You will know them by their fruits

Wednesday, 1 Feb 2006 [Friday, 3 Feb 2006]

James Robertson:

The interesting aspect is what they decided to keep: updated file system? Nah. DRM that hoses off people with existing display devices and legally owned content? Yeah, that needs to stay in.

This appeared on Boing Boing and has been linked all over, but it bears quoting. Cory Doctorow:

Microsoft’s DRM requires that device makers pay Microsoft a license fee for each device that plays back video encoded with its system. it also requires every such vendor to submit to a standardized, non-negotiable license agreement that spells out how the player must be implemented. This contract contains numerous items that limit the sort of business you’re allowed to pursue, notably that you may not implement a Microsoft player in open source software.

The bombshell was Amir’s explanation of the reason that his employer charges fees to license its DRM. According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out “hobbyists” and other entities that Microsoft doesn’t want to have to trouble itself with.

I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company’s strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators rather than maximizing its profits through producing a better product and charging a fair price for it.