Subject: Re: 'Athens' built on strategy for new PC golden age
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 08 May 2003 14:07:53 -0700

Seth Gordon <sethg@ropine.com> writes:

> (I don't think Palladium is much to worry about.  If Microsoft ever does
> sell Palladium-equipped PCs, they *must* be able to run legacy Microsoft
> software, or consumers will refuse to buy it.  If you can use sofware on
> a legacy Microsoft OS to play an MP3 or MPEG file, you will still be
> able to do that on a Palladium-equipped PC.  So the industry's existing
> piracy problem -- illicit copies being circulated by Kazaa and what-not
> -- will not be affected by Palladium.  I suspect that some people at
> Microsoft are perfectly aware of that, but are quite happy to talk up
> copy protection to help close deals with "content providers" who don't
> know any better.  In short, Palladium is not about Microsoft helping
> Hollywood fleece consumers; it's about Microsoft fleecing Hollywood.)

There's nothing special about the MP3 format.  Apple isn't using it
for their new iTunes store, for example.  If a true DRM system is
designed properly and comes into existence, it will be easy enough to
require it for a new format, and to then only release new songs in
that format.  This won't address ``piracy'' of existing songs, but I
imagine that new songs are the main worry going forward in any case.
That will mean the end of fair use rights for those new songs, at
least in their original form--it will obviously still be possible to
put a microphone next to the speaker.

I'm personally more concerned about applying DRM to file formats.  If
MS Word generates files which can only be read on Palladium enabled
computers, it will become quite a bit more difficult to run a
Windows-free business.  You'll have to continually ask your vendors
and customers to send you information in an open format, which will be
a pain for all concerned.  I expect that most people would simply give
in and help Microsoft maintain its monopoly.

And once you have to support Windows systems, Microsoft can leverage
that into the server room as well, via requirements on e-mail, DNS,
etc., while charging subscription fees for the OS.  I don't think they
can force their way in this way, but they can certainly raise the
barriers for non-Windows systems.

Ian