Apple offering downgrades (thanks to DRM)

Fred von Lohmann of the EFF:

Once again, thanks to DRM, a new product ends up less useful than the one it replaces. This time, it’s the new family of Apple Macbook laptop computers that gets the downgrade.

When it launched the new Macbooks, Apple announced that they would sport a new digital video output connector, known as Mini DisplayPort. What Apple failed to mention, however, is that those connectors allow movies studios to force the computer to authenticate any external monitor before allowing playback of programs purchased or rented from the iTunes Store (Microsoft’s Windows Vista does something similar). In other words, the HDTV monitor or projector that worked for you yesterday, won’t work with your new computer tomorrow if Hollywood has embedded a flag in the iTunes content you paid for.

This is a remarkably short-sighted move for both Apple and Hollywood. This punishes existing iTunes customers: several have reported that iTunes purchases that played on external monitors on their old Macbooks no longer will play on their new Macbooks. In other words, thanks to the Macbook “upgrade,” Apple just “downgraded” everyone’s previous investment in iTunes content (if we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a dozen times — when you buy DRMd content, the vendor can snatch your investment from you at any time).

Full post here.

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