As if I needed another reason not to by a PS3

Business week discusses the DRM schemes on the HD-DVD and Bly-Ray disc formats, and how much further Sony’s Blu-Ray format goes towards crippling any content you buy on the discs. This is exactly why I’m boycotting Sony products:

Blu-ray, however, goes beyond the AACS, incorporating two other protection mechanisms: The ROM Mark is a cryptographic element overlaid on a “legitimate” disk. If the player doesn’t detect the mark, then it won’t play the disc. This will supposedly deal with video-camera-in-the-theatre copies.

STRANGLEHOLD ON CONTENT. Even more extreme is a scheme called BD+ that deals with the problem of what to do when someone cracks the encryption scheme. The players can automatically download new crypto if the old one is broken. But there’s an ominous feature buried in this so-called protection mechanism: If a particular brand of player is cryptographically “compromised,” the studio can remotely disable all of the affected players. In other words, if some hacker halfway across the globe cracks Sony’s software, Sony can shut down my DVD player across the Net.

The Blu-ray’s DRM scheme is simply anti-consumer. The standard reflects what the studios really want, which is no copying of their material at all, for any reason. They’re clearly willing to take active and unpleasant measures to enforce this. Last year’s Sony/BMG rootkit fiasco comes to mind. The possibility that they would disable thousands of DVD players, not because they’re hacked but just because they might be vulnerable, would have been unthinkable a few years ago; it’s clearly an option today.

The Blu-Ray drive on the PS3, far from being a selling point, is just one more reason to avoid the console like the plague.

When they’re ready to start treating me like a customer rather than a criminal, and stop acting like a criminal themselves, I’ll be willing to do business with them. Unfortunately (for them), it looks like that’ll be a long time coming.

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