Ben Laurie blathering

House of Cards

My friend Peter Gutmann has written a rather splendid paper drily entitled “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection“. What its really about is the increasingly baroque contortions Microsoft and others are having to indulge in to support the fantasy that DRM is actually possible.

The documentation is peppered with sentences like:

“It is recommended that a graphics manufacturer go beyond the strict letter of the specification and provide additional content-protection features, because this demonstrates their strong intent to protect premium content”.

This is an exceedingly strange way to write technical specifications, but is dictated by the fact that what the spec is trying to achieve is fundamentally impossible.

The bad news, though, is the despite its impossibility, hardware manufacturers are going to have to jump through expensive hoops, which we, the consumers, will be paying for. It will be impossible to avoid these extra costs, too, since uncertified hardware just won’t work. And all this so Microsoft can continue to feed the media industry’s fantasy that they can somehow prevent “illegal copying. Peter optimistically thinks this is going to kill Microsoft. Possibly so, but I predict death throes that drag on for years, if not decades.

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