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Intel Viiv Technology - What the heck is it?

By: James Bannan | Editorials in HT & Movies | Posted: Aug 16, 2006 4:00 am

Digital Rights Management (DRM)


And that's as good a link-up as any to talk about the Viiv bugbear - DRM.


As already mentioned, all Intel Viiv machines will feature a DRM chip - an onboard feature to enable identification of digitally-signed media from partner providers. This is backed up by DRM software embedded into Windows XP MCE.


The idea is essentially that in this new world of media content delivered straight to your lounge room, content providers have the option of protecting their product using DRM, so that you can't use it across multiple platforms - whether that is streaming, encoding or copying.


Needless to say, this has caused quite a ruckus in the online community, who claim that the principle of "fair use" will be wide open to violation. Fair use, in this context, is the ability to purchase something and then do with it pretty much what you like, short of making it available to other people, thus circumventing a sales transaction and breaking copyright.


For example, you're allowed to buy a CD and then rip it to MP3 to put on your iPod, or stream it from the media server to the stereo. But you can't take those MP3s and give them to someone else.


Critics claim that DRM-protected content could prevent you from doing anything under the fair use umbrella, due its reliance on the DRM hardware/software package. You won't be able to share media across devices which don't conform to the Viiv/DRM standard.


Interestingly, the push for DRM doesn't seem to be coming from Intel themselves. They've been quoted recently stating that they're taking a "see no evil, hear no evil" approach to media ownership. They're not interested in enforcing digital rights across the Viiv platform, now or in the future. The DRM feature is for content providers to make use of.


While it's encouraging that Intel isn't actively pushing limitation of usage via DRM, it's naïve to imagine that providers won't make full use of it. Intel may not be explicitly promoting media lockdown, but they've provided the means. And providers ALWAYS have the motive.

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