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T-DOSE 2008 in review

by Sander Marechal

This year was the third installment of the Technical Dutch Open Source Event (T-DOSE). Just as last year it was held at the Fontys University of Applied Science in Eindhoven. This years speakers included Arnoud Engelfriet (European patent attorney) and Ywein van den Brande on GPLv3 compliance, Roy Scholten (Drupal), Bas de Lange (Syllable), Jean-Paul Saman (VideoLan), Jörn Engel (logfs), Bert Boerland (Drupal), Tim Hemel (TMTTD) and many, many other speakers. Unfortunately your editor was only able to attend on Sunday, but the talks were great. Here are the details.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News.

A dystopian future - looking beyond Windows Vista

by Sander Marechal

If the thought of Microsoft Vista's DRM restrictions, restrictive EULA, version confusion and user lock-in has you scared then you definitely do not want to know what the lads from Redmond have in store for the next version. If this patent application, covered by Groklaw here, is anything to go by then the next version of Windows, Vista+1 is really going to give you nightmares.

In simple terms it's a modular OS, much like Linux, whereby every package will have to be bought separately, has been heavily DRM'ed and will be licensed under different licensing terms. And I'm not talking about applications here but about things that people see as core OS functionality, such as basic networking, internet access, running multiple instances of one application, using an USB device (licensed on a per-device basis), etcetera. You'll even have to pay separately just to be able to install third-party applications or to use the new RAM you bought.

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection - updated

In mid-January 2007, Microsoft responded to some of the points in this writeup. Some of the material was new and interesting (for example clarifying just what actually gets revoked when a driver revocation occurs), other parts seem more likely to have come from Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft's PR firm) than Program Manager Dave Marsh.

From: Peter Gutmann.

DRM on audio CD's abolished

EMI has stopped publishing audio CD's with DRM. It is the last publisher to do so. This means no DRM audio CD's will be released anymore.

On her website the NVPI (Dutch music organisation) reports that EMI is the last publisher to abolish DRM. “The costs of DRM do not measure up to the results”. The DRM software has to be renewed constantly to fight cracking. In addition it didn't work very well. […] Another complaint came from consumer rights organisations. They complained that people could not copy CD's for their own private use while that is legally allowed [in The Netherlands].

By abolishing DRM it has become easier to publish mp3's on the internet. Yet, Brein [Dutch RIAA] does not worry about an increase in illegal mp3 distribution. According to Tim Kuijk from Brein DRM had no effect at all on the ammount of mp3's published on the internet.

Uploading and downloading of mp3's is here to stay, unless DRM technology is significantly improved. Honest people will always be honest people and DRM doesn't stop people who have ill intentions anyway.

From draconian rootkit-style DRM (Sony-BMG) to no DRM at all in one year. A definitive victory for consumers everywhere.

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

And that is just the least scary quote in Peter Gutmann's analysis of Vista DRM. In his analysis he paints the bleak picture of how Microsoft and Big Media are collaborating to cripple our computers by disabling output channels, crippling drivers, increasing hardware costs, decreasing system stability and ultimately revoking hardware.

At the end of all this, the question remains: Why is Microsoft going to this much trouble? [...] The only reason I can imagine why Microsoft would put its programmers, device vendors, third-party developers, and ultimately its customers, through this much pain is because once this copy protection is entrenched, Microsoft will completely own the distribution channel. [...] Not only will they be able to lock out any competitors, but because they will then represent the only available distribution channel they'll be able to dictate terms back to the content providers whose needs they are nominally serving in the same way that Apple has already dictated terms back to the music industry: Play by Apple's rules, or we won't carry your content. The result will be a technologically enforced monopoly that makes their current de-facto Windows monopoly seem like a velvet glove in comparison.

The worst thing about all of this is that there's no escape. Hardware manufacturers will have to drink the kool-aid in order to work with Vista: "There is no requirement to sign the [content-protection] license; but without a certificate, no premium content will be passed to the driver". [...] As a user, there is simply no escape. Whether you use Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 95, Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris (on x86), or almost any other OS, Windows content protection will make your hardware more expensive, less reliable, more difficult to program for, more difficult to support, more vulnerable to hostile code, and with more compatibility problems.

Surprises inside Microsoft Vista's EULA

The next version of Windows is just around the corner, so the next time we discuss software licensing in my course, the EULA for Vista will be front and center. You can read the Microsoft Vista EULA yourself by going to the official Find License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft page and searching for Vista. I know many of you have never bothered to read the EULA - who really wants to, after all? - but take a few minutes and get yourself a copy and read it. I'll wait.

Back? It's bad, ain't it? Real bad. I mean, previous EULAs weren't anything great - either as reading material or in terms of rights granted to end users - but the Vista EULA is horrendous.

From: The Register.

Microsoft Media Player 11 shreds your rights

Think DRM was bad already? Welcome to Windows Media Player 11, and the rights get chipped away a lot more.

WMP 11 will no longer allow you the privilege of backing up your licenses, they are tied to a single device, and if you lose it, you are really SOL. [...] This is nothing less than a civil rights coup, and most people are dumb enough to let it happen.

But it gets worse. If you rip your own CDs, WMP 11 will take your rights away too.

If the file is a song you ripped from a CD with the Copy protect music option turned on [...] You will be prompted to connect to a Microsoft Web page that explains how to restore your rights a limited number of times.

This says to me it will keep track of your ripping externally, and remove your rights whether or not you ask it to.

Then when you go down on the page a bit, it goes on to show that it guts Tivo capabilities. After three days, it kills your recordings for you, how thoughtful of them. Going away for a week? Tough, your rights are inconvenient to their profits, so they have to go.

What WMP 11 represents is one of the biggest thefts of your rights that I can think of. MS planned this, pushed the various pieces slowly, and this is the first big hammer to drop.

From: The Inquirer