Your Company is NOT Ruined, SnapStream

Supposedly My Company is Ruined… (SnapStream Media Development) | The SnapStream Media Development blog picked up my latest post on Microsoft and DRM, and I would like to clarify a few points. 


Quote: “The post talks about how Vista’s MCE (codenamed Diamond) is including enough DRM to keep the content providers happy enough to allow MCE to record/store their content.”


PVP-OPM will apply to Windows Vista as a whole, not just Media Center Edition.  The advantages will hopefully apply to third party products too!  I have said for years that Media Center isn’t for everyone (check The Green Button for references) and there are other choices, products from SnapStream being on that list.  If I remember correctly, SnapStream advertises on The Green Button too!  🙂


Quote: “…This [DRM in Vista] is a good thing. No one will deny it.”


You guys might be very surprised.  😉


Quote: “…However, there is a definite negative slant in the post towards companies like mine that make DVR software for the PC.”


I wouldn’t say I was trying to be negative towards SnapStream or any other third party developers.  I did say that PVP-OPM in Vista is needed for the PC PVR to survive.  No doubt BeyondTV/Media users are looking for more!  Unless SnapStream has some unseen technology that is going to allow Windows to magically be secure to get a secure feed into it, PVP-OPM is a plus for all ISV’s (assuming Microsoft licenses or allows third parties in on the action, I think they will).


Quote: “I doubt that anyone will argue that DRM is necessary to record protected content, but to assume that Microsoft is the only company solving this issue is just plain silly.”


Everyone will argue about that point, get ready to be able to defend your position on it.  I’m one of the few on the web that tries to make an argument about the few reasons it is necessary.


Again, if SnapStream has something in the works to allow this protected content in, please let us know something about it!  I’m very interested in how third parties feel about PVP-OPM (DRM in Vista) and what they think is needed to improve their products and the PC and a PVR in general!

11 thoughts on “Your Company is NOT Ruined, SnapStream

  1. The melodramatic and sarcastic title of my blog post was targeted at the original post on gadget fetish. They made it seem like third-party DVRs will be screwed once Vista comes out. This, of course, will definitely not be the case.

    Content providers own the content. They won’t let it be transmitted digitally without encryption. They won’t let it be stored without encryption. To me, this means that DRM and complementary technologies are requirements of the next age of DVRs. You don’t have to DRM and protect everything, just the premium content.

    In my opinion, adding PVP-OPM and PVP-UAB to Vista is good news to anyone that wants protected content on their Windows-based DVR. They are necessary evils that we will have to face in order to provide the users the experience that they desire.

  2. Emphasis on the "evil" part of "necessary evil." Does no one fears consumer backlash or does everyone expect that Joe HD-DVD/Blu-Ray Owner is going to roll over and play dead when he can’t use his content how he expects to be able to within the confines of his own home?

    Consumers haven’t exactly been pleased with the protected CDs that Sony BMG have been releasing these past few months.

    And I seem to recall a failed attempt once called DivX–and I’m not referring to the encode/decoder…

  3. If you a talking about HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, yes they will "roll over and play dead" because neither format is going to be "mainstream" until after Vista comes to the market. Then the answer is just, you need to upgrade to Windows Vista in order to play this content, a new design allows Windows Vista to play it. If they want to play it, they upgrade. If not, they don’t upgrade.

    Both formats will be considered "early-adopter" formats until, most likely, a year after each of there releases. DVD isn’t going anywhere for some time, but just as DVD has it’s advantages of VHS, HD-DVD/Blu-Ray have it over DVD.

    If you are talking about TV content, they will also "roll over and play dead", because many people are looking for the ability to bring the content in NOW (they already pay for it, it’s already out in the market). They can’t do, the content is already protected and locked from getting into the PC, Vista can bring a welcome change to that.

