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At least Microsoft gets a public relations consolation prize as it won’t be seen as the company that forces TPM down the throats of PC users, or at least not just yet. But if you’re breathing a sigh of relief then it may be a touch premature. You see, Digital Rights Management continues to spread its tentacles through movie, TV and audio content.

Let’s ignore Blu Ray and High Definition DVD for now as they are aren’t here yet. Let’s also gloss over the ridiculous state of the music download market where Apple is being berated by music publishers for attempting to offer its customers a reasonable price for music. In a moment of charity we won’t dwell on the startling news from Yahoo that it is raising its subscription price from US$6.99 per month to US$11.99 with the kicker that you lose all of the music you have paid for if/when you cancel your subscription.

Instead let’s look at TV. The TV companies are desperate to sell their content to subscribers in their home market, followed by subscribers overseas, and all the while they pack out the wretched programmes with adverts to turn 40 minutes of content into a one hour ‘show’. To add insult to injury Sky then adds pop-up adverts that trail other TV shows, so you can be in the final stages of a thrilling Moto GP race when some thoughtless, rude, selfish twat at Sky covers the on screen lap timer with an advert for a football match. If it’s a really bad day they’ll cut to adverts two laps from the end, just as Rossi forces Gibernau to run wide into the final chicane… but we miss that because they’re trying to sell us a mobile phone. It’s not enough that I’m watching motorcycles that look like mobile billboards racing at a track that is lined with advertising hoardings at the Grand Prix of Wherever, sponsored by Whatever and paying a subscription for the privilege too. To add insult to these many injuries they break up the flow of the action and as a result my entertainment level is reduced. Small wonder then that many of us are sick of this attitude and download TV shows from the Internet and small wonder that the TV companies are fighting back with confrontation, instead of paying attention to what their customers want.

There have been stories of HBO seeding false torrents to prevent its Rome series being distributed over the internet, which is annoying. However, this picture should really cause some alarm.

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It’s a photo of a TV screen when the Tivo system in the US suffered from a glitch recently and displayed a message that wasn’t meant to be seen by the public. The recording is of ‘King of the Hill’ and there is a Restrictions section which reads
‘Due to the policy set by the copyright holder, this recording:
Can only be kept up to 7 DAYS after it starts recording. Cannot be transferred to VCR, DVD, or any other media device. To learn more visit www.tivo.com/copyprotection where we get the low-down on the dreaded Macrovision Copy Protection system and see that some programmes have restricted rights while others can’t be recorded by Tivo at all.

Windows Vista may not do much to advance Digital Rights Management but once the TPM swings into action it’s a safe bet that every last scrap of digital content will be locked down tighter than a drum. The only question is when.

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