Xbox One and Evil DRM

Submitted by david.reagan on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 18:10

This article describes the DRM that Microsoft is forcing onto the new Xbox One. And it's brought into focus why all DRM is evil. Not just annoying, but evil. I've been trying to articulate this to myself for years, so, I have to thank Microsoft for clarifying it for me....

DRM is meant to condition people into believing that they own something, when they really don't. Or, another way to put it, DRM is meant to let publishers steal content you purchased from you so that they can dictate how their content is consumed. That let's them make money by licensing the tools you use to consume the content you purchase.

Here's part of how the new Xbox One works. It requires that you connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours. If you don't, it stops you from playing any games. The supposed point of this requirement is so that it can check to make sure you still own the games you own. It's their method of letting you not have to switch discs all the time. Since if the game doesn't require a disc in the drive, you could just install the game on as many consoles as you wanted. 

The analog equivalent would be you giving the keys to your home to Mattel so they could do a daily inspection of your game cupboard and make sure you don't have any used games from a garage sale.

And it's not just the Xbox One. Digital publishers have been doing this with DRM for years. Every time you buy a book on your Kindle, you're consenting to Amazon removing access to your book from you, if you ever do something they don't like. When you buy a movie from iTunes, you're consenting to Apple dictating how you watch your movies. You have to jump through hoops, and often buy more hardware and software, if you want to watch somewhere other than your computer. Oh, and you can't watch it unless your system supports iTunes (no Linux). And, like Kindle books, if Apple decides they don't like you, you can say bye to all your movies.

I've read news articles about Amazon shutting down peoples accounts. Amazon removed 1984 from thousands of Kindle devices. I have ebooks backed up that I can't read because Adobe stopped authenticating that kind of DRM. My brother bought movies from Google Video before Google bought YouTube. Google shut down that service and stopped letting anyone watch the videos they had purchased. (Yes, they gave a gift certificates back, but can you imagine Walmart walking into your home to remove DVD's they stopped selling?)

I could go on and on with examples like that. But