Using the European championship to spread malware

2008-06-07

Microsoft is pushing their evil SilverLight platform very hard. They want to make sure that providers of cross-platform software for delivering rich applications via the web browser are thwarted. This is normal behavior for a monopolistic company and certainly for Microsoft. To accomplish this goal they are throwing around bucketloads of money and FUD to get content providers to use the Microsoft malware Silverlight exclusively.

Their latest feat is the way they exploit the European soccer championship 2008. They have made a deal with a government funded Dutch broadcaster to deliver a live stream of all soccer games. The snag is: all visitors to the broadcast website must download and install the Microsoft malware called SilverLight.

malware for your computer

malware for your computer

Most of the internet using Adobe Flash to serve up movies. This is evil too, but at least it is cross-platform evil.

Actually, you do not really need to use Silverlight. There is an alternative. You can use a Microsoft mediastream. This stream has been DRM-ed. This means it can only be played on Windows and you cannot play it more then once unless Microsoft allows you to.

So this is the choice Microsoft is offering: lock-down A or lock-down B. And the Dutch broadcaster NOS is helping them control you.

If, like me, you do not like this, please mail NOS.

Comments

alarming

I use the websites of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting as well for watching video streams. I hadn't noticed they use Silverlight now, thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm not interested in soccer at all, but I think it's very alarming that they are pushing Microsoft's restrictive technologies down our throats with tax payer's money.

I will certainly e-mail the NOS, but I doubt they'll care. Last time I sent an e-mail I received a reply that my message was forwarded to the appropriate redaction, then I never heard from them again. If the same happens with the e-mail I will be writing about this subject, I think we should start writing e-mails to our representatives in the Dutch lower house. Locking out Unix/Linux users from watching their video streams is the bloody limit which we should not allow them to pass.

I wonder though, if it would be possible to use Moonlight - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonlight_(runtime) - for watching the video streams? However, Moonlight hasn't seen a stable release yet apparently.

Will certainly mail NOS -

Will certainly mail NOS - but if you peer at the (XML) Silverlight source it turns out that the Silverlight control is just a container for an embedded Windows Media stream - one without DRM (with 'nondrm' in the filename), presumably for compatibility. So the DRMing of the other embedded stream seems fairly ridiculous.

Edit: Well, that didn't last long. It just disconnected me and when I try playing it again, the 'nondrm' stream is DRMed too.

e-mailed them too

I do not even like football, but they waste enough of my money tax money on it to give me unbroken streams :) I've emailed the NOS too. I wonder if I'll get a response. All my previous emails to various websites that offer exotic filetypes like this one seemed to have gone to C:\My Dev Null

I agree that they should let

I agree that they should let us CHOOSE OUR OWN OS. (and I will email them)

And as for Moonlight: even if it could read the XML, it couldn't read the DRMed stream.

What can Silverlight do that Flash cannot?

Response

Here's the response I got:
In reply to your e-mail I inform you that it is also possible to watch
the live EK broadcasting in Windows Media Player, which is also playable
in Linux and Mac. You can click at the link at the right top of the page

Did they remove the DRM?

Moonlight

Flash isn't really cross-platform. The only reason we have a Flash 9 on Linux is because a guy kept volunteering to write it, and bugging Adobe over and over again. They weren't going to do it themselves.

Microsoft is helping to develop Moonlight so that you can have Silverlight content on Linux. Even better, they are also working to ensure that the plugin will work in both 32-bit and 64-bit browsers, on both platforms. That would make it more cross-platform than anything else.

Most of Microsoft's tactics are evil. And frankly, it is up to each web developer to choose their platforms. You are blaming Microsoft for this site using Silverlight, when it was up to them to pick their platform.

Nihilism makes me smile.

Mail back from the NOS

I sent an email about this to the NOS yesterday, this is what they just replied (translated to english and a bit shortened):

===
1) We didn't 'switch' to Silverlight, we added it to the existing (drm'd) WMV stream. So nothing has changed, just something has been added.

2) We added Silverlight because it works for MacOS, which the existing WMV stream did not.

3) Silverlight isn't usable for Linux users, but the existing WMV streams also weren't.

4) We apply DRM not because we like to, but because we have to, forced by the UEFA. So no DRM means no streams at all. In fact, if it was up to me everyone could see the streams, so that's why we show The Olympics and the Tour de France without DRM.
===

Point 1, 2 and 3 aren't really answering my question. I asked why they chose for a closed malfunctioning format, and they answered that nothing is new here, because they already used a closed malfunctioning format in the past and they just added one.

Point 4 seems valid though. FIFA and UEFA are known to suck so it seems logical. I think it'll come down to persuade the NOS to not waste any more money on these crooked soccer associations and leave soccer to the commercial parties.