Microsoft may build copyright cop into every Zune

“If you like to download the latest episodes of ‘Heroes’ or other NBC shows from BitTorrent, maybe you shouldn’t buy a Microsoft Zune to watch them on,” Saul Hansell reports for The New York Times.

“A future update of the software for Microsoft’s portable media player may well include a feature that will block unauthorized copies of copyrighted videos from being played on it,” Hansell reports.

“Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it would start selling video programming for the Zune, mainly TV shows. These include programs from NBC Universal, which has pulled its shows off Apple’s iTunes Store,” Hansell reports.

“Late Tuesday afternoon I reached J. B. Perrette, the president of digital distribution for NBC Universal, to ask why NBC found Microsoft’s video store more appealing than Apple’s,” Hansell reports. “He explained that NBC, like most studios, would like the broadest distribution possible for its programming. But it has two disputes with Apple.”

“First, Apple insists that all TV shows have an identical wholesale price so that it can sell all of them at $1.99. NBC wants to sell its programs for whatever price it chooses,” Hansell reports. “Second, Apple refused to cooperate with NBC on building filters into its iPod player to remove pirated movies and videos.”

“Microsoft, by contrast, will accept NBC’s pricing scheme and will work with it to try to develop a copyright ‘cop’ to be installed on its devices,” Hansell reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jack” for the heads up.]

Microsoft is desperate. Apple is not. And this is yet another reason not to buy a Zune, as if another one was needed. NBC can keep dicking around until the cows come home for all Apple cares. iPod and iTunes sales continue unabated with or without also-ran NBC TV shows. P2P just keeps on serving up NBC shows at very nice prices, iPod- and Mac- compatible, thanks. NBC will come crawling back to Apple in due time.

[UPDATE: 8:59pm EDT: According to CNET, “Microsoft denies putting ‘copyright cop’ in Zune.“]


  1. haha yeah lets block copyrighted movies from the zune.. thats a smart idea from microsoft. It’s bad enough for M$ that no one uses the stupid zune… now people will really not want to get it if they plan on watchin their downloaded shows. M$ keep it up and lets see how long it takes till you dump the zune.

  2. Does Hansell understate the problem? The way I read Perrette’s quote, they wanted software on the iPod that would actively REMOVE content that appeared to be pirated, not just block it from playing. They’ll have to pry my half-full iPod Classic from my cold, dead hands before I buy a product that is built to do the network’s bidding before mine.

    MW: never. Damn right…

  3. Microsoft doesn’t have any stones left. Jerry Yang kicked the few MS had down the drain. MS coughed at UMG and is paying then $1.00 or $2.00 for every Zune sold. They are willing to kick their customers to the curb just to get NBC selling a few crappy NBC shows to Zune Customers? And they are going to add software to block unauthorized content and then NBC will want more like the software to report the users so they and sue them.
    This is MS way after all standing up for the big corporate interest while kicking the little customers to the curb and then stepping on their heads.
    Future MDN Headline
    “Zune Cops reports customers as Pirates for attempting to put legal non-Zune Market place content onto Zune Player. Cost customer $35,000 in legal fees.”

  4. OK, just read the whole article and they’re not direct quotes from Perrette in MDN’s excerpts, and the rest of the article talks about blocking playback rather than deleting files. Still, knowing how these bozos operate (rootkit, anyone?) I don’t trust them at all.

  5. More aggressive copyright protection…Brilliant!!! This is the piece of the puzzle M$ has been missing to send Zune sales through the roof! And here all of us thought it had something to do with usability or the interface.

  6. All of this turns into a bigger joke every day. As if Zune sales aren’t pitiful enough. And how many tv shows does NBC really expect to sell this way? In particular at $4.99 or whatever it is they want to charge for some of them. And hardly anybody wanted a Zune in the first place, who exactly do they think would buy it if they do THIS? Both NBC and Microsoft are putting yet ANOTHER bullet in their respective feet. Barney Fife wasn’t this bad. I don’t know if it’s more pathetic or more funny, but it’s definitely both. Of course, I’m more than happy to sit back and watch it happen….

  7. And just how does this software know that the content you put on your Zune is copyrighted? I’m sure a very easy workaround will be out before it even becomes a problem.

    Of course, that assumes that one of the 5 Zune owners is a programmer . . . .

  8. What this “copyright cop” system is more likely to do is break some legitimate uses of the Zune and piss off more customers.

    I copy all of my DVDs to my hard drive and put the DVDs away for safe keeping. I play them back whenever I feel and I do not give the copies to anyone. I would not be inclined to purchase any product that would stop me from playing my movies.

  9. No great loss. Except for “The Office,” NBC’s programming is “Must Pee TV” (props to Garry Shandling for that one).

    But give them credit for something: they found a way to make the Zune even less attractive to consumers. Impressive, most impressive.

  10. Speaking of shite…

    > I’ve never actually seen a zune…. not that I want to

    I saw one this morning. And then I flushed.

    MW “british”… huh? What’s that got to do with anything?

  11. Ignoramuses in the TV & Film (and Music for that matter) industries STILL don’t get that adding all kinds of hurdles and pricing trickery to your content ONLY serves ONE purpose and that is to help another generation of users discover Bit Torrent. These clowns SHOULD be slashing prices!! Make all this an impulse buy! I feel that at $2 the TV shows are STILL overpriced! Make them $1 (or less) so that we will buy shows we aren’t that familiar with on a whim! Who knows maybe we’ll like it and buy the whole season for $10-$15. But at $2 a pop and $30± for a season (with sleezeballs like NBC clamoring for even more $) it just becomes compelling to investigate the torrents…

  12. I saw a Zune once…it was clunky and lopsided… completely uninspiring. Everything I expected from the way people make fun of it on here (and everywhere for that matter)

    Made me want to scrub myself after being two feet from it.

    The music being played was like the device too…….

  13. @ macoverdose_dot_com: I’ve seen exactly one Zune “in the wild” – that is, being used by a person and not stuck to some display in Best Buy.

    And I live in the center of the most populous city in the country and ride the subways at rush hour with thousands of people. Seen about a zillion iPods and iPhones in the last year, just for comparison…

    MDN word: “response” as in the consumer response to the Microsoft Zune has been somewhat, uhh, underwhelming.

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