  4. I’ve found amongst users in my modest DIY PVR community (byopvr) that sometimes DRM is a deal breaker for some folks.

    Currently MCE 2005, on windows platform, has the most robust HDTV ATSC support, but people are scared off of by the DRM and will choose SnapStream BTV or SageTV instead.

    Although my audience may be more of the earlier adopter variety, a big part of why some of them build PVRs instead of buy a Tivo is DRM and content control concerns. *shrug* I can only hope that if this comes to fruition that consumers vote with their wallet (assuming it’s an unreasonable / unfavorable to fair use implementation)


    PS speaking of MS MCE updates, is there a unencrypted QAM 256 update in the pipe/works?

  5. I’m sure people will vote with their wallets to an extent, and that means voting ‘yes’ for a PVR on their PC that can bring in the content we can’t today. Or voting ‘no’, and getting nothing more then they have today. It’s all about what people actually want to be able to do.

    Failure to accept ‘DRM’ because it’s ‘DRM’ means they lose out on the ability to get what they actually want.

    It’s all about choice.

  6. Ok, to clarify… I’m not necessarily saying DRM in of it’s self is the boogeyman here. When I say "DRM is bad/evil" I’m referring to obtrusive DRM that gets in the way of time/place shifting content. I always like the faux-example of the "mom" trying to "backup" her copy of Shrek DVD to VHS because of what happens to DVD media around little kids and running into the macrovision problem/wall.

    Anything that diminishes my capability to do that I’m not in favor of.

    My main problem with DRM is that it is not a static agreement. The rules of what can and can’t be done with the content can and do change outside of the consumer’s control. The Fear (or FUD if you prefer 😉 ) is that a TV program I was "allowed" to keep stored indefinitely previously, will suddenly be "updated" to only be stored for 2 weeks… or 1 week or not at all… itunes is a common example of this. What I could do with a .99 song I "purchased" or "leased" or what have you last year, i’m not able to do today. Where was I consulted on this? Do I get a few pennies back for the fewer amount of playlist burns I can make?

    I’m personally dying for a cablecard implementation (even on a STB tivo). I’m just not convinced that swallowing the blue pill of DRM is what makes it possible. It does little to deter the piracy that so confounds the content providers, and just inconveniences everyone else.

    It’s not really core to my thinking/argument, but it’s an interesting read (is html allowed?)–>

    I totally see your point that MS is in a position to get cablecard technology on the PC by assuaging the content providers and cable co’s, but I don’t trust MS to build a system conducive to 3rd party competing applications ( especially if MCE is bundled with vista ) or to do a DRM implementation that has the consumers best interest at heart. And that’s the heart of the DRM question: TRUST. The content providers dont’ trust the consumers of the content. The consumers should’t trust the content providers to create a fair DRM system.

    If I wanted to be stuck with locked down content I’d just use the cable co’s crappy DVR in the first place!

    best regards,


    PS your capthcya is driving me nuts with it’s invalid human proof. I understand why it’s totally necessary but either I can’t tell an l from a 1 or an O from an 0 or it’s just flakey (or i’m a nincompoop.. or a bot?)

  7. Comments like this make me understand that people don’t get what this type of ‘DRM’ does, what it brings them. It doesn’t always ‘take away’ rights, it adds them in this case! 😉

    >> When I say "DRM is bad/evil" I’m referring to obtrusive >> DRM that gets in the way of time/place shifting content.

    Well, without this ‘DRM’ being added, you can’t (at all) time shift anything except what you can today. It’s always important to remember that Microsoft developing PVP-OPM and other technologies actually means you will now have the ability to get the content into the PC. You can’t do this today, at all!

    >> Anything that diminishes my capability to do that I’m not in >> favor of.

    The absence of ‘DRM’ in Windows has diminished everyone’s capability to bring in this content.

    >> I’m just not convinced that swallowing the blue pill of DRM is >> what makes it possible. It does little to deter the piracy that >> so confounds the content providers, and just inconveniences >> everyone else.

