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Vista DRM blocking legal video downloads

updated 02:50 pm EST, Fri January 4, 2008

Vista DRM and Netflix

Windows Vista's increased anti-copying protection is already leading some customers of movie services to find themselves locked out of content they have legal rights to watch, users are reporting today. Netflix subscriber Davis Freeberg notes that his access to the movie rental service's Watch Instantly online feature was cut when he upgraded to a newer display that could play HD-level content but did not support HDCP encryption; to regain access, he would have to grant Microsoft's DRM system free reign to scan his system for videos regardless of their source, according to Netflix support staff contacted regarding the problem.

In addition to its invasive nature, it could also potentially affect other content legitimately bought or rented content. Should it detect videos using the same Windows Media format that lack the expected keys, the Microsoft system may bar access to third-party videos. A collection of videos from Amazon's Unbox service could be disabled in attempting to get the Netflix collection to work properly, Freeberg notes. Netflix has reportedly asked the author to downgrade to a lower-resolution display to ensure he can view movies from multiple services.

Though Microsoft has not commented on the issue, the incident underscores limitations imposed by movie studios and agreed to by the Windows creator in Vista, none of which are currently in effect for earlier versions of the OS or for alternatives such as Linux or Mac OS X. HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Copyright Protection) is a feature included in Vista and many more recent displays and video cards meant to automatically block or lower the resolution of protected movies when compatible hardware is undetected, preventing image-perfect movie copies by pirates and others hoping to capture the raw video output.

Formats such as Blu-ray and HD DVD can optionally use the technology to prevent disc rips but have not yet implemented the technology on a significant scale. However, the technology is considered necessary for full support and may be added to operating systems such as Mac OS X Leopard to accommodate playing back certain HD videos.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. howiethemacguy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007

    +1

    So typical...

    This just shows that M$ has to have their hand in everything consumers do on their PCs. This doesn't suprise me at all and, it's yet another reason to switch to the Mac. Apple doesn't have these stupid restrictions.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    not just vista

    This isn't a Vista-only problem. It exists in XP, as well in all sorts of hardware. My two-year old Directv HD box has a DVI port that won't talk to just any DVI connector, as it's got HCMP (I believe) requirements. And VCRs had macrovision protection for ages. It's all the content owners trying to prevent piracy.

    Which, BTW, is probably why Apple has yet to jump on the Blue-Ray bandwagon.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: so typical

    This just shows that M$ has to have their hand in everything consumers do on their PCs. This doesn't suprise me at all and, it's yet another reason to switch to the Mac. Apple doesn't have these stupid restrictions.

    Apple also can't play Netflix video. In fact, I don't think you can play any HD-DVD or Blue-Ray on a mac at the moment.

    And as you all say with iTunes and DRM, MS is forced to play by those rules.

  1. chrisco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2005

    0

    Sigh HDCP...

    On the one hand, it sounds like it's the buyer's ignorance in choosing a display with HDMI that doesn't support HDCP and wanting to use it for HD video. Consumer boxes like HD DVRs and HD DVD players also require HDCP for sending digital HD video via HDMI on the display or TV.

    On the other hand, stripping the DRM from Amazon and other legal video files to allow Netflix video files to play is a serious flaw in Vista's handling of things.

  1. ender

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 1999

    +1

    usefulness

    I question the usefulness of this type of copy protection. So if you don't have a "compliant" display, it downgrades the resolution. But to what? Is is DVD resolution? And do they really thing people pirating movies care about that? They are still going to prirate movies, and people are still going to steal them, even at the lower resolution.

    I'm just not convinced that this level of draconian copy protection is really going to cut down on the piracy.

  1. Double_UK

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2000

    0

    War is over.... ?

    ... Xbox 360 with an HD DOA drive built-in...

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: usefullness

    Yes, it cuts it to DVD resolution.

    It's just the MPAA's way of trying to make sure no one is capable of making any type of copy of any type of media, because we're all thieves and copyright offenders!

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007

    0

    yeah!

    and nobody thinks about suing MS. Why should they? they'd probably lose anyway, just like the US Antitrust suit that gave the giant MS a little slap on the wrist.

    now now mr.gates, you be good... go out with yall friends and play nice.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +1

    SIMPLE

    if i want to watch a hd movie and i cant watch it hd quality then i would download it at a lower quality for free and simple some how it must encrypted before goes to your screen and their must be a code stored for this some ware the image can not be displayed encrypted unless they have installed the decryption code in your head so bottom line some will break it u have to take the hardware home with well some will just buy it take it apart figure it out and publish their findings it would be different if all you had was a encrypted email and the key was out of reach but the key is in are under are nose as we walk out of best buy as computers get faster and faster and we have stuff like linux to run on em it will get easier and easier to break so drm is doomed to fail

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