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Networking Data Storage Media Your Rights Online

Western Digital Service Restricts Use of Network Drives 315

sehlat writes "Via BoingBoing comes the news that Western Digital's My Book(TM) World Edition(TM) II, sold with promises of internet-accessible drive space, is now restricting the types of files the drive will serve up. 'Western Digital is disabling sharing of any avi, divx, mp3, mpeg, and many other files on its network connected devices; due to unverifiable media license authentication. Just wondering -- who needs a 1 Terabyte network-connected hard drive that is prohibited from serving most media files? Perhaps somebody with 220 million pages of .txt files they need to share?'" Update: 12/07 03:28 GMT by Z : To clarify, it actually seems as though this is a bad summary. The MioNET service that WD packages with the networked drives is responsible for the rights of users via the network. There are a few (obvious) ways to get around that.
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Western Digital Service Restricts Use of Network Drives

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  • "The Ironside" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 )

    I hereby dub these crippled drives The (Western Digital) Ironside []

    Make it part of the vernacular, no amount of advertising $ can beat that.

  • by Endloser ( 1170279 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:24PM (#21604575)
    file types restrict you.
  • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChrisMP1 ( 1130781 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:25PM (#21604591)
    If you can't have media files on it, it might as well be 512 MiB.
    • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#21604775) Homepage Journal

      Seriously. There's no way in hell I would buy this thing. The last thing in the world I need is my hard drive deciding what files are and aren't okay to store. Are they on drugs, or what?

      Here is a complete list [] of file types it cripples the functionality for.

      The funniest part is the "What it holds" section at the bottom:

      • Up to 571,000 digital photos
      • Up to 500,000 songs (MP3)
      • Up to 50,000 songs (uncompressed CD quality)
      • Up to 100 hours of Digital Video (DV)
      • Up to 800 hours of DVD quality video
      • Up to 200 hours of HD video
      • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:07PM (#21605217)

        Seriously. There's no way in hell I would buy this thing. The last thing in the world I need is my hard drive deciding what files are and aren't okay to store.
        You don't have to use their networking service with the device. Indeed, that service isn't even available for Mac users. It has a web interface for setting it up independent of their service. There are also hacks out there to turn it into a Linux server. It has its own ARM processor. A co-worker is planning to move his Subversion server to one. It also has a USB port for hooking up additional storage.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by me at werk ( 836328 )
          The NFSU2? I had read about it as a linux server.

          I happen to use an Apple Airport Extreme myself, because I can hook any usb hard disk/storage device to it (even though a hub) and share it over the network. It has the ability to have unrestricted access, guest access for the 'public' portion, accounts with passwords and their own private shares (sorry, no quotas, but I think you can setup partitions directly on a computer and it'll work fine). Works with Mac and Windows easily, and probably with Linux si
        • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:03PM (#21607243) Homepage Journal

          But without the other features, the thing seems pretty much like an array of hard drives to me, ho-hum. One of the things that would set it apart is the built-in extra functionality. If I just wanted hard drives, I'd go out and just buy hard drives and probably save myself some cash in the process. If I want the built-in extra functionality... Well, I'd still go out and just buy hard drives, because I don't want it deliberately crippling and denying me the legitimate use of those capabilities because of some imagined illegal behavior that I haven't and wouldn't engage in.

          It would be a little like buying a GPS unit with built-in maps. The catch is, though, that because someone might rob a bank on Main Street, no streets beginning with the letter M will be shown on the maps.

          No thank you.

      • by Torvaun ( 1040898 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:11PM (#21605279)
        Hey, I didn't see Ogg Vorbis on the list. I demand Linux equality!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cicatrix1 ( 123440 )
          That's because they misspelled it OOG. Or is that some other filetype I've just never heard of?
  • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:25PM (#21604593)
    Seems simple enough. I'm downloading "The_Golden_Compass.pdf" or some such rubbish should take care of it.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:25PM (#21604599)
    All of the WD My Books that i own are flakey in one way or another. I personally like Seagate far better as a company.
    • I meant to say drives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This is true. I have a client who uses a number of external MyBooks - and their clients send them MyBooks too (they convert film and video to digital and store them on the customers drives). These things are flaky in terms of not initially being seen by Windows when you plug them in. You have to do it a certain way to get them to work initially, then they're OK - until they break. The key to using an external is - never move them. Plop them down and leave them there. They aren't ruggedized enough to be cons
  • by moogied ( 1175879 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:26PM (#21604615)
    Western Digital understands the primary use of the drive to be media sharing. As such, they cripple that option in order to maximize drive life time and make sure its REAL primary use is back ups. I for one thank our Access-Restring Overlords..


  • Actually... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suman28 ( 558822 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [82namus]> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:27PM (#21604619)
    from the drm-means-don't-read-disk dept.
    should read
    from the drm-means-don't-read-media dept.

