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back to article Western Digital drive is DRM-crippled for your safety

Western Digital's 1TB My Book World Edition external hard drive has been crippled by DRM for your safety. 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 …

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Easy workaround

Zip the file . Works fine on mine lol .

Im more concerned with the nobbled ethernet . 4.6mbps max transfer takes the Michael . Really helpful limitation on a drive billed as 10/100/1000 . Several months down the line and still no fix for it . WD have admitted the transfer speed sucks and are "looking into it" . Try looking into it with your eyes open ......

Theres no need to use the mionet software on the cd as you can access to it via java from the mionet site .

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Ben

Class Action?

I wonder how long before someone starts a class action against WD? The advertising clearly states that it can hold MP3, video, HD video etc. but makes no mention that you can't share those file types.

Guess I won't be buying any WD products in the future. Still, there is plenty of competition in this market already.

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Bob
Unhappy

It's the Video!!

I don't know anyone with 1Tb of doc files and photos. The whole point of a 1Tb drive is to store and process video. Like you're a videographer, you have a lot of video footage you took with your Hi-Def DV camera and you're using iMovie, Final Cut and iDVD on a Mac to produce movies and video segments to be distributed by DVD and online by Quicktime.

It's really too bad that the aspiring videographer who purchases this drive will find after getting it home that it's a nice paper weight. That videographer will learn to avoid WD in the future. Hopefully the store he/she got it from will have a good return policy.

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Plain stupid

I really am lost for words, chocolate teapots come to mind

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Easy Workaround, Pt. 2

Don't use it.

...just a suggestion. :)

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Stupid "Feature"

Users could just rename the file extension but the main point is they shouldn't have to. At the end of the day the reason most people have large hard drives is to store data files of the blocked types.

Hell I have something like 500 gig of video captured from online games with fraps. Even when I encode these down to avi all perfectly legal and legit this drive still wouldnt allow me to share them.

Just one more reason to to just buy a small NAS box and fill it with a couple of 1TB drives, then setup a vpn or something to get your data remotely.

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Tom
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Better workaround

Don't buy one! Buy something else.

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Paris Hilton

Hoist by their own petard?

From the first link:

Use This Product When You Want To

* Listen to your music while on vacation.

From the second link:

Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access:

AAC

MP3

OGG

WMA

A lawsuit, surely, for false advertising?

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Erm... but they advertise it...

...as being able to hold up to 250,000 songs (in MP3). Surely its misrepresentation? or false advertising?. What the heck is WD playing at? Some one needs to start beating them with the clue stick.

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Just DON'T ever buy it

They can keep crap like this for themselves!

If nobody is foolish enough to pay cash for this drive they might learn the lesson.

...or maybe this drive is secretly subsidized by the RIAA and MPAA!

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They arent lying you can share them

What you all missed is the term "Different user"

This is how it works ....

I can put anything on the drive as its my drive I own it . I can access everything regardless of file type from anywhere in the world .

I can let other people use it as well BUT they will only see the non protected files so all your mp3s avis etc will be invisible , The folders will be empty .

My brother in law also has a one of these drives and we know each others username and password for mionet . Not a fantastic way of doing it but again like the Zip method I highlighted earlier it works .

Afaik this protection only comes into play over the net and doesnt hamper LAN sharing .

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Any other ways of getting around it?

Are there any other suggestions for getting around it- e.g. can you use Samba or something?

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Brand Loyalty

Most people including me, choose their hard drive just by scanning prices and cost per GB. I'll just skip any Western Digital drives and go for the one below or above.

This could really be damaging, as most people know all drives have equal failure rates aside from personal experience and failures due to identical manufacturing bases. A huge black mark against WD will lose them a lot of money very quickly with normal SATA/IDE sales being linked to products that have DRM. Makes no difference to me to not buy WD and go for anyone else.

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Will they learn ?

What is the point of a device for sharing files but wont share them. Assuming everyone is boot legging files is just downright malicious. How many people have their own video cameras? Did they read the Windows XP (I know, I know) installation adverts, of how GOOD Windows XP is for sharing your video files with your friends ?

I guess (hope?) that customers will realise that buying anything with DRM attached is a bad thing and that they will just pass them by on the shelves. When MS et al are unable to sell their products because of their groundless accusations, that anyone buying their product has criminal intent and must be restrained, I expect we shall see the end of it.

