Windows Vista DRM

Peter Gutmann in New Zealand has looked at the problems that Windows Vista’s digital rights management (DRM) can cause. Not only Windows users will be affected, it will also cause problems for other operating systems such as Linux and OS X and can potentially threaten your life:

For example the field of medical imaging either bans outright or strongly frowns on any form of lossy compression because artifacts introduced by the compression process can cause mis-diagnoses and in extreme cases even become life-threatening. Consider a medical IT worker who’s using a medical imaging PC while listening to audio/video played back by the computer (the CD-ROM drives installed in workplace PCs inevitably spend most of their working lives playing music or MP3 CDs to drown out workplace noise). If there’s any premium content present in there, the image will be subtly altered by Vista’s content protection, potentially creating exactly the life-threatening situation that the medical industry has worked so hard to avoid. The scary thing is that there’s no easy way around this – Vista will silently modify displayed content under certain (almost impossible-to-predict in advance) situations discernable only to Vista’s built-in content-protection subsystem.

Actually, the Vista DRM is probably going to cause Microsoft quite a lot of pain in the long term, when you realise how many features are crippled by it, and given that as Peter says, one important point that must be kept in mind when reading the Vista Content Protection specification is that in order to work, Vista’s content protection must be able to violate the laws of physics. As his “Executive Executive Summary” says:

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

(Via vowe dot net, to get an explanation about what DRM is, you can click here)