    I don't understand why all these corporations feel like they are suddenly in the business of policing for the RIAA/MPAA
    • by drxenos ( 573895 )
      I think you hit the nail on the head! And it's not just the corporations. Has anyone seen the new purposed copyright law that is getting bipartisan support in congress, that is being pushed by the RIAA/MPAA lobbyist?
    • I don't understand why all these corporations feel like they are suddenly in the business of policing for the RIAA/MPAA
      Most corporations don't feel like it is in their interest to have "forward facing" moral or ethical backbone. By acquiescing to the **AA, they avoid having to take any kind of stand that might result in liability. They know that it is much more likely that the **AA will sue them, thus costing them money, than say the EFF or some random customer.
  • government host your files for free +)
  • by hawkeye_82 ( 845771 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:27PM (#21604627) Journal

    who needs a 1 Terabyte network-connected hard drive that is prohibited from serving most media files? Perhaps somebody with 220 million pages of .txt files they need to share?
    That's not the question we need to be asking.

    The question we need to be asking is - "How can I replace the firmware on that thing and make it my bitch?"
  • How are they determining whether a file is one of these formats? I guess the obvious answer is file extension (easy to get around), and the nonobvious one is actually examining the file (also not difficult to get around with a short script upon uploading and downloading). I'm really not sure how they would actually stop you from uploading any file.
    • by Xzzy ( 111297 )
      You could just gzip everything.

      Until they decide compressed files are a sign of piracy, I suppose.
  • More like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#21604645)
    Two hundred million files labelled like this:

    Latest-Movie[axxo].txt (filesize 700MB)

    Seriously, I don't know why they even try to bother any more. Regardless of your political position on piracy, it's a hole that they can't plug, no matter how many DRM methods they devise or U.S. senators they bribe.
    • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:36PM (#21604809)
      I can't wait to hear about all the noobs out there complaining about their "crashed" computers because they tried to open a 700MB file in NotePad... : p
  • personal firmware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gmthor ( 1150907 )
    Just thinking if it is possible to edit the firmware so that the restriction is gone.
  • We don't need no steenkin' customers!
  • I believe (Score:5, Informative)

    by sdsucks ( 1161899 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#21604709)
    Sounds more to me like they just can't be shared via "WD Anywhere". Not that they can't be stored on the drive. I may misunderstand though.

    *Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the most common audio and video file types cannot be shared with different users using WD Anywhere Access. A list of the non shareable file types can be found here.
  • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:32PM (#21604721) Homepage Journal
    Or just never install MioNET in the first place. Either way, here's how. []
  • 1) Someone might figure out how to get Linux to run on this thing (if it isn't already running Linux) or
    2) Those who know will avoid this thing and get something else.
  • Seen on the WDC page touting the uses:

    Listen to the music on your My Book World Edition drive while you're on vacation.

    Now how in hell is one supposed to do that when virtually all music type files are locked out? Stream them as a .WAV file?

    (FWIW, .WAV files are not on the list)

  • Okay everyone is worried about file sharing I have to question how it'd affect the other primary use graphics and editing? I drag media files across a network all day long. If it restricts that then it's a paperweight. Not sure what the real limitations are but I'll guarantee you I'll avoid Western Digital unless I'm a 100% sure it's not an issue. Even with corporate use media files are a common way to communicate and provide training. Large drives that can't handle media files are virtually useless.
  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <john3@cornell[ ]om ['s.c' in gap]> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:34PM (#21604759) Homepage Journal
    The limitation on the media files is when using the WD Anywhere Access. You can still backup and share your music files within your own network and even remotely. Not being totally familiar with the product, but I assume they have "guest" or anonymous sharing folders where you can "Offer your clients an easy way to access business documents, designs, and artwork." They probably also include some proprietary WD client program that lets you access your media files from remote locations so you can play your MP3's while at some hotel in Aruba. So the drive isn't an anchor, but it can't be popped on to the net and easily used to share MP3's with the world. Seems simple enough.

    Comcast would likely throttle down your Internet connection anyway once they saw all those MP3's being streamed. :)
  • by harmonica ( 29841 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#21604773)
    My Book(TM) World Edition(TM) []

    What it holds:
    Up to 285,000 digital photos
    Up to 250,000 songs (MP3)
    Up to 25,000 songs (uncompressed CD quality)
    Up to 76 hours of Digital Video (DV)
    Up to 400 hours of DVD quality video
    Up to 100 hours of HD video
  • Perhaps somebody with 220 million pages of .txt files they need to share?
    Those .txt files might be copyrighted, after all. In fact, they almost certainly are.

    Come to think of it, same goes for the .jpg files, too. Hmmmm....

