Recently, HBO's CTO "Bob Zitter" decided that he didn't like the term "Digital Rights Management". He thought it was misleading and scary. His alternative (no I'm not making this up) is Digital Consumer Enablement (DCE).
This is so stupid it is scary. To quote Ed Felten:
Zitter went on to discuss HBO’s strategy. HBO wants to sell shows in HighDef, but the problem is that many consumers are watching HD content using the analog outputs on their set-top boxes — often because their fancy new HD televisions don’t implement HBO’s favorite form of DRM. So what HBO wants is to disable the analog outputs on the set-top box, so consumers have no choice but to adopt HBO’s favored DRM.
Which makes the nature of the “enablement” clear. By enabling your set-top box to be incompatible with your TV, HBO will enable you to buy an expensive new TV.
In 2009, so the story goes, the US airwaves are to be devoid of low-def signals and everyone in the country will need to buy a new television. I somehow doubt that the federal government will force everyone in the country to buy a new television.
However, the ramification here is that there will be no standards for DRM (or DCE) and that various entertainment companies could require personalized descramblers to get their product.
Given that I only watch baseball and the Food Network, this isn't going to impact me much. I haven't had HBO since the 80s and feel no personal loss.
What worries me is that this would likely mean that for all users (myself included) Internet-based broadcast media will skyrocket in popularity. I can get all the HBO movies downloaded from Amazon or iTunes anyway. This means massive bandwidth usage for bloated multimedia content.
I know I'd be using it too. It's just inevitable.
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