When DRM goes wrong

Just imagine what might happen if Microsoft’s DRM gets adopted for movies, music and other media…. In addition to a lockout, Michael Gartenberg realized that the software was making unauthorized connections back to the mothership to keep itself up to date… You need Little Snitch, Michael — too bad it’s Mac only.

I was going to do some reading this evening on my computer. I had a copy of the Devil’s Banker in Microsoft Reader format. When I tried to open it though, i got a message that informed me that that the security software had been updated and that I needed to update. No problem, I go to the update page but it tells me, I’m updated and activated just fine. Except, I’m not. The e-book won’t open. I try to activate the reader again and the fun gets more interesting. I get a note saying that my acc’t only has six activations and all of them are used. Let’s see, by my count, I have two laptops and one PocketPC active. That would mean three activations left (and of course, the COMPUTER IS ALREADY ACTIVATED)… Yikes. Pulling up my PocketPC, I get the same infuriating message but it does activate again and the book opens there (but still not on my computer).

Bottom line. MS Reader is DRM at its worst. Unlike competitive solutions, like iTunes, Reader won’t let me authorize AND de-authorize a computer. Yes, you can request more authorizations from MSFT, but that’s sort of useless when you’re trying to read a book. I’m staying away from Reader at this point and going to use Palm Digital Media that has a far friendlier DRM that’s never locked me out of my content yet. Like most users, I have no objection to DRM, it’s necessary to prevent abuses but should never, ever be something a legitimate user should bump into, like i kept bumping into tonight. I better go read that book on the PocketPC before I get locked out again. If anyone at Microsoft is reading this, you guys really need some help here in terms of best practices…[Michael Gartenberg]

I had not considered this as an issue as it has yet to happen to me with my DRM-protected content. I’ve been looking at the Microsoft DRM solution as a more severe lockout… I use a Mac and it won’t work for me, period. Music, Books and Movies need to be able to enjoyed on a variety of platforms as there are a variety of computer choices in this world. I think most people would agree, though Jack Valenti (now retired MPAA lobbyist and professional Asshole) certainly thought otherwise.

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