For years, gamers have complained about Ubisoft’s (UBI.PA) poor implementation of DRM for its PC games to no avail. But in an interview published by RockPaperShotgun, Ubisoft worldwide director of online games Stephanie Perotti says that Ubisoft has, since June of last year, quietly ended its “always-on DRM” for PC games. The DRM policy required PC games to always be connected to the Internet in order to load. Moving forward, Ubisoft-published PC games will only require a one-time online activation during installation. The company will also eliminate limits on both the number of times a game can be activated and on the number of PCs it can be installed upon. Ubisoft’s change of heart comes after CEO Yves Guillemot recently said that DRM was a necessary evil due to high piracy rates that topped 90%.
The Free Software Foundation has created a campaign in an effort to eliminate digital rights management (DRM) and embrace DRM-free media. “While DRM has largely been defeated in downloaded music, it is a growing problem in the area of eBooks, where people have had their books restricted so they can’t freely loan, re-sell or donate them, read them without being tracked, or move them to a new device without re-purchasing all of them,” the campaign’s website reads. “They’ve even had their eBooks deleted by companies without their permission. It continues to be a major issue in the area of movies and video too.” The foundation is hoping to raise awareness surrounding what it views to be a growing problem, and it scheduled the “International Day Against DRM” protest for May 4th as a result. A list of local events can be found on the group’s website. More →
Google announced and launched its Music Beta service on Tuesday, and record execs aren’t too pleased with its decision to move ahead before reaching a deal. “People are pissed,” one record label exec told Hollywood Reporter, which explained in one article why it took so long for Google and the music industry to reach an agreement. Reportedly, Google offered some labels larger advances than others, which resulted in some firms holding out for more money. Similarly, the music industry is concerned that Music Beta users will upload music stolen from P2P sites — that the industry already wants removed from Google’s search results — to Google’s music storage locker. Lastly, the recording industry was concerned that Google’s music service could weaken the revenue stream from other sources, such as Apple’s iTunes. Ultimately, driven by competition from Amazon’s Cloud Drive, Google decided to pull the trigger and launch anyway. More →
Reuters is reporting that mobile giant Nokia will stop offering its free music downloads service — Ovi Music — to new handset purchasers. The service, which initially launched in 2008, has received a luke warm reception due to the restrictive DRM used by Nokia, more competitive music service options, and lack of carrier support. Customers who currently have a free music subscription will be able to use the service until their subscription runs out. Universal, EMI, Warner, and Sony had partnered with Nokia to bring the service to over 27 countries. More →
The digital rights management (DRM) security used by Microsoft to protect apps in its Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has been cracked, enthusiast blog WPCentral reports. Though the technology needed to do so is not yet in the hands of the general public, the DRM protecting paid applications can now easily be stripped off of apps. If details of the vulnerability used to achieve the DRM crack are made available to the public, unscrupulous programers could use the exploit to develop software that allows users to steal applications and deploy them to Windows Phone 7 devices. Microsoft has not publicly responded to the security hole, though WPCentral claims the company has been made aware of the issue. Hit the break to see Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Marketplace security being manhandled in a proof-of-concept video demonstration. More →
The ever-popular streaming movie service is coming to Android. In a post on the company’s official blog, Netflix announced that they will start to appear on “select Android devices” in early 2011. The reason why Netflix for Android won’t immediately be available on every Android handset is due to a “lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism for Android.” There seems to be a DRM issue with making Netflix’s content providers happy, and apparently on Android it’s on a device-by-device basis. We’re sure it will all get worked out, however, seeing that almost every other mobile platform and gaming system now supports Netflix.
