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Cable Card DRM

Thomas Hawk responds to my “Media Center Tax” post with some great points.

Inside Microsoft also doubts that we will see copying restrictions for programming set into Vista. “if Microsoft did that, we’d all stick with Windows XP Media Center Edition, and never upgrade to Vista on our Media Centers, or alternatively, we’d use an alternative program that didn’t have such awful restrictions.” Here I’m not so sure that I agree though. The big trade off gambit is HDTV. You will not be able to get CableCARD supported HDTV without Vista. Vista has the DRM protection schemes in place which allowed Microsoft to get CableLabs to approve the Media Center PC as a device.

I hadn’t really considered the CableCARD angle. I’m just not sure what the DRM would do.

Would it prevent recording of channels like Starz, which have subscription services? I don’t think so, as preventing recording of whole channels has yet to be attempted, and would be a PR nightmare, as far as I’m concerned. Tivo took so much crap for deleting shows after a period of time, and Microsoft could never survive it. You pay extra for Starz. If you can record shows on broadcast networks and basic cable networks but not premium channels, you’ll cancel the premium channels. It wouldn’t be worth the money.

Would it delete the shows after a period of time? Maybe. That is plausible, since Tivo got away with it in the end.

Would it prevent transfering to a portable device? Not likely. Microsoft is desperate to beat the iPod with Portable Media Centers, and would not cripple them by preventing some TV shows from transferring because they want more money.

So, what sort of DRM can Microsoft apply to Cable Card without ruining Windows Vista Media Center and the Portable Media Center (their only hope of beating the iPod) in one fell swoop? If Microsoft allows you to do what you want within your home, while using strong DRM to keep your recorded cable content from ever making it to the net at large, that’s fine with me.

As long as they aren’t stupid about it, DRM shouldn’t break Vista, just create a balance between what users want to have, and keeping that stuff out of torrent networks. And if they are going to be stupid, I’ll stick with over-the-air HDTV for broadcast networks, and Bit Torrent HDTV for cable shows. Which works just fine for me right now.

January 5th, 2006 Posted by | Apple, General, Media Center, Vista, Windows, Windows Media, XP | no comments

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