Microsoft defend Vista's copy-protection systems

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Windows Vista logoMicrosoft has defended the high definition copy protection system built in to its Windows Vista operating system after critics said that the DRM systems put additional strain on CPUs and are ‘consumer hostile’.

According to BBC News, Peter Gutmann, a computer science lecturer at the University of Auckland, said that Vista was ‘broken by design’ and intentionally crippled the way it displayed video.

“The sheer obnoxiousness of Vista’s content protection may end up being the biggest incentive to piracy yet created,” he wrote.

The issue surrounds how high definition content is played back on devices that don’t support the HDCP (High Definition Copy Protection) system. If any part of the supply chain – from the optical disc player through the various interfaces, the video card to the monitor – doesn’t support this new standard, then the quality of video may be downgraded to a lower quality – around that of a PAL DVD.

DRM is nothing new, and Microsoft countered the claim by arguing that it will only enforce video downgrading if the content producers stipulate that should happen.

Dave Marsh, program manager for video at Microsoft, said that the systems they had put in place weren’t much different from those found on most playback devices.

Gutmann countered: “…if consumers have gone out and paid thousands of dollars on high quality, high resolution, high definition displays and find the content is downscaled or there is no picture at all, they are going to be very unhappy. Some of the feedback I have been getting indicates that HD-DVD discs are not playing on some PCs.”

(Via BBC News)

Related stories: CES 2007: DRM clashes set for centre stage | Yahoo offers MP3 download free from DRM | Anti-DRM day: October 3rd. Let’s protest!

Andy Merrett