Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Western Digital Service Restricts Use of Network Drives

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

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:24PM (#21604569) Homepage Journal

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

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

  • 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 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 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?"
  • 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 slazzy ( 864185 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:30PM (#21604683) Homepage Journal
    My_movie_name.divx.removethis works great too - then you can write a simple script to parse off .removethis from all the files once they are on your computer.
  • by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:33PM (#21604743)
    Or, just set associations so .REM files open with Media Player Classic.
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#21604769) Homepage Journal

    It's easier to point out that you can't use these drives to share your movies and songs. People want network storage for the same thing they use YouTube for, movies of their kids and other fun for out of town friends and family. No avi == no sale.

    More devices will be like this until they are legally mandated. This is the kind of network the MAFIAA wants to build. It looks a lot like the old network that served them well. You are only invited to purchase. Government will be happy that way too. YouTube is bad enough for them. If people could simply share through their own equipment, censorship would be impossible and the terroris^H^H public good would win [slashdot.org]. Watch out for the Next DMCA type act to outlaw general purpose computing access to networks. ESR predicted stuff like this three years ago [catb.org]:

    Expect Microsoft to ally even more closely with the RIAA and MPAA in making yet another try at hardware-based DRM restrictions and legislation making them mandatory. The rationale will be to stop piracy and spam, but the real goal will be customer control and a lockout of all unauthorized software. Two previous attempts at this have failed, but the logic of Microsoft's situation is such that they must keep trying.

    I also expect a serious effort, backed by several billion dollars in bribe money (oops, excuse me, campaign contributions), to get open-source software outlawed on some kind of theory that it aids terrorists.

    ESR had some good ways to fight this loss of freedom, but the easiest is to let people know that restricted devices don't do what they want to them to do.

  • 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 [custhelp.com] 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 truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:36PM (#21604811) Homepage Journal
    How about not buying a crippled product in the first place?
  • 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 [custhelp.com] them?

    I hope the device genuinely blocks the extensions 'dvix' and 'oog' instead of 'divx' and 'ogg', that would be too funny.
  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:40PM (#21604867)

    The question we need to be asking is - "How can I replace the firmware on that thing and make it my bitch?"

    No, the question we should be asking is "who sells a device that we don't have to jump through hoops to do what I want?"

    Seriously, why even bother giving money to a business that restricts usage like this?

  • Better Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:42PM (#21604917)
    Here's a much better idea: buy Seagate, Hitachi, or Samsung instead. Why on earth would you want to reward a vendor for doing the wrong thing?
  • by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:47PM (#21604971) Homepage Journal
    And that is indeed what it holds. What it lets go of is a different list. Caveat emptor.
  • Hahah; what a POS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:47PM (#21604973)
    Look at the list of file types it refuses to share! I mean any mp*, AVI, AIFF, MOV?

    Think of how far out there, mentally, you have to go to equate simple file formats with "unverifiable licensing"?

    Seriously, these small but deliberate attempts to "narrow down" the ability to share information, except where and when the puppet masters dictate, are quite disturbing. This product/company needs to fail.
  • 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.
  • duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:58PM (#21605101)
    I don't understand why all these corporations feel like they are suddenly in the business of policing for the RIAA/MPAA

    Cause they don't want to get sued.
  • Here's the deal. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:00PM (#21605123)
    For those of you who can't read the updates. WD restricts access to media (in a half-assed way) when shared, essentially, "to the public". In fact they probably have to do this. Joe user dumps his MP3's on the disk, connects it to the net, then later wants Jane to have access to some other files. Oops, Mp3's shared - Joe has illegally shared copyrighted material. Both record companies and Joe can sue WD.

    So nothing evil here, outside of the fact that WD probably has to do this to CTA (cover their asses).
  • My guess (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:02PM (#21605157)
    I don't understand why all these corporations feel like they are suddenly in the business of policing for the RIAA/MPAA

    ... is that it's the legal bigwigs.

    Someone at wd asked the question, "Could we be liable for hosting illegal content on our devices?"

    Which should read - "Could we be liable for 3rd parties storing illegal content on their devices?"

    Bigwigs answer - "Yes"

    Management, in their infinite wisdom, "Take it down"

    Was it Shakespeare that said, "First, we kill all the lawyers"?

  • by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:03PM (#21605171) Homepage
    Are you friggin serious? They're really saying "if you call your data something dot mp3 we won't take it but if you call is data something dot someting else it works fine"?


    Oh well. Their drives are banned here for near universal premature and catastrophic failures anyway.

  • Madness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwin@nOsPaM.amiran.us> 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 mystik ( 38627 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:20PM (#21605383) Homepage Journal
    What if Joe created the mp3, and has owner rights?

