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Western Digital under fire for blocking multimedia file sharing

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 12 Dec 2007 23:18 User comments (20)

Western Digital under fire for blocking multimedia file sharing Last week Western Digital came under fire from a number of technology news sites for their Anywhere Access software, which is designed to allow users of the company's backup and Web sharing storage device, the My Book World Edition, to share files over the internet. The problem for many users is that it won't share most common multimedia formats.
The issue was first brought to light last week when a post on BoingBoing called the company's decision to control sharing of such files "the most extreme example I've seen yet of tech companies crippling data devices in order to please Hollywood." Despite the rhetoric, the author makes an excellent point when he asks "who needs a 1 Terabyte network-connected hard drive that is prohibited from serving most media files?"

According to reports the answer to this question from Western Digital boils down to claims of ignorance about what users might want to do with the device, and concerns about protecting copyright holders' rights. As the bad PR from this move mounted last week, Western Digital went on the offiensive - sort of, with Director of Marketing Brian Miller talking to some tech writers hoping to put a positive face on the situation.

"The company has started out very conservatively in creating a certain set of features and functions," he told InformationWeek. "As we go forward, the goal is to listen to what the marketplace needs and wants, and identify the most appropriate solution that respects intellectual property."

It's understandable that so many people are questioning Western Digital's honesty in this matter since few people have need for such a large device for any reason except sharing media files, and aside from something like CD or DVD images there isn't much call to share non-multimedia files from such a device. As far as protecting others' IP rights, Western Digital has no legal responsibility to worry about the copyright of files being shared by individuals who buy their products or liability for any civil or criminal violations those customers engage in while using their hardware.

On the other hand they do have a responsibility to ensure that the products they sell work as advertised, which arguably includes making sure that customers are aware of limitations like this one that few people would assume for a device designed to share files, which to many people automatically conjures images of multimedia files and little or nothing else.

Sources:
BoingBoing
Computerworld 1, 2
InformationWeek

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20 user comments

112.12.2007 23:43
cousinkix
Inactive

Don't buy this crippled product and it will disaapear from the market. Good riddance...

213.12.2007 2:37

got that right nough said

313.12.2007 2:55

The entertainment industry, namely big media labels and their affiliates have seriously blurred and abused copyright law, that even the big players in the IT industry are holding services back in fear of being sued. If WD are not in fear, then what are their reasons for such a restriction?

What hope does this leave for the small businesses who wish to start up online services?

I don't know how these large corps can get away (short of paying off those who oppose) with putting fear into the market which obviously inhibits innovation and competition. Surely this is illegal?

Isn't that how the Mafia operate, by putting fear into people?

This is not right!! I will continue to boycott all products and services that touch the hands of large media labels, RIAA, MPAA, IFPI etc until I feel confident I am not supporting organised crime.

F__K em!

413.12.2007 7:04
ali2007
Inactive

why do they this dumb thing ,are we now going to dumb corporate people parenting how to clean our a*s, and how not to

513.12.2007 9:42

Does the service unpack images or other forms of compression? If not, save your multimedia files in .daa (PowerIso)or a similar format.

613.12.2007 10:43

I guess this goes to prove this country is defidently run by the dollar.

Dictionary.com definition of Terrorism: 1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
Seems to me that the RIAA and MPAA can easily be defined as terrorists and have judgement fall upon them!

Personally I think the next time I go out to buy a HDD, I will be buying a Seagate rather than a Western Digital. I already converted most of my purchasing from Sony to other brands. I guess Western Digital is now also going on my list.

713.12.2007 13:16

WOW couldnt believe this was true till I saw the reviews on newegg.com reviews which were brutal. What the hell else would be sharing on 300GB plus HDD. I can honestly say without a doubt WD would go bankrupted if they were to implement this on all their drives. Hell this bad PR will have the entire tech community not buying their products.

813.12.2007 13:30

Well I for one have stopped using WD for awhile now.
Seagate has better warranties and I have not had a problem with them at all. With WD on the other I have had lots of problems and now that they only come with a 1 year warranty for the same price as the Seagate drives with a 5 year warranty why you would any one buy them.

913.12.2007 18:19

Does this mean that all Western Digital External Hard drives will be crippled in this way?

1013.12.2007 18:59

I picked up on this limitation by reading the REALLY fine print in the products description. Totally bogus.

1113.12.2007 20:48
AXT
Inactive

Dump Western Digital and go Seagate. Let them learn their lesson.

1213.12.2007 23:45

Seagate owns Western Digital,so be careful they are the parent company so probably set the policies for the company.

1314.12.2007 3:13

Hmmm if I can't store media files, just think of all the millions of Word docs that I'll be able to share!

Can they release firmware updates for this at a later date to clear the restrictive software?

1414.12.2007 3:30
dorkydork
Inactive

i agree this is bs. but you should know that online boycotting does little to NOTHING to help the situation. sending western digital your feedback will do wonders. if you have a problem email them. let them know now or send them links to this article. boycotting is mainly useless. don't let companies guess how you feel. tell them now.

1514.12.2007 3:32

Originally posted by dorkydork:
i agree this is bs. but you should know that online boycotting does little to NOTHING to help the situation. sending western digital your feedback will do wonders. if you have a problem email them. let them know now or send them links to this article. boycotting is mainly useless. don't let companies guess how you feel. tell them now.
HERE HERE!

1615.12.2007 4:06

Who needs a 1 terabyte network connected storage device? I do..I got some much media for my whole house...I basically share within,sometimes around my neighborhood...but keep it on teh hush

1715.12.2007 11:31

Why the hell would you make a 1 TB drive and then restrict the use of said drive? What kind of business model is that? SCREW 'EM

1824.12.2007 0:13

If Western Digita; put DRM type restrictions on their hard drives they will not get anywhere. They need to leave a hard drive to be able to load anything on to it. If they want to stop anything they can try to stop viruses and worms and all the bad stuff from infecting them rather than this crappy idea.

1925.12.2007 14:28

If everyone sticks together and doesnt buy this product the will fall... screw em

2025.12.2007 18:07
dorkydork
Inactive

Originally posted by Jimg1220:
If everyone sticks together and doesnt buy this product the will fall... screw em
right, assuming everyone knows this and will read this post before they buy it...

besides the drm, the concept is great. is there anything else out there that is like this??? i need a server / remote hd like this to backup my files to. does the ps3 have this remote file / server access?

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