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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Microsoft Patents DRM'd Torrents 193

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-patent-torrenting-torrents dept.
Anonymous Crobar writes "Microsoft has received a patent for a 'digital rights management scheme for an on-demand distributed streaming system,' or using a P2P network to distribute commercial media content. The patent, #7,639,805, covers a method of individually encrypting each packet with a separate key and allowing users to decrypt differing levels of quality depending on the license that has been purchased."
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Microsoft Patents DRM'd Torrents

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  • as old as bt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts (660957) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:17PM (#30696692) Homepage
    similar schemes have been around the community for (unfortunately) ages.
    • Indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak (748999) on Friday January 08, 2010 @03:12PM (#30698364) Homepage

      Indeed, using DRM-protected torrent to distribute paid-for content was attempted by several players almost immediately by several provider when bittorrent appeared. And lots of less-legal sharing cites may encrypt the torrents so only members of the community could access its content.

      In addition, having different levels of quality in different packets of the same stream (the more packet you have, the better the quality), has been proposed in lots of old systems such as the OGG/Vorbis compression (so that a web radio emits only 1 single stream and quality decreases as packet are dropped, instead of having to emit several stream of varying quality). In fact, progressive JPEGs work in a similar way (first chunks contain low-res blurry image, later chunks add the missing details), except that they are not a media stream but static pictures.

      Meanwhile the patent was applied for only in 2005. The only thing that wasn't widely used before, is using separate key on each different "quality" packets. But it looks almost straight forward given the other technologies.

      • by radtea (464814)

        In addition, having different levels of quality in different packets of the same stream (the more packet you have, the better the quality), has been proposed in lots of old systems

        I'm not sure what you're commenting on here. The patent claim is built around "truncatable packets", not "different levels of quality in different packets."

        Your analysis doesn't seem to have anything to do with what MS has actually been granted a patent on (which admittedly looks like a stupid idea described badly, as is typical

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:17PM (#30696700)

    It's a great way of monetizing uncontrollable distribution channels. Easily allow anyone and their goldfish to distribute large content freely, and effectively charge at the codec level. Certainly solves a good half of the people-steal-everything problem. The patent's still stupid, but the idea's great -- I'd support a two-year patent certainly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Certainly solves a good half of the people-steal-everything problem.

      What the fuck are you talking about? I'll just jump on the usual pirated torrent, thanks.

    • Did they remember to patent hacking the encryption within 30s of release? Otherwise the hackers will get away with it!

    • by Kjella (173770) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:25PM (#30696806) Homepage

      Hahhahahahahahaha, you're serious aren't you? The malware/scammers have been distributing DRM'd WMV files for ages, hoping to make suckers get rooted by their malware or steal their credit cards. Nobody distributes them except retards and others too lazy to check their downloads, this changes nothing at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by networkBoy (774728)

        no to mention that should count as prior art...

        • by tixxit (1107127) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:26PM (#30697720)
          The patent is NOT about distributing encrypted files, that is just one requirement of the process. RTFP.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitrate_peeling [wikipedia.org] but with DRM.

      DRM and P2P won't mix because it's a huge popularity contest. There is selection pressure against really bad, really big, or password protected/DRMed content.

      • This technology wouldn't be used like a typical P2P network of people openly sharing files, since the files with by DRM encrypted, unless it is the Zune model of loaning out a file, and losing the rights to it, until that loaner is returned to you.

        BT-style downloads make a great deal of sense for a company like Microsoft or Apple who is pushing tons of downloads.

    • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:29PM (#30696858) Homepage

      Im sure everyone here knows your stance by now...but for those that dont, allow me to translate what you just said...

      It's a great way of monetizing uncontrollable(by me) distribution channels. Easily allow anyone and their goldfish to distribute large content freely(at no charge to me), and effectively charge(I collect money from the freely given resources of others without compensation) at the codec level. Certainly solves a good half of the people-steal-everything problem.(except for the fact that you are 'stealing' others resources without compensating them)

      Im sorry, but your business model is dying, thats why you have so much resistance to the current changes in the world. Allowed to come to an equilibrium, youd be out of work. You are completely free to follow whatever path you want, but when you start advocating for everyone to only do business a certain way because thats the only way you personally can survive, we part ways.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Allowed to come to an equilibrium, youd be out of work.

        At which point the content stops. You do realize this, yes?

        • The shitty content stops, yes. And that day cant come soon enough. Just because you create something, doesnt mean you will automatically make money form it.

          If its what people WANT to buy, they will. Its already been done, and its only going to continue.

          see: Radiohead [wikipedia.org]

          • by BobMcD (601576)

            No, all content stops.

            Radiohead survives on the voluntary status expressly because they are different. The industry as a whole, however, cannot exist this way, and will have to rely on other dollars in one way or another.

            Look at the Open Source content, as an example. Without the likes of IBM, RedHat, etc making actual sales dollars off of someone, a lot of the development we get to enjoy would cease.

            Music, on the other hand, is of little practical value. Businesses aren't going to fund it out of charity

            • I use Radiohead of an example of the concept. Not as an example of what all music should be like. Personally, Im not much of a fan of them.

              I see the music industry continuing on, and in fact being better than its current form. But music in of itself is of little value, as you say. However, the people willing to pay for a live performance IS of value. But I fail to see why a cunsumer of music cant directly pay the band. Can you give an example of why that option doesnt work for all genres?

              And I know your r

    • This is like getting a patent on selling yesterday's newspaper when you can already get them for free at the same place that the patent alleges it will sell them.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      I think the patent duration works in our favor for these types of things. It'll be another 20 years before we actually see somebody try to stuff this down our throats.

      It's what the EFF should do--patent DRM schemes, and due the pants off anybody who tries to use them.

  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:24PM (#30696766)
    ...how to put a torrent proxy service out there to read in a torrent stream and republish those DRM'ed packets as a non-DRM'ed version of the same data, or just torrent the key itself. Once the genie is out of the bottle its always a challenge to talk that genie back into that little tiny bottle.
  • What's to stop the guy who buys the first license from decrypting it and uploading it anyway? Seriously, this just makes their job easier since they'll have the content right with them!

    Then again, if ISPs and the RIAA start leaving DRMed torrents alone and only go after the unprotected ones... ...yikes...this IS bad.

    • Re:ambivalence (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jpmorgan (517966) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:26PM (#30696824) Homepage

      That's a problem you have with any DRM. However, a system like the one described would be a fairly interesting way to deliver live content to subscribers without undue server load, especially if the underlying P2P system was network topology aware.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        No, what I'm getting at is with DRMed torrents, the MAFIAA might actually back off on filesharing.

        DRMed torrents may potentially receive the full blessing of both the MAFIAA and consequently ISPs who no longer have to fear the dogs of war, DRMed torrents will start getting a foothold and suddenly, regular torrents will finally have competition.

      • Yes, not only the customers should pay with money, they should pay with their bandwidth too!

        • by jpmorgan (517966)

          Why not? Bandwidth caps are driven by saturation of ISPs' outbound links. If widespread topology-aware P2P arises, there may be a move to cut caps on internal network traffic, as it would be a way for ISPs to differentiate without really costing them anything. Of course, this doesn't apply if you're a poor soul living in an area with only one real broadband ISP.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      actually, on the flip side this will make encrypting every p2p download standard procedure - thus people who use encryption on their normal downloads will be doing SOP as well - it'll make it that much harder for the MAFIAA to identify people as "filesharers" when everyone's doing it.

      I still the patent is retarded and there should be prior art, though. At this point I'd like to see our patent office refuse all patents at this point until they start focusing on quality again.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        thus people who use encryption on their normal downloads will be doing SOP as well - it'll make it that much harder for the MAFIAA to identify people as "filesharers" when everyone's doing it.