    What if Joe has Worldwide distribution rights?

    How does Joe explain to his hard drive that he's not a criminal by default?

    Why does Joe have to explain to his hard drive that he's not a criminal by default?
  • by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:20PM (#21605391)
    So, why doesn't the media companies sue MS for letting Kaza run on Windows? Same logic. Or what about Dell for selling computers that can function as a server?
  • by thegrassyknowl ( 762218 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:25PM (#21605473)

    Both record companies and Joe can sue WD.

    What kind of sad world is it when a manufacturer makes a device that can share files on the Internet. Joe puts his files on there and puts it on the Internet. Jane (and everyone) can access all of Joe's private files because he was too lazy/ignorant to bother securing them. Joe and record companies sue product maker because product performed AS EXPECTED!

    There's been a lot of using the legal system to get compensation for people's own stupidity lately. It's sad that it's spilled over to products that now carry spurious warning labels (the frisbee that says "do not throw toward people") or functionality so limited as to make it not worth buying in the first place.

    Of course, this whole post is based on the postulation that WD have implemented this blocking of files to cover their asses from legal action.

  • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:33PM (#21605577) Journal
    Actually that's about the just of it.

    The LAST thing I need when buying hardware is to have a fucking piece of HARDWARE deciding what files it will / will not hold. Hardware is hardware - do what I tell you to do, do it reliably and without questioning my motives, intent, or desires.

    This is tantamount to a car that won't turn left because the onboard GPS doesn't think there's a road there - well guess what, I'm not driving to work by committee. When it comes to hardware, when I say 'jump' your ONLY question better be 'how high?'

    The important thing to remember is : I'm going to forget ~why~ I don't buy Western Digital hardware long before I forget that I ~don't~ buy Western Digital hardware. A year or now it will simply be 'I don't remember why, but there's no fucking way I would buy a WD drive.'
  • by ad0gg ( 594412 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:38PM (#21605659)

    How is a bash on Microsoft insightful when the article is about Western Digital? Did microsoft force western digital to restrict file types?

    Microsoft eats babies. Mod me up as insightful.

  • 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.

  • t has one particular feature, optionally installed, that allows access to your drive from the Internet at large, and this one feature limits the filetypes you can share.

    Sooo, if I want to buy one to use as a server to allow all of my relatives to get pictures of the family and such, it will work. If I throw in an MPG of my son playing soccer, oooops... denied.

    Wow. What a great feature.

    Point is, it still sucks. Arbitrary limits based on the file extentions are stupid and pointless.
  • by cicatrix1 ( 123440 ) <cicatrix1.gmail@com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:30PM (#21606295) Homepage
    That's because they misspelled it OOG. Or is that some other filetype I've just never heard of?
  • by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:29PM (#21606885)
    But that could be applied to any number of things. For example, the purpose of a VCR recorder is to record things, Sony however won a case in which they proved that because the VCR had legitimate uses, it could be sold (that was before Sony became an arm of the *IAA and started making rootkits). A kitchen knife can have many uses, but they are still cutting and slicing, however, it would be utter stupidity to start making knives that automatically dulled whenever there was human presence. Or think of BitTorrent, there are many legitimate uses for it, I can download Linux ISOs and other Open-Source software, or I can download "protected" music and movies, however, if we started filtering .iso files from BitTorrent because I can send an image of a new game with it, that would be the same thing. There are Many, Many, Many other uses for sharing .MP3, WMA, OGG, AVI and other files via a network other then "unauthorized use" for example, you might want to send a MP3/OGG/WMA of someone in your family singing a song, however this would be blocked because it could be "unauthorized use" of it. Western Digital has gone to extremes to make sure that no one can use a 1 TB hard-disk as intended, to store and share media files, (I don't happen to have 1 TB of just text files.....) it is yet another product defective by design.
  • 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.

  • Chances are that your connectivity provider's terms that you agreed to prohibit running a server over the link anyway.
    And that justifies selectively disabling what file extensions can be served from a network-attached device that's designed to work as a server...how, exactly?

    If WD cared about keeping your ISP happy, they never would have included any remote-access features in the first place. But they obviously did, but then they blocked it from serving certain types of files. That's not for the ISPs' benefit, clearly. It's for the media companies'.

    Besides which, the whole "you can't run a server" rule is barely enforced. It's there, as far as I can tell, to keep idiots from calling the tech support desks asking why GoToMyPC doesn't work right -- it's an easy way to end the conversation and get the clueless people to give up. If ISPs really wanted to enforce that, they could quite easily block incoming connections much more effectively than they do. But they don't bother, and are mostly content to just tell you that servers are prohibited, but let people who know what they're doing access their computers remotely anyway.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.