiver is as equally effective at distributing the exact same thing.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.