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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sources: Zune's DRM not viral after all

From ArsTechnica:
Zune's digital rights management (DRM) scheme will not add its own DRM to unprotected files, Ars Technica has learned. Trusted sources tell us that Zune's wireless sharing feature, which requires Zune's DRM to function, will only monitor the presence of shared songs for the purposes of controlling playback. Files themselves will not be modified, either on the player or on a local PC.

We also learned that users cannot share files that they have received by sharing. That is, if Eric shares his favorite song, Cotton Eye Joe, to Nate, Nate's stuck with it. He cannot share it to anyone else, and once his 3 plays/3 days are over, his options are to expunge the song or purchase a new copy (with DRM) from the Zune Marketplace. The Zune player itself will simply monitor the age of the song (on the device) and how many times it has been played, and prevent playback when the limits have been reached.

Many questions remain about Zune's sharing features. How did Microsoft arrive at this 3x3 sharing limitation, and were the music labels involved? Are there additional limits on the service? Is this sharing business built-in to the Zune Marketplace's pricing? For now, however, we'll have to be content knowing that Zune's DRM is not viral, which alleviates many questions but does not eliminate the unfortunate fact that this otherwise interesting feature is crippled.


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