    Really doesn’t matter in terms of things like CableCARD. The bar was set by CableLabs, if anyone (Microsoft, TiVo, etc) want a to have a CableCARD solution, they have to meet the bar. I would expect next-gen TiVo’s with CableCARD support to be much more locked down then current ones. If you can get into the TiVo can bring the content to the PC, CableLabs will kick TiVo’s right to have the CableCARD functional.

    And yes, I know the issues with CAPTCHA

  8. "Comments like this make me understand that people don’t get what this type of ‘DRM’ does, what it brings them. It doesn’t always ‘take away’ rights, it adds them in this case"

    If you can’t copy the content, say to a PVP (or worse it’ll only copy to a MS certified PVP) I haven’t gained anything over the cable companies black box DVR. Just getting the digital signal into a PC is useless IF it’s flagged as "no burn" or "no copy" or "expires in 3 days".

    "Well, without this ‘DRM’ being added, you can’t (at all) time shift anything except what you can today."


    I’m not much of a debater, but this seems like false dichotomy.

    Without DRM (or MS specific DRM) no new content will be PC PVR-able. This (DRM or bust) might be the reality of the situation (unfortunately) but to say that it HAS to be that way or the content providers would take their ball and go home seems ridiculous to me. Although I woudln’t be surprised, in the least! 🙂

    I guess it’s mostly semantics.

    The difference between saying: "having DRM locked in and built into the OS as a platform is the "best" way to get content providers to play in the PC in the living room digital content sandbox"

    is different than,

    "You can’t have digital content without DRM" (not that you said that, I’m trying to make the distinction)

    To say there wouldn’t be digital DRM’less content without MS intervention is silly. You don’t HAVE to have DRM (or DRM up the wazoo) to have digital content, it might SEEM that way in this current (legal/corporate) climate, but I argue it is not an absolute. But perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part 😉

    How about this: I look foward to the PVP-OPM / MS MCE cablecard implementation but with a lot of trepidation as to what it’ll look like and what pandoras box it’ll open as for fair use of the content.


    ps no problem on the captcha, i just thought I was losing my marbles. Comment spam is a real problem, that’s why you should download my mortgage gambling ED cream. j/k

  9. No information has been released on what you will be able to do with the recorded content, so I can’t say anything on that. However, it still doesn’t "diminishes your capability" to do anything, since you can’t get a single bit of it into the PC as it stands today.

    Your correct that you don’t need DRM to have digital media. We (the consumers) don’t get to pick this point however. The content owners want their content to be protected. Not only do they want it to be protected, they want to build systems that they think will be uncracked (not going to happen)

    It’s going to be an interesting road ahead, but I don’t think the whole "Microsoft is taking away my rights" (general statement) type of talk really stands up. We don’t have the right today to get this content into the PC, Microsoft is looking to change it. 🙂 We want this content in our PCs, but we don’t want to give in adding what we see as un-needed protection. It however, is needed to get what we want.

  10. To chime back in, and to reiterate a point made elsewhere, if future MCEs merely permit the timeshifting of HDTV content then, in agreement with Erik, why bother with MCE at all? Microsoft will clearly strive to do better. As Chris indicates, we’ll just have to see what they can pull off. As he has rightly reminded me on several occasions, Microsoft’s hands are to some extent bound by the impositions of the content providers’ DRM policy.

    And, so, the question that I’m left with is just how draconian will the content providers be with their future DRM’d content? Will I be able to share music/movies within an authenticated home network ? Is it going to require exclusively "Microsoft Ceritified Widgets (TM)" as CMGS-A content currently does within XP MCE 2005 or will I be able to play my future HDTV MCE content on portable players of my choice such as a Sony PSP (yes, I realize, it would have to be transcoded)?

    To speculate, whatever the content providers ultimately decide, it will likely be palatable to the average consumer but unsatisfactory to the power user/early adopter.

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