Microsoft, SanDisk planning video piracy filters for NBC [updated]

Following NBC Universal’s abrupt removal from the iTunes Store, which followed a breakdown in discussions between the television network and Apple regarding pricing and piracy, competitors Microsoft and SanDisk have been working to develop anti-piracy technology to remedy one of the network’s concerns. Both companies are selling NBC video content at prices similar to Apple’s pricing for the iTunes Store.

According to a New York Times report, NBC Universal digital distribution president J.B. Perrette claimed that Microsoft is developing a “copyright cop” to be installed in Zune devices, that will supposedly be capable of removing pirated videos rather than playing them. While the system is “still in development and its exact form has not been set,” NBC plans to create “filtering technology that allows for playback of legitimately purchased content versus non-legitimately purchased content,” and “is also working with Internet service providers like AT&T to put similar filters right into the network.” Microsoft confirmed in the report that it is exploring anti-piracy measures with NBC, but would not divulge additional details; the Times notes that the Zune’s lagging market position relative to the iPod will make it difficult for Microsoft to add consumer-unfriendly features.

Updated: Contrary to the NY Times report, Microsoft’s official Zune blog claims that the company has “no plans to add content blocking features in Zune,” and suggested that NBC was “expressing hopes.” Thanks, Justin.

  1. LOL. now, this is some serious bleepin pile of sheep poo.

    way to go Microsoft! dig your own grave even deeper. you know you want to!

    what is NBC’s idea of “pirated content” anyways? is there a difference between an AVI file you’ve torrented to one that you’ve ripped yourself? does that mean that people in future have to a, Buy the DVD to watch stuff on their TVs and then b, buy the officially licensed super duper deluxe gold version of that series off that Microsoft site?

    is NBC even SANE these days?

  2. K. wrote:

    > is NBC even SANE these days?

    It seems they are not. When they were selling shows on iTMS, they were making some money off them via this distribution medium. Now they’re giving some of them away for free and not making others available while SanDisk and Microsoft develop some vaporware. When you see a corporation foregoing revenue, that’s a good sign there are bats in its belfry.

    The other thing to note is that this “Copyright Cop” stuff, should it ever actually come into existence, probably won’t sell a lot of MP3 players. If you could buy a player with that “feature” or one without it, which one would you get?

  3. I am fairly certain that the “Copyright Cop” code will be embedded in the music and video files sold through Miscrosoft and Sandisk. When a user plays the files on their device, the cop-code will execute itself and search for other files stored on the player that do not meet DRM requirements. Offending files will be corrupted or tagged and will no longer be recognized by the device. The next time the user connects their device for synchronization, the tagged files will be deleted. By doing this, they will avoid the appearance of selling devices that are DRM crippled.

  4. To Laer:

    As a home based producer, why in the WORLD would you be using an iPod for any part of your mastering process ! ? Hell, unless you’re using an outboard DAC.. the iPod’s DAC is absolutely worthless for anything but low quality productions.

    As for composition… ?? The least you can do for your self is get an Apogee Duet.. OR perhaps a better DAP for such things. iRiver Hxx series dAP’s are back on eBay.. SPDIF IN and OUT… and a much MUCH better DAC than the iPod.

  5. I don’t think that this will be the death of the Zune because there will always be a certain number of consumers willing to accept this kind of BS.

    However, the “logic” of the move is flawed on one very basic level: it is still perfectly legal (as it should be) to record anything broadcast for private use later. Why shouldn’t a consumer be allowed to Tivo a program, then load it onto a portable device, and use it when, where, and how they see fit?

    Should these measures go through, I for one will never buy another Sandisk product and my next computer will be a Mac or Linux box.

  6. The anti-piracy protection will mark the death of the Zune.
    Why would anyone buy a Zune which has Big Brother watching your every move? Why buy a Zune when it can cause headaches – such as if you name your own movie “Jaws” or “Cars”. Why be forced to update your Zune to take into account new films and other media which it doesn’t want you to play unless you bought it from NBC or other vendor.

    This is the death of the Zune

  7. Given that all we have so far is the wishful pipe dreams of a media rep (in contrast to the statement of the company being accused of implementing said cop) I find the highlighting of the tin foil hat post from James Petzinger on the front page to be the height of irresponsibility on iLounge’s part.

  8. I suspect Microsoft ran it by their legal department who immediately had convulsions. Expecting Microsoft’s code to reliably detect good vs bad media is a major legal exposure for Microsoft. Inadvertent data loss is one thing, deliberately deleting data is an entirely different matter. They would need to be 100% sure the content was pirated, and there just isn’t a reasonable way for them to do that in a product and remain competitive.

  9. As a musician and home-based producer, should I be worried that my own music files might be deleted because I wouldn’t put this stupid DRM onto them?! My iPod is instrumental in both the composition and mastering steps of the process. If I had a Zune instead and needed to worry about interference in the process through from some crap-tastic code meant only to protect THEIR copyrights, it would mean less money for Microsoft AND NBC from me from then on. As it stands right now, I carefully watch every move they make before deciding on a purchase! Way to go NBC/M$!

  10. So, Rand, to effectively bypass those legal issues the cop code will likely be enabled on the Zune but actually exist in an NBC/Vivendi download. Obviously, users will have to sign a terms of agreement handing over to some 3rd party the ability to scan all their files and delete them as the 3rd party company sees fit. Does that about sum it up?

    Ah, good luck with that!!

  11. Code Monkey: We pick comments that we find interesting, and our selection of comments is not an endorsement of their accuracy or viewpoints. The article was updated immediately after we were informed that Microsoft, after having been contacted for comment on the subject and provided one, later took issue with the comments that had been made on the record by a senior NBC executive to the New York Times.

    “Height of irresponsibility?” Give me a break.

  12. Microsoft responded in what strikes me as a very disingenuous, yet typically corporate way after some well deserved backlash. Content providers and device manufacturers are always more interested in protecting their respective bottoms and bottom lines rather than channeling that energy into better content and hardware.

    This post attempts to dispel the “rumor,” and that right poorly:

    And I thought the highlighted comment was just fine. I think it would be the height of irresponsibility to pay this story no mind. Without uproar, this sort of thing will become reality.

  13. this looks for me just like this… Microsoft missed a huge opportunity and apple took it to the top level with the iPod/iPhone. Now microsoft can’t do anything about it, the invention ZUNE is neat but it’s just a hopeless try of microsoft to get in the area where apple hit the jackpot. .. now, somehow these big guys see, actl. think there is a opportunity to “speak up”,..or “lift their voice” .. a small beep to get heared by people that they, which is microsoft has an IDEA 😉 … called privacy filter with NBS, where NBC for Microsoft seems to be a know name for the public,.. so that would be a good step for them,..right?!? 🙂

    but they forgot one thing,… US,.. the people, we have a voice and we are actl. the ones who make them M O N E Y … so i would not be worried to much about it. it’s just a helpless scream by microsoft.


  14. I spent all yesterday trying to install that crappy zune 2.5 software for my brother. I finally got it installed and itunes has so many videos and tv shows to choose from. Zune marketplace doesn’t have much of a selection. I’m glad I have a ipod.

  15. Hi Doug,
    I simply mean that my iPod is one of the many ways I listen to a mix while I’m figuring out what to tweak (for the mastering). While composing, I’ll make a playlist with several ‘takes’ of the same song to hear while I’m away from the computer. Hearing the songs as ‘background music’ while I’m doing something else lets me hear them in a totally different way that when I’m actively listening at the computer. Ableton Live is primarily what I use for production. But thanks for the suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *