After Hours

DRM enforced on storage?

I just read an article tipping off unsuspecting consumers to Western Digital's network storage problems.

Western Digital's ‘My Book World Edition' is specifically designed to make peoples life easier. The sales page tells people: "This storage system and all the files on it are always accessible when you need them, even when your local computer is turned off," and "Listen to your music while on vacation". It's impossible to miss the box advertising the My Book as having enough storage for 250,000 MP3's or 400 hours of DVD quality video. Now that all sounds pretty standard so what's the problem?

Tucked away deep inside the Western Digital support site is a list of 38 types of media file that can't be accessed via the WD Anywhere Access feature. The list is extensive and includes all popular file types such as AAC, MP3, MOV, WMV and WMA. So if you buy one of these how exactly are you going to "listen to your music while on vacation"? Western Digital claim this restriction is ‘Due to unverifiable media license authentication'. This really does raise the question of whose job it is to police the enforcement of digital rights. Should we be stopped from copying MP3 files to USB keys or memory sticks? Will software companies start blocking the transfer of media files over HTTP and FTP just in case they aren't licensed?

I personally find this quite a controversial topic and see it as yet another move towards the mindset of "guilty until proven innocent"; I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.

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