Saturday, March 04, 2006

imho DRM3


Found content:;jsessionid=MEKV5X5YPUNFSQSNDBCCKH0CJUMEKJVN?articleId=177100842&classroom=

My take:

DRM is another name for a new brand of all-pervading FUD. God, I thought spyware was bad enough. It’s not just the rootkits (a term you can now expect to see evermore preceded by the qualifier “evil” and used as a cultural shorthand for media mind control). It’s something that Andy Dornan alerts us to in his IT Architect column from last month, something that may be the same (I’m not sure) as the “DRM-equipped monitors” that Michel Labelle warns us about (without further details) in another point this DRM blogpost thread. Here’s how Dornan describes a DRM enforcement mechanism that will operate at the device-driver level in Microsoft Windows Vista (an article in which he, incidentally, refers to DRM as something forced upon us all by “those greedy media companies”):
  • “The greatest long-term threat is a hypervisor that enforces DRM, combining the code extensions in Intel's VT or AMD's Pacifica with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware. In the short term, Vista will ‘protect’ video content through driver revocation: Whenever the DRM in a particular model of graphics card is cracked, a security update will disable that card's driver. Anyone who happens to be using the same type of graphics card as a DRM hacker will be left in the dark until a new driver can be written and certified as DRM-compliant.”
Oh...thanks for the detail…let’s parse this now for the benefit of us analytical geeks (I’m just operating from the info presented by Dornan—I haven’t delved deeper into this Vista feature):
  • Microsoft will be able to selectively and unilaterally “revoke” Vista support for graphics-card device drivers.
  • Microsoft may revoke Vista support for a particular model of a graphics-card device driver in cases where somebody/somewhere has “cracked” the Vista-based DRM protections implemented in that card and/or its driver.
  • Microsoft’s partner ecosystem of graphics-card manufacturers are building card and drivers that implement publisher-driven DRM controls governing paying- and non-paying user display of video and other licensed visually-oriented content objects on monitors configured into machines that run Vista.
  • Microsoft is implementing a DRM-busting surveillance program under which it will determine the degree to which particular graphics-card manufacturers’ device/driver DRM approach has been “cracked” and, thereby, poses an imminent vulnerability/threat to video content publishers (including, I suppose Microsoft itself as a publisher) that demands immediate emergency action by Microsoft itself.
  • Microsoft will be able to selectively punish graphics-card manufacturers, their partners, and their customers suddenly, unilaterally, from a central point, and in bulk (i.e., potentially, millions of computers everywhere suddenly/mysteriously “going black") by “turning off” their monitors, for no fault of their own, but, rather, due solely to the fact that some pimple-faced kid in Kazakhstan got too smart for his own good and cracked manufacturer X’s DRM driver technology one lazy Sunday afternoon as part of high-school science-class project.
  • Microsoft is prepared to face the universal wrath of all the aggrieved parties, their lawyers, and the media for this action. I gather or infer from what Andy tells us.

Ponder all of that for a moment. Just think of universal computer blackout. Fear and Uncertainty, in the Dark (FUD). Yeah, that’s what the world needs now, FUD sweet FUD.