Welcome to DRM hell

I have a very serious feeling of betrayal. Apple switching over to Intel means that the last mainstream platform that was up to now relatively free from hassling restrictions of digital media handling will be assimilated by Hollywood. Intel builts “Digital Rights Management” right into its processors in the next CPU generation. As long as Apple could maintain its own CPU base, there was hope that for the creatives, who are the core customer group of Apple, there would be an option to work without constant hassle and restrictions on the freedom of re-using media. Now that hope has ended. Hollywood has won.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to DRM hell

  1. Jeck Pixelbrei

    An interesting quote regarding this aspect comes from the piece Going for Broke, wherein a Robert X. Cringely explains that Apple and Intel will merge to dethrone MS. (Found via /.)

    Question 5: Is this all really about Digital Rights Management?

    People “in the know” love this idea, that Hollywood moguls are forcing Apple to switch to Intel because Intel processors have built-in DRM features that will keep us from pirating music and movies. Yes, Intel processors have such features, based primarily on the idea of a CPU ID that we all hated when it was announced years ago so Intel just stopped talking about it. The CPU ID is still in there, of course, and could be used to tie certain content to the specific chip in your computer.

    But there are two problems with this argument. First, Apple is already in the music and video distribution businesses without this feature, which wouldn’t be available across the whole product line for another two years and wouldn’t be available across 90 percent of the installed base for probably another six years. Second, though nobody has ever mentioned it, I’m fairly sure that the PowerPC, too, has an individual CPU ID. Every high end microprocessor does, just as every network device has its unique MAC address.

    So while DRM is nice, it probably isn’t a driving force in this decision.

    PS: A “preview” feature on this blog would be nice…

  2. Frank

    This argument overlooks a very critical transition phase that is ahead of us – the move to HD video. Intel CPUs, especially the Pentium D contain much more then a CPU ID. It is a whole crypto-coprocessor designed exclusively for making sure that you can have HD movies playing only on the machine they have been licensed for and be shown only on a display that is licensed to decode them. The mechanisms built in there are for instance good to make sure that certain operating systems can only be booted when a certain key is present inside the CPU – very convinient for Apple to make running OSX on generic PC hardware very unlikely. Mr. Cringley, as much as I like his writing on other topics, is apparently not very well informed on the technical side of things here.

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