Why WGA and DRM will fail

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 26, 2007
Updated • Jul 30, 2013

We had two reports last week that provided us with arguments why DRM and WGA will fail in the long run. The first story was about Google Video, a video distribution service that used DRM for videos that you could purchase on it. Google decided to close it down due to the acquisition of YouTube, and users who had purchased videos on the site while it was open were left standing in the rain because they were not able to play those videos anymore on their system.

Great news for customers who wasted precious time selecting and buying videos only to find out that their purchased videos will stop working soon. It is even more important that it was not a small company who had to shutdown their service but a billion dollar company.

This in turn means that it could happen to anyone who purchases products - media normally such as music or videos - that have some sort of DRM integrated in the data.

We already see a shift away from DRM towards watermarked media files which is definitely a step in the right direction. Better of course does not mean perfect but it is heading towards a good direction.

The other occurrence that involved some sort of DRM was when Microsofts WGA servers went down flagging all genuine Windows Vista installations as invalid if a WGA check was performed on those systems.

So, updating your system had the result that your formerly validated Windows Vista was flagged as non genuine which meant that updates could not be installed anymore on the system that required WGA to pass.

Microsoft was able to fix the issue after two days and users are again able to validate their system to download updates for it. Some users claim that Windows Update is not working anymore after re-validating their system which can only be attributed to this process.

The bottom line is this: It is not safe to say that you will be allowed to keep data that you purchased. It can happen that you will lose that data without being able to interfere at all. Would you buy a car, a CD or DVD if someone told you that it could happen that you would not be able to use them in the future if someone decided to stop supporting the product?

I know that it is quite comfortable to download music and videos from the Internet but I personally think that it is not worth it at all. You will lose what you bought in the long run, that is my prediction.

Even if you purchase a product that uses DRM, WGA (replace with other acronyms that will surely replace these in the future)


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  1. vance said on August 26, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    I think its already a failure…

  2. Thinker said on August 26, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    It’s sick. When I buy CD, it’s mine, and I don’t need to call any company if I want to play it. Same should be with mp3s and videos. And free market will put pressure on companies, because they will never win with pirates in such way.

    WGA is also stupid. What is it for? It make problems for customers(!!!) not for pirates, because they don’t use WGA at all.

    I still use Windows XP not Vista because of Microsofts marketing techniques.
    BTW Martin, could you make a post if there is ANY good reason to switch to Windows Vista? I tried to find one, but I failed.

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