It’s starting to look like VLC’s days in the iOS app store are numbered. Videolan developer, Rémi Denis-Courmont, has confirmed that the company has sent Apple papers citing copyright infringement. The VLC media player is currently distributed under a General Public License (GPL), and this has come into direct conflict with Apple’s DRM-based app store distribution model. The conflict of licenses were known to both parties prior to the app’s publication, and Videolan is stressing they are not at fault, since the app was ported to the app store via a third party developer — Applidium. The popular multi-format video player made its debut on the iPhone only a week ago, and its future looks bleak. We highly recommend snagging your free copy before Apple possibly shuts the book on this case. More →
Oh DRM, how we love thee. Valve, the company responsible for the
lifestyle game Modern Warfare 2, recently issued an apology to over 12,000 legitimate MW2 users who were accidentally banned from getting their first-person shooter on by the company’s DRM implementation. Valve’s president, Gabe Newell, wrote an email stating the the snafu occurred when an issue with “a signature check between the disk version of a DLL and a latent memory version” occurred. We’re just going to go ahead and take Mr. Newell’s word for it. The email also promised affected users two copies of Left 4 Dead 2, one for them and one for a friend. Anyone out there get accidentally hammer banned by Valve over the last few weeks? More →
After weeks of leaks and speculation, Canada’s reigning Conservative government outlined its plans to amend the ageing Copyright Act. According to the outline, anyone convicted of bypassing the DRM of a given media format — even if legally purchased — will be subject to a fine of up to $5,000. But if the circumvention of DRM is done for profit, then the fine is raised to $1 million. Convicted downloaders of copyrighted materials will face significantly weaker penalties with a fine of $5,000, down from the present day maximum of $20,000. Canadians will also be allowed to use copyrighted materials to create mashup videos for sites such as YouTube, and the law books will finally acknowledge that commonplace activities such as recording TV, radio and internet broadcasts are okay. The same applies for backing media for personal use or archival purposes, but so long as DRM is not tampered with. Cellphone unlocking was not mentioned, although Heritage Minister Tony Clement said that it is currently legal to unlock phones so long as that phone is not currently under contract from a carrier. In an editorial co-autored with Heritage Minister James Moore published in The National Post on Wednesday, Clement argued that “Canada’s Copyright Act is more than 80 years old and has not been significantly modified for many years” and needs a serious overhaul in order to protect the interests of Canadians and the rights of content creators. The legislation is expected to be tabled in the House of Commons on Thursday. More →
Some pretty big news out of China recently as Nokia has announced the launch of its Comes With Music service in the world’s second largest consumer market. To be known locally as Yue Sui Xiang and included for free with the purchase of select Nokia handsets (in China’s case, the X6 16GB, X6 32GB, 5230, 5330, 5800w, 6700s, E52 and E72i), the service allows for the downloading of an unlimited amount of à la carte tracks over a period of 12 to 24 months. Even better, all of the music — which includes catalogs from Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI Music, Huayi Brothers Media Group, Taihe Rye and more — is DRM-free and allows subscription holders to keep everything they’ve downloaded after their subscription runs out. Hats off to Nokia for giving a pretty censored country a little bit of freedom. Now… When is the this DRM free business coming to the democratic world? We’re pretty tired of stripping away the DRM ourselves. More →
Computer World is reporting that Apple Inc. will offer its own brand of digital rights management (DRM) software to iPad ebook publishers to protect their digital books on the iPad; this is in lieu of the DRM system setup by Adobe. The Adobe DRM schema — although not the standard — would allow users, as Nick Bogaty, senior business development manager at Adobe, put it to, “use any e-reader they want, and purchase from any point of sale that uses [Adobe's] Content Server.” The move is fairly consistent with Apple’s App Store practices — that is, controlling the process from start to finish — however, it does not leave those who want an open and interchangeable ebook reader market feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Disclaimer: We hate DRM. It could be FairPlay DRM, Adobe DRM, or Mother Theresa’s DRM for that matter. We just, flat out, don’t like it. If you buy something, you own it. More →
Nothing makes you feel like you truly own your media and content like being able to do almost whatever you want with it. We’re already used to DRM for our MP3s and the limitations it puts on device selection and sharing, but the idea that the same kind of protection would be put on our books was a head-scratcher. For books on the Kindle, it works just that way. You can’t go putting your content on any device you want, whenever you want to — until now. An Israeli hacker has managed to break the DRM for books on the Kindle so that that content can be downloaded onto any other device.
The hacker, known only as Labba, posed a challenge on a hacker forum and was quickly aided by other programmers to discover the hack for the Kindle. They were essentially able to break the DRM protection and find a way to get the eBooks converted to an open format and into PDF files. This allows the files to be read on several eReaders, not just the Kindle. Now we have to wait and see what Amazon will do to patch things up, but Labba says whenever Amazon does release a software solution, he will be able to hack it again — just like the iPhone getting jailbroken with every software update. Or, you know, you can just buy paper books.
Thanks, Friend of BGR!
UPDATE: Looks like this was just “hacked” again as an original DRM workaround has been available since a year or so back.
Things like this happen in three stages: 1) You find out it’s going to happen. 2) You curse Apple. 3) You accept the fact that Apple is king when it comes to making money and cough up the extra cash. Masked as part of a trade off with major labels to facilitate DRM-free iTunes tracks, Apple announced back in January that it would introduce a new variable pricing structure where tracks would be $0.69, $0.99 or $1.29 depending on popularity. Today, the new tiered pricing has gone live. As you can see above, it apparently doesn’t take much for some tracks to hit the $1.29 price point — track two has its popularity indicator just over half full and it’s already there. For some however, the new pricing model could be a good thing. The super cool loners among you who are into niche genres like uber-unsing-emo-screamo-core, may find your monthly iTunes bills dropping thanks to the new $0.69 tier for less popular music. Good luck though; even the most obscure bands and tracks we dug up in a few minutes of searching were listed at $0.99 despite having no bars in the popularity column. Anyone find a $0.69 track? Let us know in the comments section.