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Stop

Works perfectly with Unlimited Internet Access*

* Home servers and the serving of content is prohibited

* Idle PPoE logins are automatically terminated

* Excessive bandwidth is prohibited

* No static IP addresses

* No bandwidth sharing with other computers

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Alternate solutions

If you can live with the limitations of FAT32, get your own hard drive and Google for "LAN Server USB 2.0 3.5" HDD Aluminum LAN Enclosure" - under US$50, no TURDS (Technology Users' Rights Denial Systems), and highly reliable (I've been using one for well over 18 months; once in a while Windows on the clients does something outrageous, so I've had to reboot it 3 times).

Good-bye, WD. You're off our corporate "acceptable vendors" list.

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Re: Will they learn?

"I guess (hope?) that customers will realise that buying anything with DRM attached is a bad thing and that they will just pass them by on the shelves"

Unless you're prepared to wield a length of Clue-By-Four with extreme prejudice, don't count on it - never underestimate the collective stupidity of people in large groups.

As for me, I've always bought WD drives because I've generally found them to be more reliable than their competitors - reliability tops price/Gb every time. However, if they insist on pulling fuckwitted stunts like this, it looks like I'll have to go back to Seacrates.

Vote with your wallet - I certainly intend to.

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Anonymous Coward

i see a problem with this (well, many in fact....,

but I will start with this one:

regardless of backdoor attacks..... the intended use has a major flaw:- a major reason to have an NHS database is to provide doctors with access to patient records so things like allergies can be detected sooner etc - so that means doctors will be able to pull up a record when a patient comes in the door - sounds reasonable... until the doctor in question happens to be in terrorist - which today (3 July 2007) 12 or so doctors have apparently proven to be. So if they can access medical records, they could easily steal identiies to use to cover their tracks e.g. pull up deceased records. And If the national ID database comes to fruitition and is linked in to the NHS...

Any tool the governement can create to help them, can be hacked and hence, help the enemy instead.

Trouble is abrewing.

That's why i am going to try out munich for a while.

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Oh nuts.

I've just ordered a 2TB one of these today. I've heard the mionet software was rubbish but could be avoided, and £360 for 2TB is cheaper even than bare drives, but if the data transfer speed is rubbish it's going to take forever to back up my files.

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@ Easy Workaround

Buy from any other manufacturer - there are plenty out there. Show WD what you think of their DRM'd device.

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Bronze badge

Removes product from cart, places back on shelf, and slowly backs away

Oh. My. Gawd. I was ~so~ close to purchasing one these exact products. I've picked it up and fondled the box at my local Costco during each of the past few visits. I delayed a bit only because I really want 2TB (just because). Phew. Close call. Thank you for alerting me to this nonsense.

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They are pretty fragile anyway

We had one we were testing as an alternative to SDLT tape.

The very first time I took it to the server room and plugged it in it died.

It is currently stuck somewhere in the WD RMA process, which I might add is a slow and tedious process. It has taken them 9 days from receiving it to get it to their tech department.

<sigh>

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I know what I won't be buying for Christmas

Anything made by Western Digital (Rights Mismanagement). And remember kiddies, a boycott is for life, not just for Christmas. :)

Not as if we don't have a choice of other vendors, is it?

Of course the clueless will buy it anyway, and with any luck subsequently return it for not working properly, or inundate the hell desk with calls and ALL CAPS emails.

Well done WD, it's only taken 30 years or so but someone has finally created a product even more useless than the infamous Sinclair Black Watch.

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Boffin

Alternative

Of course the proper way of doing it is to buy an NSLU2 and a couple of USB HDDs (or, ideally, USB cases and seperate HDDs). Install debian and you can do whatever you want... think internet remote control, UPnP, standalone MP3 player (hook up USB sound card and some form of input)... anything.

As for everyone saying that this device is marketed purely for video... just think about putting backups on there (windows bkf files or something sensible)

Regardless, WD are now even further on my sh1t list

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J
Pirate

Of course...

They're trying to cover their asses before they are sued for facilitating copyright infringement, methinks...

But of course this is just stupid. Lots of free (as in beer AND speech) mp3 with lectures and speeches, as well as videos, that might be stored in this drive, etc... But no, you're automatically a criminal if you have any of these files shared.

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Linux

What kind of kickback did they get?

...for including this censorware in the drive? Note to WD: Stick to what you're supposed to be doing: STORAGE. Leave the policing to someone else. I wouldn't touch your crippled product with a 10-foot USB cable. Slow too... Way to lose customers.

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Bronze badge

lost it.

Looks like Western Digital has completely lost the plot then.

...because of course those file types never have the copyright owned by the person who actually purchased the hard drive. I mean, it's not like anyone creates their own sound or video files. No, of course not. Everyone gets all such files from elsewhere, and never EVER actually has permission to use these files...

Fuck me, talk about a totally asinine, yet completely predictable product.

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Another illegal move

By a once good company. Simple solution?

Just don;t buy any WD product of any kind. What they did is clearly illegal. they have to rights of any kind to dictate what i can do with my Hard Drive. Not hard to find who have pressure them to commit such a crime in the open? Well the most dangerous criminal cartel in the world: THe MPAA/RIAA.

Lawsuit? Yes! sueing them for selling a illegally crippled product.

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Go

Oh seriously...

Then don't use their remote access software. Set yourself up a vpn or ssh tunnel and just get the files that way. Sheesh.

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Oh dear oh dear oh dear

WTF?!?!?

The more I see of it the more I believe that the Western world is moving away from "presumed innocent, guilt must be proven" to "presumed guilt, innocence must be proven". This is just plain absurdity. Adios WD, no mo' cash from me!

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Black Helicopters

hahah

Give a n00b a blog and look what happens. massive FUD explosion just in time for greed fest. Imagine if someone found out seagate had paid him.

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Coat

IT is useful c.1995

"Use This Product When You Want To

* Listen to your music while on vacation."

"Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access:

AAC

MP3

OGG

WMA"

Finally, a mass storage device for the MIDI purist.

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Stop

I have solution for WD

Quick rewrite add an interface to change banned files list pretend it was there all along and we forgot to tell you about it. Since it really isn't part of hardware just stupid firmware anyway shouldn't be more than a momentary blip on their otherwise commonplace reputation. Their drives are still good but this is obviously a mistake of the first water.

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Unhappy

what next

i can see a time coming soon when a device detects who is in a room anyone other than the person who bought or hired the movie or music and it wont play. Stupid sorry if i just gave the MAFIAA any ideas.

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Who is WD?

I'm sorry. I there still anyone out there using WD drives?

I used them exclusively until WD started making noisy toasters instead of hard drives. I had four out of five fail within a year and stopped buying them. My supplier told me they were just getting too hot and he was dropping them as well.

My collection of 320Gb to 500Gb Seagates and Maxtors is humming along nicely thank you.

Instead of being smart about DRM, WD should try to make drives which work.

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Pirate

whats the point

The only reason you would buy a 1tb drive is if you have media files.... so um... what the hell is the point of this??!!

anyway who are they to say what you put on your own hard drive which you have paid with your own $$!

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Stop

Safe harbour?

As far as I can see, WD *have* to do this. They may not be a common carrier (look it up) and may not be protected by safe harbour. I know we're talking about US law, but WD is a US company. IANAL, of course, but this is basic arse-covering law that every sysadmin should know.

A huge FUDpile over one little move to protect themselves whilst still providing a useful service to those who need, say, to access technical manuals on the move from a pitifully small hard disk equipped "corporate" laptop. Read the damned articles on it: It's not stopping YOU from accessing anything, whether that be over MioNet or your own LAN. It's stopping you from turning WD's MioNet (they have just Borged it. Read the "about us" page http://www.mionet.com/about/overview.jsp) into the next big copyright infringement site which, as far as I'm concerned, is a totally acceptable, even necessary, thing for them to do. In fact, they have been very generous (or foolish) not to include .iso and cue/bin in those restrictions. I know I would have.

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Pirate

On the bright side

It doesn't seem, from their list, to block .zip, .rar or .torrent files.

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Stop

That's made my next purchase easier

When I buy my new hard disk I won't need to look at Western Digital drives.

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Ash
Linux

How jolly enjoyable it would be...

... to format this drive, install some other media streaming app onto it, and using it anyway?

I guess you could buy a caddy and a 1TB hard drive separately, though.

Guess i'll buy Seagate, Maxtor, or Hitachi from now on. BOO SUCKS TO YOU WITH KNOBS ON!

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Easy in UK: invalid product description

I think you're 100% entitled to return the product for a FULL refund as the description does not make a mention of this and the product thus falls foul of the formal requirements for a product description (I think it's in the Trade Description Act 1968, but I could be wrong here).

