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Appeared on: Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Consumer rights on the block?

"...New technology to stop "piracy" could limit consumers' use of content beyond what the law allows, say experts.Recently unveiled antipiracy measures aimed at eliminating even casual copying of software have some experts questioning whether companies have gone too far in controlling the use of their copyrighted material. "It means that I can't use the software in any way I want to, regardless if it is legally permitted or not," said Jennifer Granick, director of Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society.

Microsoft revealed last week that it will use so-called Product Activation technology in its next consumer version of Windows, code-named Whistler, to limit each application to one computer. The technology requires each user to register the software over the Internet or by phone.The development mimics what is happening in other industries.

A technology known as Content Protection for Recordable Media is being pushed by a coalition of major hardware makers, including Intel, IBM, Matsushita Electric and Toshiba. Another technology will allow members of the Secure Digital Music Initiative to add officially sanctioned copy protection to a variety of digital audio formats later this year. All the technologies will shut out non-authorized users, which may be defined as a second machine (even if owned by the authorized user) or making an extra copy. In Microsoft's case, the Product Activation technology--which will also be used to restrict the next-generation Office 10--will also require registration..."



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