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Microsoft and NBC working on copyright filters for Zune?

Nilay Patel
05.07.08
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Microsoft's recently refurbished Zune store features a lot of NBC content like Heroes and The Office, but it looks like it may have come at what could be a steep price: NBC recently told the New York Times that it's working with Microsoft to develop "copyright filters" for the Zune that would "remove pirated movies and videos." (We'll pause for a moment so you can gape appropriately.) Granted, it's not clear whether NBC wants to actually delete non-DRM'd media or simply block playback, but apparently the network thinks it's an issue on par with variable pricing, and it's not in the iTunes Store because Apple refuses to cooperate. Microsoft, on the other hand, is apparently cheerfully working on such a solution, dubbed the "copyright cop," and says that it's sympathetic to NBC's concerns because it also suffers from piracy issues. Sigh. Of course, none of this is new territory for NBC or Microsoft: the two companies are working in similar content filtering systems to be implemented at the ISP level with AT&T, and NBC and SanDisk are working on a filter for Sansa players as well. Still, if Microsoft is serious about competing with the iPod, signing up for consumer-hostile DRM systems that actually block playback and potentially delete files just isn't the way to do it -- let's hope this one dies on the vine.

Update:
Although a spokesperson told the NYT that Microsoft was working with NBC on anti-piracy efforts, the company is now saying that it has no plans to implement a "copyright cop" in the Zune, and the Zune Insider blog confirms. Great, now just cancel the ISP-level filtering system and we'll be all set.

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