WTF this is getting ridiculous
LAST week’s exclusive story in The Business that Microsoft was developing “one-play” DVDs was followed up by media around the world. It also sparked a bushfire of debate across the internet by thousands of web bloggers, with many claiming this newspaper had been hoaxed.
The front page story revealed that Microsoft’s new disposable, pre-recorded DVD discs would help Hollywood combat film piracy. Some online pundits applauded our report; but other do-it-yourself online journalists, known as bloggers, chose to vilify and ridicule instead. One blogger going by the unlikely name of Ed Bott claimed to have carried out a piece of investigative journalism of his own to prove the story was a “hoax”. Though dismissed by other online commentators, Bott’s blog found favour with a hard core of dissenters on the internet.
The Business has bad news for Bott and his followers: Microsoft has confirmed the story. Last week’s story, headed “Microsoft invents a ‘one-play only’ DVD to combat Hollywood piracy” was based on an unamed source. It reported that the new DVD discs would be burned to play once only. But this weekend the newspaper’s sources are no longer unamed. Alistair Baker, Microsoft’s UK managing director, told The Business: “Microsoft’s digital rights management [DRM] software generates a licence key to give the DVD content owner total control over how the content is viewed. This could mean watching a film only once, or over a limited period.”
Baker explained that Microsoft’s software would enable the DVD producers to control whether viewers watched it once or several times or for a few days only. He added that the software could also determine at what times the film could be viewed. According to Baker, there is a growing demand for parental control over what children watch and when. “It is also theoretically possible to control what times of the day the discs can be watched so that children, for example, only have access to a movie when their homework is done but before their bedtime,” said Baker, who has extensive knowledge of Mircosoft’s research work. The digital rights management software is embedded in the new generation of high-definition DVDs at the point when the movie is recorded on it. The new discs should not be confused with earlier industry attempts to make a disc that physically self-destructed after being played. Microsoft’s labs are working on rights management as part of a push to upgrade Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which powers most of the world’s computers, on to DVD players and digital televisions.
According to industry sources, the new DVD players are expected to be available by 2006. “Playing DVD discs using new digital rights management software will necessitate new DVD players from manufacturers like Toshiba supporting high-definition DVD and running Windows CE,” said Baker.