  • Well that is useful.
  • It's irrelevant (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:38PM (#21604833) Homepage
    The mybook we II runs Linux, and it's trivial to get shell on it. You can make it do whatever you want.

    If you really want to know the travesty about the internet access to it, read up on the web. It's a java-based system called Mionet which requires a special client on your windows machine that you'll use to access it remotely. Did I mention the $50/year that you pay a 3rd party to access your own files? Mionet inexplicably forces you to go through their server to get to your files. Do a google search to find horror stories of Mionet being down and people being unable to reach their own files for more than a day. I'm a programmer - I know of no reason to create it this way other than to extract ongoing revenue from those who don't know better. Using dyndns and an open port will let you get to your files reliably from anywhere.

    As for mine, I got shell, disabled the mionet stuff, made sure sshd was coming up every time, and I use it as a really slow Linux machine with a large disk. Be forewarned, it's dog slow. It has a gigabit ethernet port on it that typically pumps out about 50Mbits/sec. Seriously, a 100Mbit port would be half-wasted. Let's not even talk about write speeds.

    If you buy one, note that you also don't need to use their windows setup utility, it has a complete web interface.

    I paid $300 for a 1TB drive, which, frankly, was little more than I would have paid for a plain external drive at the time. Bonus is that I can connect another usb drive into it and share it on the network.

    And one other bonus - it comes with a complete toolchain on its 3GB linux partition, so you can build software on it without having to install other toolchains on another linux machine. The 200MHz processor isn't the fastest at building, but it does fine.
    • I know of no reason to create it this way other than to extract ongoing revenue from those who don't know better.

      My guess would be to allow the device to work with internet connections that don't allow incoming connections. The Mionet server acts as a known connection point that both the WD device and the user computer can access. The downside is that content has to flow through the Mionet server, but at least it works. A better solution would be for the Mionet software to attempt a direct connection

      • Presumably it's a NAT bypass device.

        In that case, they should do it like the Hamachi VPN - use a mediation server to make the initial connection between the two machines, then drop out of the loop.

        The way they're doing it, you have to spend money to use their server. Hamachi can do it for free because their servers aren't hosting the data flow, merely the initial connection protocol.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IronChef ( 164482 )
      ...I know of no reason to create it this way other than to extract ongoing revenue from those who don't know better.

      Making something easy for someone and charging them for the privilege isn't evil.

      Using dyndns and an open port will let you get to your files reliably from anywhere.

      Some people do not know what those things are. Fortunately, there is a service they can choose to purchase.

      Too bad it sucks, but that's another issue.
  • Dvix? Oog? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:39PM (#21604849)
    How on earth are they going to block these formats when they can't even spell [] them?

    I hope the device genuinely blocks the extensions 'dvix' and 'oog' instead of 'divx' and 'ogg', that would be too funny.
    • by iamacat ( 583406 )
      The sad part would be that it blocks dvi files. Here goes the collaboration for publishing use.
  • I don't see anything about restricting .IFO, or .VOB files. Also, I don't see any restriction on .OGG or .OGV. So, basically its the major media sharing formats - theres nothing against ogg vorbis, or any number of other filetypes.
  • Dammit! It looks like they won't let me share my .oog files... []
  • by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:45PM (#21604937)
    From the site:

    Use This Product When You Want To
    * Securely access and edit your files on any computer.
    * Get files from home while at the office.
    * Listen to the music on your My Book World Edition drive while you're on vacation.
    * Securely share photos with your friends anywhere in the world without uploading them to the web.
    * Back up your laptop data to your home computer while you're traveling.
    * Offer your clients an easy way to access business documents, designs, and artwork. Eliminates the need for a separate FTP server.
    * Back up critical files to a remote drive for the ultimate protection from loss.
    * Simplify your home network and access data from any computer or external hard drive in the house.
    * Automatically back up all your PCs to one central location.
    * Gain peace of mind with a mirrored back up of important documents and images.

    What It Holds:
    Up to 571,000 digital photos
    Up to 500,000 songs (MP3)
    Up to 50,000 songs (uncompressed CD quality)
    Up to 100 hours of Digital Video (DV)
    Up to 800 hours of DVD quality video
    Up to 200 hours of HD video
    Now, granted these limitations only extend to "Anywhere Access", so you could still presumably use the device on a local network or plugged in to a specific machine, but it seems like blatant false advertising to say that you could listen to your music while on vacation when it doesn't let you use that service on the vast majority of music files.
  • Really, WD?
    Is it your place to be the cop here? Shouldn't I - as a fully aware (or not, the law doesn't make a distinction) adult - have the freedom to share whatever type of file I wish?

    Wouldn't (and shouldn't) it be my butt on the line if I'm sharing my 19 volume set of "The Best of Barry Manilow" all willy-nilly across the Internet?

