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Will Apple Follow Microsoft's Lead to Restrictive DRM? 326

Posted by Cliff
from the inevitable-or-avoidable dept.
Steve Ryan asks: "The direction Microsoft are taking with Windows (for example, the DRM issues in Vista) have led me to believe Windows will soon be an OS which controls the user, rather than the other way round. I like XP, and I find it stable, but I do not want to upgrade to an OS (Vista) which is restrictive. This leaves me with either Linux or Mac OS X. I like Linux, but it may not work with my laptop, so I don't really want to risk it. OS X seems nice. I spend most of my time writing documents and surfing the web, so it should handle everything I want, and I would be happy to buy a lovely MacBook Pro. This leaves me with my question: Will Apple follow Microsoft's lead and implement a DRM loving policy?"
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Will Apple Follow Microsoft's Lead to Restrictive DRM?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:19AM (#17384534)
    "like Linux, but it may not work with my laptop, so I don't really want to risk it."

    Download a risk free Ubuntu Live CD and find out. I don't see what risks there are.

    "OS X seems nice. I spend most of my time writing documents and surfing the web, so it should handle everything I want, and I would be happy to buy a lovely MacBook Pro."

    Why spend $2000 on a laptop to surf the web and write documents? Most Linux distros come with Open Office and Firefox preinstalled, perfect for what you need.

    It sounds like you're just looking for an excuse to buy a Mac. It's true that Linux has some issues with laptops but there is no risk to try it out.
  • by Clockwurk (577966) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:23AM (#17384554) Homepage
    Every intel mac ships with a "trusted" computing module and apple uses DRM on every tune or movie they sell. You can't burn itunes tv shows to DVD, you can't transfer music from an ipod to a computer (easily), you can't transfer DRMd songs to any player but an ipod.

    Anyone that thinks Apple is better than Microsoft needs to take a history lesson. Apple acts exactly like microsoft, but is too small to be effective. Hell, the only reason we use PCs today and not macs is Steve Jobs wanted the whole computer pie and wouldn't settle for just controlling the operating system.
  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:33AM (#17384608) Homepage
    I think this thread boils down to a single issue: Microsoft's "Genuine Advantage" program is threatening to remotely self-destruct people's computers. Apple isn't.
  • by Baricom (763970) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:37AM (#17384640)
    There are alternative explanations. The content industry wouldn't release anything to Apple without DRM protection, and the only way TPM has been used so far is to make sure OS X only runs on Apple hardware. I'm not giving them an out, but these behaviors seem benign, relatively speaking. Consider the alternative:
    • Make sure you don't misplace your product key, in case you need to reinstall later.
    • Cross your fingers when Microsoft phones home during activation to discover whether you're worthy of using Windows.
    • Cross your fingers again as Microsoft checks whether you're a criminal every time you download patches.
    • Cross your fingers yet again as you wonder whether end-of-life means your purchase will no longer activate.
    • Remember to opt out of Windows Media Player's helpful tendency to DRM-infect files from CDs you rip yourself.
    • Consider whether PlaysForSure or Zune DRM is more likely to be future-proof.
    I don't deny that Apple might behave this way given the majority market share, but I think they're a long way from reaching that. If the tables are turned in ten years, I'll just do what I did to the Republicans: switch to the better candidate, even if that means Microsoft.
  • Not M$ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:49AM (#17384722)
    Apple has led, is leading and will continue to lead the DRM future. Intel is close behind because they created HDCP, the hardware level copying mechanism in use by HDCP compliant HDMI ports in current generation high-end monitors and televisions.

    Intel Macs now come with the beloved Trusted Computing module installed, and while most say that it is not used now, Apple is the only one deploying it widely to their user base. It will get used in the future.

    Apple is now, and will continue the move to a media platform. Such a move is going to require very tight control over the content that is deployed to the platform. The only way that Apple can assure content providers that their content is "safe" is by deploying draconian measures to be sure that we cannot really "own" the content that we "borrow" from the rights holders, be it movies, songs, TV shows or newspapers.

    Microsoft has less of interest in owning your content, sure they have to assure content providers that their content will not be used in improper ways - however their OS isn't targeted specifically to content creation and consumption. In reality, Microsoft can't really compete with Apple on completeness of media offering because they would be sued for anti-trust violations (and have).

    While Microsoft has incorporated HDCP support for high-def content, the drives to play this content for pc's still range in the 000's. You can be sure when Apple starts to ship macs with blue-ray drives that HDCP will become a requirement. You also won't notice that it's there because with exception for the macpro and mac mini there is little need for external displays.

    Interestingly, blue ray-discs may be encoded to play high def content via HDMI only at the studios discretion. Given that this capability exists today, Microsoft is not responsible for the movement to protect high def content.

    To be clear, MS is not leading this charge. It has been built into the blue-ray standard, the hardware connections, and boards of a wide range of devices. This is a ground up attack at our ability to move content around. The MPAA and RIAA figure if you make the hardware aware of the content, then you can police the content better. They might be right... only time will tell.

    If M$ does not deploy support for these standards then we will not have the ability to watch any of the content. The same will happen on OS X except that it will be less apparent due to the lack of HDCP compatibility issues across the most popular macs (MacBook, MacBook Pro). Apple will provide a better "user experience" because they control both the hardware and software that they sell to customers. Of course, Microsoft will look like the bad guy because they have little control over the hardware that ends up in consumers homes.
  • Wake up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:49AM (#17384726)
    Don't expect Apple or any other proprietary systems vendors to protect your freedom. They're not interested in your freedom.

    They are very interested in making and maintaining sweetheart deals with studios and record companies, so that they can be the middleman who sells the movies and music that those other companies put out.

    Only open systems can be expected to protect your freedom. Proprietary systems are by definition intended to take away your freedom to do as you wish with them. They are designed to remove your ability to modify them as you see fit. Your freedom is only guaranteed when source is available. Anything else is just a hope and a prayer.
  • The short answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:59AM (#17384770)
    This leaves me with my question: Will Apple follow Microsoft's lead and implement a DRM loving policy?"

    The short answer is "Yes."

    If you want to sell the Mac in the consumer market. If you want to compete with that Vista media PC from HP or Dell and it's 50 GB HD-DVD or Blu-Ray drive. If you want to sell that big HD wide-screen monitor.

    If you want to sell HD content through iTunes.

    The mwre title of the next and last Harry Potter novel became headline news worldwide. Think of what the video rights to that series alone is worth. Think of what it is worth to Apple.

  • Re:Step Up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ericdano (113424) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @02:50AM (#17385036) Homepage
    So why would someone want to run OS X on something OTHER than an Apple made computer? Do Mac owners want to deal with cheap hardware, driver problems, things not working? And what is the cost benefit? Like $100?

    No thanks. I'm perfectly happy with my iMac. No problems. However, my Windows XP PC......that is a whole other story.

    And what is wrong with iTunes? It has, by far, the fairest DRM. You can burn unlimited copies of the music (you are limited to a certain number per playlist, but you can make a new Playlist and do more). You can always burn a CD, and re-import it.

    Seriously, these arguments are old and tired.
  • by Mad Merlin (837387) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @03:59AM (#17385250) Homepage

    You comment that you don't mind spending $2000 for a new Mac so you can switch to OS X, but you don't consider the same scenario for Linux. So, why not consider plunking down $2000 on a ThinkPad and running Linux on it?

  • Re:Step Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:29AM (#17385368)
    So why would someone want to run OS X on something OTHER than an Apple made computer?
    To get the hardware that's right for them. Apple provides too few choices. For example, the only machine I would get for 'real' gaming, is the top one from Apple, because they don't have something in between that would allow me to use a decent graphics card.
    Do Mac owners want to deal with cheap hardware, driver problems, things not working?
    To be fair.. Often Apple hardware has issues often. Just do a Google on airport express cards, too much thermal paste causing the hardware to get too hot to touch, high pitch whining (many people can't hear that, but I can) etc.
    And what is the cost benefit? Like $100?
    Perhaps the benefit is that you know the hardware won't fail on you, and you know that you don't have to deal with Applecare's horrible service.

    And what is wrong with iTunes? It has, by far, the fairest DRM.
    The fairest DRM is SonicStage. Letting you create unlimited copies with the latest version, de-DRM them etc.
    You can burn unlimited copies of the music (you are limited to a certain number per playlist, but you can make a new Playlist and do more).
    You're not limited on SonicStage.
    You can always burn a CD, and re-import it.
    You lose sound quality that way.
  • Re:Laptop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:00AM (#17385670)
    Don't blame linux or os x for being "broken" when "broken" really just means "different". This is generally more a problem with old geezers/technophobes, but also a problem with people who are used to Windows's way of doing things. It's been said by some that the people who have the hardest time switching are the "power users", because they have a lot of knowledge of "how to do *somewhat advanced thing*" that isn't the same across OSes. An example would be something like changing the screen resolution, or maybe a bit more advanced, setting up a printer; or adding/removing users.
    I had a Windows nerd friend help me last weekend install Win XP on my intel Mac, and I spent the first 30 minutes educating him that Macs can indeed to all that and more, just not the way he is used to. In nearly every case, the Mac way is simpler, and more elegant, once you drop the preconceived windows-way of doing things and figure out how to do it on a Mac. I hate it when people try to apply Windows logic to a Mac (no, there still isn't a registry, get over it). This is the #1 reason behind all the Linux/Macs suck comments: blatant ignorance.
  • riiiight... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiseWeasel (92224) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:12AM (#17385692)
    Ever hear of kernel extensions and raw device access? OSX does nothing to prevent you from accessing your hardware. You can use Apple's fancy APIs if you want, but you can dig deeper if you prefer, just as you can in Linux or BSD. Windows Vista is the only one that has a protected kernel space, encrypted memory, and randomized memory locations, keeping the user locked away from their hardware.
  • Re:Step Up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:23AM (#17385726)
    So why would someone want to run OS X on something OTHER than an Apple made computer? To get the hardware that's right for them. Apple provides too few choices. For example, the only machine I would get for 'real' gaming, is the top one from Apple, because they don't have something in between that would allow me to use a decent graphics card.
    My 20" iMac is the best PC gaming machine in my house (out of two "real" pcs and 2 macs running Win XP). My PC's have better video cards, and faster cpu cycles, but are outperformed by the Core 2 Duo iMac. The Core 2 Duo in my iMac more than makes up for the inferior X1600 256 mb video card in the iMac. For example, I get over 100 fps in Live for Speed with maximum everything settings at 1620xwhatever resolution. Neither of my PCs can break 50 fps, with "superior" video cards. The X1600 isn't a spectacular video card, but it maxes out the last round of video game technology (Half Life 2 runs exceptionally well with everything maxed out and looks beautiful). So until games bring more to the table, the X1600 is just fine.

    Like you said, maybe there aren't enough choices for "YOU" but for me (and millions of others)the iMac to Mac Pro jump isn't a big issue. Stating the iMac isn't a viable video game machine because you can't upgrade the video card isn't a valid argument at this point, but may be an issue in the future. Unless you can point me to a game that is more demanding than Half-Life 2 with maxed out settings (I'm sure there are some, but I'm not exactly a hard core gamer), I would say the iMac is a GREAT gaming platform for 99% of the games available.

  • by LKM (227954) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:56AM (#17385852) Homepage
    APPLE WAS SUING TO REMOVE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS of a online person for publishing secrets about their products

    Uhm, no. Somebody working for Apple was leaking Apple's trade secrets, and Apple wanted to find out who it was. This had nothing to do with bloggers (Mac rumor sites usually aren't even blogs), freedom of the press or first amendment rights. Don't be stupid.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @07:25AM (#17385970) Homepage Journal
    ``an indsutry controlled company such as Microsoft.''

    Ey? Microsoft is an industry-controlled company? If there is _one_ company that doesn't have to care what anyone else says, or even dictate where the industry goes, it has to be Microsoft.
  • Re:Step Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @07:30AM (#17385986)
    My PC's have better video cards, and faster cpu cycles
    That isn't everything.
    but are outperformed by the Core 2 Duo iMac.
    So, how do they compare against Intel Core 2 Duo PCs with better graphic cards?

    Because I some how doubt they are going to give worse performance.

    Neither of my PCs can break 50 fps, with "superior" video cards.
    Graphic cards aren't everything, you need fast RAM, a motherboard that can support RAM at such speeds etc.

    Stating the iMac isn't a viable video game machine because you can't upgrade the video card isn't a valid argument at this point, but may be an issue in the future.
    I still have x86 computers from seven years ago, I upgrade them a bit still, because they're capable of doing more. None of my Macs have even survived this long (mostly due to hardware issues, but also because they're becoming utterly useless in what they can do).

    Unless you can point me to a game that is more demanding than Half-Life 2 with maxed out settings (I'm sure there are some, but I'm not exactly a hard core gamer)
    Second life [secondlife.com] -- Just try all the settings maxed out.

    I would say the iMac is a GREAT gaming platform for 99% of the games available.
    Perhaps. But then again, I don't really see how it's superior to most modern PCs (with similar specs) for sale out there.
  • Re:Step Up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @08:34AM (#17386236)
    And what is wrong with iTunes? It has, by far, the fairest DRM.

    Pardon my bluntness, but that's really no different than asking what's wrong with lethal injection because it's, by far, the least painful method of execution. But regardless of the method you're still dead, just as regardless of the DRM, you're still restricted.

    You can always burn a CD, and re-import it.

    Wrong! You can burn a CD and re-import it until Apple decides you can't. And that mere possibility is more than enough to make it entirely unacceptable.

    Like you, I'm happy with my iMac. However, that does not mean I think Apple can do no wrong, and neither should it mean such for you.

  • Re:Step Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @09:37AM (#17386650) Homepage Journal

    Having had both PowerBooks and Thinkpads, I much prefer the hardware of the latter. So much so I ended up switching back to GNU/Linux because despite the superiority of Mac OS X, a T60 + GNU/Linux was a better choice for me than a Macbook + Mac OS X. But a Thinkpad + Mac OS X would have been even better.

    You know, I know there are some people there who seriously believe that there is no computer out there that hasn't been bettered by Apple, but honestly, I can't understand the attitude beyond inane fanboyism of the Amiga variety. Apple's hardware has always been interesting, but to argue it's always been superior to absolutely everything requires a deliberate blindness to reality that's hard to fathom.

  • by amichalo (132545) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:28AM (#17387036)
    This is how I see the three platforms measuring up:

    LINUX - Since it doesn't embrasce DRM, content providers are not interested in supplying their creative to it. This means only non-commercial or very small indy media would be available. Further, since Linux is more of a "hacker's OS" it isn't well suited for households where a non-tech may want to jump on the web or download photos from the family digital camera. No Thanks.

    Windows Vista - "DRM isn't just for music any more." This should be the Vista theme. Actually it has started a while back. I love how MS office refuses to register becuase the key has been used too many times - no matter the computer hasn't changed, just been upgraded with more RAM and newer hard drive. But MS can't even decide on one DRM schema so they implemented "PlaysForSure" AND a non-compatible "Zune" DRM schema - THIS IS MORE FREIGHTENING! If the DRM provider stopps supporting the DRM content you are SOL. ONE THING IS FOR CERTAIN - Either the Zune will fail or Plays FOr Sure will fail (is it too soon to think both have already failed?) and those who bought DRMed content and expensive players will have nothing to show for it. Which leads me to...

    Apple OS X - Making a DRM choice is important. One thing I like about Apple is that there are no license keys to type in. There is no "registering with big brother" even for high end software. Plus Apple is REASONABLE - $129 for a single OS upgrade or $199 for a 5 license Family Pack! Apple doesn't rely on DRM to secure their software, only the media that Apple doesn't even supply. Apple fought for user rights when they negotiated DRM with the RIAA and in my opinion, the rights are pretty good. I can still burn mixed CDs to give to friends, I can play on my work, home, and laptop computers - be they Mac or Windows - and I can use on a variety of iPods. I don't pretend to have super human ears or need OGG support and since I find the convenience of iTunes out weighs the "quality" of buying the CD/DVD I have settled into enjoying the DRM Apple is selling.

    This is my opinion. I have switched from Windows to Linux to the Mac and I don't see myself switching again until Windows, Linux, or another OS make radical advances.
  • Re:Step Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:14PM (#17391334)
    Ok. This is a bad comparison. So you'd rather not kill people who, with a jury of their peers, and after appeals, everyone says should be killed. People who rape and kill little kids. Yeah....

    Jeez, sorry! I wasn't trying to make a social statement about the death penalty or anything; that wasn't the point. Think of it from the person-to-be-killed's perspective, or better yet, replace it with dying in your sleep. "Whether you die in your sleep, drown, get shot, or catch a horrible, painful disease, you're still dead" is the kind of argument I was trying to make.

    The point was that all DRM of the same kind, so regardless of extent the end result is equally bad: you don't fully control the property you bought and paid for.

    Where is your evidence to suggest that Apple is NOT going to let you do this?

    I don't need evidence! The mere fact that it's possible is enough to condemn it! Why are you having such difficulty understanding that?

    Look, I agree that Apple as it is currently managed isn't likely to do this. However, there is no guarantee whatsoever that Apple will never change into something much less friendly. Some people distrust Google (despite the "do no evil" motto) simply because it can have so much access into people's private data. Some people even distrust Richard Stallman and the FSF, and refuse to use the "or any later version" clause with the GPL because RMS might somehow morph into a Gates-esque lunatic and re-write the license to take away freedom instead of preserving it. I distrust Apple because I see no legitimate reason for it to hold the keys to my own property. Is that so hard to understand?

    Apple's track record is quite good. Compare it to Microsoft. It's very good.

    As I just said in response to another post, that's like saying "compared to Stalin, Fidel Castro is quite good" (disregarding for a moment, Mr. Pedantic, the political merits (or otherwise) of communism). You can't just measure on a relative scale; you have to measure on an absolute one too. I agree that Apple is better than Microsoft regarding DRM, but they're both unacceptably bad compared to, say, the EFF or FSF.

    I don't see Apple screwing around with it's EULA because it would cause a huge uproar in the user base.

    Apple already screwed with the EULA once, when it reduced the number of CDs that could be burned from the same playlist. Yes, I'm aware that it raised the authorized computer limit at the same time, but that's not the point. The point is that Apple can make any change at any time, arbitrarily, and with or without your consent. And that change retroactively applies to the media you've already bought, so you have no oppertunity to opt out. Sure, maybe you liked the last change, but there's no guarantee you'll like the next.

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