What's Wrong with Janus and friends (02 Apr 2004)

Janus is Microsoft's new DRM (fuckware) system. The details are, frankly, unimportant - just only need to know this much:

Janus would add a hacker-resistant clock to portable music players for files encoded in Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media Audio format. That in turn would help let subscription services such as Napster put rented tracks on portable devices--something that's not currently allowed. Fans of portable players could then pay as little as $10 a month for ongoing access to hundreds of thousands of songs, instead of buying song downloads one at a time for about a dollar a piece.

This is wrong. This is bad. This is evil. This is why:


This requires is trusted clock and this is a form of client-side security. That doesn't work, this has been known for many years. Unfortunately, these companies will and have used the legal system to try and make it work.

Of course, content providers can only give music to trusted hardware - hardware that they trust to expire music. This means that the number of companies that can manufacture such hardware is very limited. It also means that since you have to go online to "renew" your music that they can disable any hardware at any time by not renewing.

If you read the license agreement this will be one of their legal rights.

No hardware manufacturer is going piss these people off on pain of a whole lot of angry customers or the loss of a manufacturing license. So they can invent any rights for themselves that they wish and it's protected by law (DMCA/EUCA).

What rights? Well, at the moment they have invented the right to stop you fast-forwarding the legal warning/trailers on some DVDs (with compliant players). They lost control of the DVD player market so this isn't enforced. You can bet they're not going to make that mistake again.

Public Domain

Remember that after a certain number of years the government granted monopoly on a given work expires? Remember that last time you put on a Shakespeare play that you didn't have to pay his family/estate anything?

Fine and dandy because when the copyright on these works expires you won't be able to play them anymore.

Their control of this is enforced by hardware and never expires.


Go down to your local library. You can probably lookup editions of the local paper going back decades. This is our history.

So when your TV news is subscription. And your paper is the digital edition. And your downloaded magazines are rented. Where's your history?

This is wrong. This is bad. This is evil.