        Actually, I'd think the opposite. In order to flag "filesharers" one would only need to check the encryption keys against a list of those you know are good. If the torrent users are constantly changing keys, they would have to be freely available, or everyone would get locked out of the content.

        Sounds like a quick way to kill them. Especially when coupled with a requirement that all torrents of copyrighted works be encrypted.

  • maximum utility. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:24PM (#30696792) Homepage

    1. patent something.
    2. patent it "...on a computer".
    3. patent it "...on a network".
    4. patent it "...with DRM".
    5. patent it "???".
    6. Profit!!1!

  • by stagg (1606187) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:25PM (#30696808)
    If this goes mainstream we won't get in trouble for downloading "stolen" products, we'll get in trouble for stealing/cracking encryption keys. That should be even harder to police.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mewsenews (251487)

      Reminds me of "stealing" satellite signals. The government has cracked down on that pretty viciously.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How can you "steal" something that is broadcast over an entire hemisphere? You and I are subjected to satellite signals of all kinds without our desire or consent. How is merely making use of that radiation we are bombarded with considered 'theft?'

        No, I'm not a tinfoil hat-wearing paraniod. I am just trying to look at it pragmatically.

        Now, I WOULD consider an UP-link to a satellite without authorisation to be theft of services (bandwidth, processing time, potentially introducing security holes), but to mere

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          Presumably your government was already compensated for the use of these signals. Perhaps you should take it up with them?

    • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:30PM (#30696878)

      except that "steeling" a product results in a civil fine. Cracking DRM is a federal felony that can get you decades of hardcore prison time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        except that "stealing" a product results in a civil fine.

        Depends. This hasn't been true in U.S. for over 10 years [wikipedia.org], for example.

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          Thats why I enclosed it in quotes. Copyright infringment isn't theft, but most media producers like to perpetuate that lie. The misspelling was entirely unintentional.

          • by BobMcD (601576)

            Thats why I enclosed it in quotes. Copyright infringment isn't theft, but most media producers like to perpetuate that lie. The misspelling was entirely unintentional.

            Conversations that only allow strict definitions of words are cumbersome. Copyright infringement isn't physical theft, true, but neither is any kind of data theft, or identity theft for that matter. This doesn't preclude laws existing to deal with it, despite your nit over the precise word used to communicate it.

        • by xigxag (167441)

          AFAIK, the criminal law only applies to being busted downloading >= $1,000 "worth" of stuff in a six month period.

          • AFAIK, the criminal law only applies to being busted downloading >= $1,000 "worth" of stuff in a six month period.

            Correct [copyright.gov]:

            "Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed ...

            (B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; ..."

            But, given that e.g. Photoshop CS4 alone costs $699, it is ridiculously easy to do just that. Even with music alone, if one assumes

      • except that "steeling" a product results in a civil fine. Cracking DRM is a federal felony that can get you decades of hardcore prison time.

        But luckily, cracking only needs to be done once. After that, the redistribution is lesser crime.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        I wasn't aware that adding carbon to a product to produce a stronger alloy was a civil violation now. Good grief we really have taken this whole thing too far!

  • Please can I have a patent on putting different amounts of sugar in different people's coffee?
    • Did you bother reading the claim?

      1. A process for managing digital rights to a scalable media file comprising of truncatable media packets, wherein a different encryption/decryption key is used to encrypt each truncatable media packet having a base layer and an enhancement layer without requiring additional storage space to store the encryption/decryption key, comprising the process actions of:

      using a first computing device for encryption;

      receiving at the first computing device a scalable media file compris

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        For a computer scientist that specializes in this sort of thing: probably.

        That's the standard here (or should be). This isn't about what can wow
        some layman schmuck off the street or on Slashdot or some groupie for the
        relevant company.

        Microsoft's new patent should not give Microsoft the right to sue the next
        guy that can come up with an independent implementation without ever having
        seen this particular patent.

