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Intellectual "Property" in the Digital Age
Frank Field
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-REC New 'entertainment' PCs restrict copying
[6 hits, 5 votes, Average Rating 3.00] [Added: 3rd Sep 2002]

CNet News; John Wilcox; September 3, 2002. Now here's a product doomed to failure - Microsoft Windows XP Media Edition

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday released additional details about digital entertainment PCs coming for the holidays. But new anti-copying technology could hamper sales, say analysts and potential buyers.

The new consumer computers run Windows XP Media Center Edition , a variation of Microsoft's flagship operating system. Besides normal PC functions, Windows Media Center PCs offer a second user interface through which people can access the operating systems' digital media features via a remote control. HP, as well as Samsung, will start offering the new systems sometime before the holiday-shopping season, with HP's models selling in the high $1,500 range to around $2,000.

Microsoft sees Windows Media Center PCs as ideal for college students or young urbanites living in cramped spaces where a combination computing and entertainment system might be more appealing than separate devices. Besides digital photo, music and movie features already available with Windows XP, the new PCs also would serve as TV tuners and digital video recorders (DVRs) for copying TV shows to the computer's hard drive.

But Microsoft has included copy-protection with the operating system that uses encryption to lock recorded TV shows to the PC. Already, consumers can legally record television programs to VHS tapes for personal use and view them on another VCR in the household. Microsoft has taken a more conservative approach by thwarting the sharing of programs recorded digitally. That strategy might make sense as Microsoft attempts to attract Hollywood movie studios with its digital rights management and anti-copying technologies. But consumers may not react favorably to the copy protection, say analysts.

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-REC The fatal flaw inside MS's new Media Center PCs
[7 hits, 1 votes, Average Rating 10.00] [Added: 9th Sep 2002]

ZDNet Anchordesk; David Coursey; September 9, 2002.

If Microsoft's handling of digital-rights management in its new Media Center PCs is any indication, Redmond is perfectly happy to sell out its customers to keep the entertainment industry happy.

...That's where the catch comes in: The DVDs you burn can only be played on the same machine on which they were recorded.

... Whatever Microsoft's motives really are, I think that eventually consumers will inflict their wrath upon both MS and Hollywood. The entertainment industry needs to find new revenue models that reflect the realities of digital media and consumer preference. By kissing up to the Hollywood powers, Microsoft is only delaying the inevitable and siding with the bad guys against its own customers.

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-REC Top Ten Benefits of MS WinXP Media Edition - LawMeme Style
[7 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 5th Sep 2002]

LawMeme; Ernst Miller; September 4, 2002. Why NOT to use it. Excellent article with TONS of excellent links!!
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-Media Center PCs in the spotlight
[7 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 28th Oct 2002]

CNet News; Joe Wilcox; October 28, 2002.

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard plan to officially unveil the Media Center PC on Tuesday, but Sunday newspaper inserts leaked out pricing and model information ahead of the event.

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-Where do you put a Media Center PC? Beats me!
[6 hits, 1 votes, Average Rating 10.00] [Added: 6th Sep 2002]

ZDNet News; David Coursey; September 6, 2002. If even David Coursey doesn't like it, then there's bound to be trouble brewing for Microsoft. And we can be sure the TalkBacks will entertain!

For the past several weeks, one of Microsoft's better-kept secrets has been sitting in my den. And I haven't even opened the box. Why? Because I don't know where to put the darn thing.

But even if I did, I couldn't recommend or buy one of the forthcoming PCs based on Microsoft's new Windows XP Media Center Edition. Why? Because Redmond, trying to appease Hollywood , has burdened the machine with the Rights Management Scheme from Hell. Simply put: If you record a TV program on a Media Center PC and burn it to a DVD, that disk can only be read on the PC that burned it.

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-Why Microsoft caved in on copy protection
[6 hits, 0 votes, Average Rating 0] [Added: 9th Oct 2002]

ZDNet News; David Coursey; October 9, 2002. Amazing..

But Microsoft did not, apparently, learn from that little fiasco. When the company decided to add a personal video recorder to its new Media Center PC design, it designed the PVR so that content could only be viewed on the PC that recorded it. Which meant, for example, that you couldn't record a TV show, copy it onto a DVD, and view the disk on a consumer DVD player or another PC.

When this little design feature was announced (along with the first Media Center hardware), some people pretty much came unglued. The controversy over the digital-rights management issue drowned out the actual announcement of the new hardware (from HP, gorgeous but expensive, due in a few weeks) and ruined a few days in Redmond.

...The Media Center software has been changed so that now the copyright owner, not Microsoft, gets to decide whether a particular TV program will be "encrypted to the hard drive"--meaning, "unable to be viewed on a different PC or DVD player."

This is done by making the Media Center software cognizant of a television standard called Copy Generation Management System for Analog (CGMS-A). If a couple of bits in a program's CGMS-A settings are switched on, Media Center PCs will encrypt the program, making it unplayable on anything but the recording PC. Leave them unflipped, and the program remains copyable. Microsoft says its testing found no television programming with the encryption bits turned on.

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