September 12th, 2002, 07:37 AM
The fatal flaw inside MS's new Media Center PCs
If Microsoft's handling of digital-rights management in its new Media Center PCs is any indication, Redmond is perfectly happy to sell out its customers to keep the entertainment industry happy.
What I'm talking about are features built into Windows XP Media Center Edition that let some next-generation PCs act like TiVo-esque personal video recorders (PVRs). The first Media Center machines, due before Christmas from HP, also come with a DVD burner. That combination means you can copy TV programs you've recorded using the PVR features from your hard drive to DVD.
"Microsoft says it's designed the Media Center this way to block the "wholesale" copying of copyrighted material. But--stop me if I'm wrong--I always thought "wholesale" referred to one person making a million copies of something and selling them, rather than a million people copying a single program for their own private use."
THE CHALLENGE IS for Microsoft to solve the rights-management problem in a way that consumers will accept (hint: lots of "fair" use), yet prevents thieves from getting rich off someone else's intellectual property. For example, Microsoft could have designed the system so that DVDs burned on Media Center machines could play on any DVD player, but be impossible to copy.
(Or maybe it won't really be impossible to copy Media Center DVDs: When I asked an HP rep about the DVD "problem" I was told--with a wink--that his company didn't think consumers would worry too much about the copy protection. Which I interpret as: "Easily downloadable hacks available everywhere soon!")
thanks to Winbeta for originally posting the article