    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      If you'll find a new non obvious way of doing this, then yes.
  • Already being done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:33PM (#30696908) Homepage
    See BBC iPlayer/Kontiki

    Not only do they want to turn your own PC against you with their DRM, they also want to use your upstream bandwidth. All the disadvantages of torrents and all the disadvantages of legally bought "treats the buyer as a criminal" DRMified files rolled into one
  • by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:35PM (#30696938) Journal
    So if I only want to pay for the 700MB quality KEY, I still have to download the whole 4GB torrent?

    Where can I download this awesome torrents? Oh I think I found the link:

    http://thepiratemicrosoft.com/ [thepiratemicrosoft.com]


    ..
  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:36PM (#30696952)

    If you only get the low quality anyways, why does it make any sense for you to be forced to pull the bits in the high quality version? This is a reduction in efficiency and convenience. Due to the long transfer times required for high-quality content, and very short transfer times required for smaller low-quality content.

    There's a simpler solution to this: use keyed/passworded private torrents.

    Make different quality versions different files.

    Then the customers who purchase low-quality content don't get to download the same file as the ones who purchase high-quality content, and it means, less bandwidth and disk space is used.

    If they change their mind and wish to buy a high quality version, they can simply download the high-quality version once given access. Upon successful download replace the lq file.

    This technology is superfluous.. it shouldn't be patentable, because it's not an actual improvement.

    Inventions have to be improvements to be patentable... it's called useful discovery

    As required by the constitution: To promote the progress of science and useful arts...

    Their technology does not offer an improvement versus pre-existing unpatented technologies in common use and simpler obvious ways of accomplishing the same thing, they do not have a useful invention.

    • This technology is superfluous.. it shouldn't be patentable, because it's not an actual improvement.

      It very much depends on your perspective. From TFA:

      "The system has the advantages of 1) shifting distribution costs to users ..."

    • The claim in the patent makes it clear there's a "base layer" and an "enhancement layer". The high quality version would need both, the low quality would only download the bits they need, and only have decryption rights to those.

      If you read between the lines, what they're talking about is like a regular DRMed P2P distribution channel (BBC iplayer), but targetable to portable devices (i.e. the Zune) also.

      It's clever, and useful if you're Microsoft, or maybe Apple, and have control over an ecosystem of
    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      I think you may have missed the part where Microsoft isn't the one distributing this around, it's P2P! Those losers don't care how much bandwidth they're wasting! And hell, if they get pissed at downloading a file four times as large as is justified by the quality they've purchased, they can spend more money to unlock the higher quality content! IT'S BRILLIANT

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:46PM (#30697092)
    FINALLY Microsoft reaches out to embrace, extend, and extinguish DRM.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:23PM (#30697672)
    I always have to laugh when people complain about patents on technologies they hate. Hello? They PATENTED it. That means nobody else is allowed to do it. And Microsoft of course, will fail at it themselves. Thus the effect of the patent is to PREVENT these sorts of DRM mechanisms from proliferating. Use your brains people.
  • ...depending on the license that has been purchased.

    Does this mean I can implement the same DRM without the license restriction and it's not covered by the patent?

    • The way to find out is to read the claim(s) in the patent instead of going by the abstract (or, worse yet, someone else's interpretation of the abstract). If you do the same thing the entire claim says, then you're infringing.

      (There are other ways to infringe, such as contributory infringement, which don't require doing what the entire claim says. For example, if you sell a device whose sole purpose is to help someone else infringe a claim, then you're an infringer also. Most of the time, this involves m

  • Why should I participate in DRM P2P, especially if I have to buy a license? Microsoft should be paying me.

  • So, basically MS wants ME to contribute to distribute THEIR content I already paid for and then actually download MORE then I can actually use?

    A: Hidden charges, shipping charges laws. A product should have a clear price. But say I download such a product on a paid connection. Then I pay not just for the license but also for the download AND upload. And if my license is not for the full product, I download stuff I don't need. So, how much does a $7 movie cost? Really?

    B: What does this change, DRM exists a

  • I have no particular love for Microsoft but the image is silly and dated.

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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