In principle, the way WD advertises the product makes it appear there are no restrictions on usage and that's also a "reasonable expectation". Unless the restrictions are very clearly identified where the product is advertised (like on a website with an online retailer) the description of the product can be deemed misleading and are thus in breach.

The nicest way to make this clear to WD is if a number of these devices are sold and then returned, because the return cannot be at your cost as you were mislead, and the usual restocking fee should also not apply. If in doubt, consult your nearest Trading Standars office, which also has as nice side effect that they will act if they get multiple, identical claims.

Having said that, why bother? Just buy another make, it's not like there's a shortage of competition. In addition you may want to find an alternative that does NOT stand on its end like a book (a common 'designer' idea) - if this thing falls over when the disk is live (i.e. spinning) a headcrash is VERY likely, and that means bye bye to all the data on the disk. Bam - gone. It's a common 'feature' of most external drives as well.

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Silver badge

That's why we need free software

That's why we need free software, even and especially on embedded devices. It wouldn't be a problem if you could just reflash your drive's ROM and get some decent software onto it.

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Joke

Another easy workaround

Go to shop -> Return drive and get money back -> Buy another brand -> Problem solved.

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total non-story

the owner can access any file from anywhere - it just can't be used to make your record and dvd collection available to the world.

I do wish the sadly ageing vulture would think before publishing rubbish like this.

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Unhappy

Lost customer

I've always chosen WD hard drives over other brands.

WD... You just lost a long standing customer.

@ the admins.. can you pack these comments and send them to WD ?

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Better to buy the drive, use it for a couple of days and then return it...

Costs WD more and nothing will bring the issue to the attention of their management faster than a big, sudden loss because of angry customers returning used product - backed up by legal hefty standards.

Personally, I'm disappointed. I own several WD "My Book" drives - although I never bought one with an Ethernet connection (just Firewire and USB 2). However, this episode isn't likely to persuade me to buy an Ethernet model in the future - especially as my router has a USB 2 socket that can just take an external drive and share it outside and inside my network. (T-Com Speedport W 900V).

I'd like to see WD stop pandering to Hollywood and sell hardware that can be used for the purpose it was purchased for. I personally run a Solaris box for sharing stuff - I don't trust Windows's opinion of what I should be sharing (or not) with the rest of my subnet - that's for me to decide. The very reason I stopped buying Sony Discman CD players so many years ago was because they didn't support MP3. Just about everyone else did, so Sony disappeared off my shopping lists forever. WD should take note - the same will happen to them if they aren't careful.

Oliver.

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Flame

@Peter

I was going to get a couple of these, not because I'm technically unsavvy but just because they looked like a simple quick solution. Having read this article I am NOT going to buy them. I have emailed WD and told them that they have lost sales due to their decision to deny me access to my own damned files.

I hope that anyone else who was thinking of getting any WD digital product AT ALL will now purchase a similar product from a rival and then email WD to tell them that their arrogance and stupidity has lost them sales.

As they specifically state : "Listen to your music while on vacation." as one of its selling features and then block mp3 files from being shared I would have through that Trading Standards would like to pay them a visit

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Better Alternatives...

Pick up a Buffalo Linkstation live. I liked the one in Work so much I bought my own... Faster than a Greyhound on speed, no restrictions (unless you enable them) and the latest updated for its build in linux distro makes it web accessible as well.

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Black Helicopters

Sneaky commercial plan.....?

Maxtor ATA/SATA drives are usually what I end up purchasing for my own use, and Seagate SCSI drives for work. I have never owned a WD drive and I don't think I've ever seen one in a commercial server, so I can't comment on their quality.

I though they were a pretty respected company, but this just seems like a great way to alienate customers UNLESS they go aiming for corporate customers. They don't want their employees wasting company time and resources downloading Kylie on her mechanical bull (apparently, the most common file on corporate file servers in the UK in 2007!!). A lot of companies buy software just to keep their servers clean of illegal MP3s. Add a few bits to the code to deny certain file types like MP3 and they could be on to a winner.

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Not a Question of Workarounds

From what I read earlier today the trivial workaround is not to use their software.

However how can one retain any trust in a company that pulls off a stupid stunt like this one? WD's business is supposed to be selling disc drives. The RIAA's is suing grandmothers who do not own computers.

I doubt that, even in the US, selling disc drives could be considered to be facilitating "piracy", at least not in any sane courtroom. (OOPS! Are there any left?)

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