BoingBoing – December 6, 2007:

“This is the most extreme example I’ve seen yet of tech companies crippling data devices in order to please Hollywood: 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?”

A complete list of unauthorized files can be found here. Western Digital claims they have to block such files from being shared “due to unverifiable media license authentication.” To put it in human-speak: Those files might be copyrighted, and for some reason, Western Digital has set itself up as the copyright judge, jury, and executioner of your hard drive and data!

Slashdot points out that there are ways around this. Sure. There always are. But that’s not the point. The point is that hard drive manufacturers should never make any assumptions about my data. It’s my hard drive and it’s my data and I should always be allowed to access it.



  1. music says:

    I create music files (usually mp3) all the time of my own original work. I also make video files (avi, mpeg) of original work. Are they going to restrict my sharing of my own original work?

  2. Eric says:

    Devil’s Advocate position here.

    I’m not focusing on the individual private computers here; I’m talking about networks for small businesses. Sure, we could just bring the hammer down on the employees and do things the hard way, but we’re trying to treat our employees with respect and trust, while at the same time protecting ourselves.

    As an IT manager for a small network of users this is a good thing. The users here think they know better than I about the impact in both CPU cycles and time of sharing pirated copies of works the RIAA is cracking down on. These users constantly put the company itself at risk of litigation because of their lack of knowledge about the RIAA and file sharing. It’s a constant PR battle within the walls of the company.

    The employees need access to the different drives on the network to get the job done. This need exposes the company to a list of potential problems by those who don’t understand the risks involved.

    They quickly forget, or flat out don’t care that the owner of the drives are not the employees, but rather, the company and they ones exposed to potential litigation are not the employees, but the company itself.

    Programs that do this have been previously available, but at cost prohibitive prices.

    Bottom line, there is a segment of the marketplace that will welcome this with open arms as protection for them.

    Then again, if it weren’t for the Gestapo tactics of organizations such as the RIAA, none of us would have to worry about this sort of thing in the first place.

  3. Eric says:

    [Duplicate comment. - Deleted. - ed.]

  4. Angel H. Wong says:

    Methinks that Western is justr trying to be preemptive considering that sooner or later the MPAA and RIAA is going to sue HD manufacturers and/or convince Congress to charge a hefty piracy levy tax for the HD.

  5. framitz says:

    The post is INACCURATE and inflammatory. Local network sharing is unaffected. It is the MIOnet component that is the problem. Nobody in their right mind would run the MIOnet crap anyway.

    So.

    This is a NON-ISSUE.

    Seagate? I don’t think so, never,ever. Any company that charges me to replace defective product under warranty never get’s another chance for my business.

  6. Yaaar! says:

    “WD accuses all hard drive users of being pirates…”

    A lie. A contemptible blob of horked mendacity. Bovine effluent designed to attract attention with no consideration for others.

    Yes, a particular WD appliance restricts shares based on file type. Yes, that is an unwarranted restriction based on a ludicrous assumption. So don’t buy the product.

    Will you be unable to run uTorrent on your PC with a WD drive? Of course not. That’s what Comcast is for.

    We’re all a little prickly about Corporate Morons enforcing the will of the Content Mafia, but at least try to pretend to present of image of fairness. There’s no need to make Digg and /. look good.

  7. EdgyDude says:

    anyone else hear that sound? it’s the sound of millions of persons sending WD’s products going straight to hell, i think the most benefited out of this ordeal will be WD’s competitors that will soon find themselves with an overflow of customers once the people get ahold of this news.

  8. phiend says:

    this county is f**ked up

  9. GetSmart says:

    Wasted Digital has been on my avoid list for years now anyway.

    WD TV commercial starring DeForest Kelly –
    “It’s DEAD, Jim!”

  10. seminiferous says:

    These hdd makers have made a bundle off of piracy. People need a place to store all that stolen stuff and the RAIA and MPAA know it. I doubt the MPAA or RAIA threatened them with anything but that some farsighted attorney in WD internal legal dept. saw the risk.
    This is such a stupid business move no company could possibly make it w/o the help of their attorney’s telling them they’re going to get sued. This hurts their reputation and provides them w/ no revenue. To make your business moves based on what someone in legal thinks might limit liability is a terrible way to do business.

  11. Terry says:

    Jesus Christ! This technology even prevents open source Ogg Vorbis files from being shared! Outrageous! What is the point of having such a drive if these kinds of files cannot be accessed by any other computer on the network? Local access only really limits its usefulness. I predict WD will kill this “Anywhere Access” idea as soon as consumers figure out the name is a blatant lie.

  12. Alpha says:

    I was just looking at purchasing a new Hard Drive – For the past 15+ years I used only WD drives for me and all my clients, and they worked great – guess it is time to look into other options.

    If you have stock in this company now is the time to sell -

  13. Lenin says:

    WD HAS TO BE THE MOST IRRESPONSIBLE COMPANY EVER TO PUT OUT A PRODUCT. I’M KEEPING THIS SHORT. I BOUGHT AN EXTERNAL DRIVE FROM WD AND STORED ALL MY PICTURES AND VIDEOS ON THERE THEN FOUR MONTHS DOWN THE LINE IT FAILS AND I END UP LOSING ALL MY PICS AND VIDS. NOT EVEN A RECOVERING AGENCY WAS ABLE TO RETAIN MY DATA. I CALLED WD AND THEY REPLACED IT WITH A NEWER VERSION AFTER I THREATEN THEM TO SPREAD THE WORD. THEY SEND ME ANOTHER ONE AND COME TO FIND OUT, IT FAILS TO RUN AFTER 2 WEEKS!!! THEY HAS GARBAGE PRODUCTS. I HAVE HAD A SEAGATE EXTERNAL FOR ALMOST 5 YEARS NOW AND IT’S STILL GOING AND GOING AND GOING. MY ADVISE…..DON’T BUY A WESTERN DIGITAL DRIVE UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND LOSING YOUR DATA.

  14. VEE VILL KONTROL YOU!!!!!!! VEE VILL!!! VE VILL!! says:

    Ah, kammerades, gottdamerung on joo! Do ass vee say, yoo arrr slaves!!!!!!!