Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hard drive, hard-cheese

As music companies start to realise that DRM is a pointless load of old crap—with a number of the major labels starting to sell their music uncrippled by restrictions—it seems that hardware manufacturers are attempting to do the job for them.

Western Digital have released a network hard-drive that will not actually allow you to share certain file types.
Network Storage System for Remote Access and Sharing
1 TB, Ethernet

Anywhere, Anytime Access
Share Photos and Files
Data OnHand™

Share and access your data anywhere, anytime, even when your local computer is off.

Well, that's not entirely true is it? As The Register reports, you can only share and access data that Western Digital allows you to share and access.
A kindly Reg reader tipped us off that the remote-access HDD won't share media files over network connections. Which is, as you can see here, the entire stinking point of it.

It's a scary world full of potentially unlicensed media. We're fortunate there's a hard drive vendor willing to step forward and do some indiscriminate policing for us.

WD's list of banned file types encompasses over 35 extensions. This includes AAC, MP3, AVI, DivX, WMV, and QuickTime files. And - why not? — Windows TMP files too.

The storage device is billed as a "surprisingly simple and secure way to access and share data and photos" using your home or office network. And technically that's true — namely, the "way" in question is not letting you do it. Abstinence is simple and secure. You've got to hand it to Western Digital.

If you must have the drive, you could work around the crippled WD Anywhere Access client app. Or be satisfied sharing your impressive collection of .doc files. But this is — supposedly — a remote access hard drive.

So what's the point if WD is going to use a shotgun feature killing technique and assume there isn't a legitimate and legal reason to share an AVI file? (Hello, digital camera).

Do you, like my brother, make your own music and want to share it? Tough shit.

Have you make a film of your holiday and want to share it? Tough shit.

Want to share a podcast you've made? Tough shit.

A legitimate training video? Tough shit.

Due to my massive print files, I eat through hard drive space quite quickly and have quite an impressive array. Suffice to say, the next time I need a hard drive, Western Digital can get to fuck.


Longrider said...

As I pointed out when discussing this one, I have a legitimate need to share audio files with my clients. Western Digital just guaranteed that I will never buy any of their products.

Sure, it is probably possible to work around their protection system, but it is not buying the thing in the first place that sends the right message.

Roger Thornhill said...

And witness the newspeak branding right out of the arch paranoid control-freakery guidebook

"Data OnHand"

which means it will not be.

Apple's .Mac is probably a better way. One day I will see how it works with a little piece of my LaCie RAID.

Davide Simonetti said...

I agree that Western Digital should be boycotted over this. Presumably though some people will buy the damn thing and screw up legitimate file sharing for others. I guess two work-arounds might be to either zip up shared files before sending or to change the extension to something like yourfileAVI.fuk. But obviously we shouldn't have to do this.

Anonymous said...

How long til the custom firmware starts circulating to correct this fault in the WD drive?

Anyway, I've never much liked WD, there are other makes and they'll profit from this.

The thing that never gets through about DRM is that no one wants to buy a fucked product.

Anonymous said...

"The thing that never gets through about DRM is that no one wants to buy a fucked product."

I find it funny how they keep trying to market DRM as a feature with "benefits". I once took a marketing department to task over this and got back gobbledegook that would put a New Labour politician to shame.

Surreptitious Evil said...

Why worry? WD have demonstrated that it is trivial to shatter your market share with one bone decision.

As Roger said - use your wallets and vote Lacie ...

Devil's Kitchen said...

Actually, I mainly go for internals and I buy Quantum Barracudas as a rule.


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