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* Sunday, December 26, 2004

DRM Locks Out Library Patrons?

DRM at Its Worst? Here's a Prime Example

"DRM is actually a part of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system and has been for a while, but it wasn’t until I picked up a DVD recently that I witnessed the ugly and very user unfriendly side of DRM in person. The DVD in question, T2: Extreme DVD, produced by Artisan Home Entertainment Inc., is a two-dvd disk set, which holds a digitally optimized version of the T2 movie on one disk, and a high definition version of the same movie on the second disk, encoded in WMV9 format....

Unfortunately, after trying to play the DVD back with Windows Media Player 9, I couldn’t get it to work. For some reason I needed to install a 3rd party application, InterActual Player, that was required to play back the content. I was a bit surprised as to why I needed to install InterActual Player as it clearly says Windows Media Player 9 on the cover. Why can’t I simply play the content back without having to install yet another application? But then it became quickly apparent that I did not only have to install and download an update for the InterActual Player over the internet in order to facilitate playback, but would also need to acquire a license. So obviously the WMV9 content on the DVD was protected by DRM and could only be unlocked after connecting to the license server to obtain a license, which it failed to do. I was surprised to find that it failed to give me a license as it had determined that my physical location was not in the US or Canada. Apparently the content was only to be played back in either one of these countries and nowhere else. After routing my IP address through an anonymous proxy server in the US I however managed to unlock the content just as well and was presented with a license agreement I had to agree to prior to being able to play the content back.

That agreement, amongst other things, stated that I could only play back the content for a period of five days, on the computer I installed the InterActual Player application onto, after which I had to re-acquire a license. To be honest that really pissed me off, I spent about an hour trying to play back a disc I legitimately bought and went as far as installing and updating a 3rd party application to my system that would allow me to do so, and now I’m only being given a temporary license, where’s my rights as a consumer?... Shame on you Artisan Home Entertainment Inc. and may this serve as a prime example of DRM at its worst." [Hardware Analysis, via Slashdot]

I wonder if any libraries bought this title. Unfortunately, looking in just my local catalog, SWAN, some did. I wonder how their patrons are faring trying to access these features. Would you go through all of that to watch a movie? I sure wouldn't.

Whatever did happen to fair use and the right of first sale in the digital world? I miss them.

Side note: I've almost got my new Treo 650 loaded with the software I really need, but I'm having a problem getting the Audible software for audio ebooks up and running on the new laptop. According to Audible, they can't activate the Treo or the desktop software because I'm over my allotted number of activations. Say what?

We have three desktop computers in the house, I used to download Audible titles at work, and I'm typing this post on the second laptop I've used at home. Who knew I was restricted to fourthree instances of AudibleManager? Must have been in the fine print that wasn't so fine.

At first, I thought I would be okay because Audible has a nifty option that lists all of the activations that they have on file for you and lets you choose which one(s) to de-activate so you can activate the new one. Great, except that whatever code is running the whole shebang won't let me actually deactivate any previous activations.

So now I'll have to contact their tech support and ask them to kindly de-activate a previous activation for me, just so I can load titles I already bought onto my new device using my new laptop. Thanks, DRM!


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Tracked on January 4, 2005 05:47 PM