    Please get your industry-browned nose out of my business, and let me worry about the repercussions if I get caught violating copyrights.
  • If you're going to pick sides on the media's "war on the public", you had better be on the same side. I for one will not be buying any more Western Digital products. I don't recall giving them permission to censor what I choose to store on a hard drive. I hope this comes back and bites them in the face.
  • even then... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:55PM (#21605071)
    >>> A reader noted that the media files are only restricted between users of the same drive. Not quite as bad as originally pitched.

    I still wouldn't buy one. Furthermore I'd demand a refund including shipping costs on any product I accidentally bought that didn't make this functionality VERY clear on the packaging, and also on the web-page if I bought it online.
  • "Western Digital restricts sales of network drives"

  • Do those trigger the self-destruct feature or something? Who in the hell do they think they are?
  • QNAP (Score:4, Informative)

    by michrech ( 468134 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:59PM (#21605109)
    I think the QNAP devices are far nicer, though they will be more expensive in the long run. They even run linux and are customizable (people run all sorts of different server services from them).

    Here [] is a bunch of their different devices ( link).

    I'm considering getting the TS-209 (or the PRO, haven't made up my mind), personally. I have two 320gb SATAII drives sitting around not doing anything since I've stopped running WHS and could really use a nice low power device to replace the computer I was using for this task. :)
  • I was thinking about getting a "My Book" for someone this Christmas, but if this is the sort of shit they're up to....
  • I've been trying to get WDC to honor their warranty on one of these very drives for over a month now.

    I have a two-disk version and one of the disks failed. It should be pretty simple to replace it under warranty, right? Oh, hell no.

    Never again will I buy another WDC product if I can help it.
  • That means nothing to me! How many Libraries of Congress, please - a relevant unit of measure if there ever was one.
  • Madness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:13PM (#21605309) Homepage Journal
    So, apparently, because Western Digital can't determine whether or not I have the correct license to share my files, from a device I own, I'm not allowed to do it?


    Whatever happened to "substantially non-infringing use"?

    One could imagine an archive of freely redistributable video. I would have a use for such a device.
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#21605743) Homepage Journal

    Why would I buy such a large drive if I don't intend on using it for media.

    It really isn't WD's place to restrict filesharing.

    1. In the first place, this is a troubling precedent. My own hardware won't obey my instructions? Does WD believe they still own the machine, even after I've bought it?
    2. Technical issues aside, this means that most users won't be able to share their home videos and sound recordings. So, no garage band videos allowed.
    3. Media files aren't the only things copyrighted. For example, most text files, binaries programs, etc... are also copyrighted. In fact, almost every file on your PC, is copyrighted. So if WD is concerned about copyright violations, they shouldn't allow any type of file to be shared.

    This is truly a troubling precedent. The problem is that by building a device which automatically attempts to enforce copyright law, they build a precedent which can be used against them in the future:

    • RIAA Lawyer: So you manufactured the device knowing full well it could be used for copyright infringement, did you not?
    • WD: Well, um, yes.
    • RIAA Lawyer: So you admit that you contributed to copyright infringement, do you not?
    • WD: Well, it's not like that -
    • RIAA Lawyer: Yes! Yes it is like that! See - you put the restriction on filesharing on one of your drives, but neglected to place it on the rest of them! So you could have prevented filesharing, but chose not to. You deliberately made this device capable of copyright infringement...
    • Later... During Congressional anti-terrorism hearings...
    • Expert: Yes, we've known for a long time that simulating a nuclear weapon requires large amounts of data - typically beyond the capacity of the PC, until WD started manufacturing large capacity disks...
    • Congresscritter: (to WD) Why did you make such large capacity drives?
    • WD: Well, we intended them to be used for media...
    • Congresscritter: Such as movies?
    • WD: Well, um...
    • Congresscritter: Because that would be copyright infringement.
    • WD: Um, no. We didn't intend them to be used for copyright infringement.
    • Congresscritter: Ah, so you intended them to be used for something else? What else would someone do with a terabyte of data?
    • WD: Well, um...
    • Congresscritter: It's fairly obvious to everyone here that you helped terrorist countries with their nuclear ambitions - you even went so far as to make the drive unable to share media. Clearly, you had some other purpose in mind.... Let me help you out here - you knew they could be used for terrorism, but hoped that no one would find out. You put your profits above the safety and security of the American people.

    Electronic devices don't decide what's legal and illegal - the courts do. When people think that they are capable of doing so, two key things are going to happen:

    1. Manufacturers will be held liable for any illegal use of their products, and:
    2. To minimize liability, the functionality available to the end user will be extremely crippled.

    It is really unfortunate when our fear of what someone might do with technology overrules the good that they are doing with it.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell