HBO Exec Wants To Change "DRM" to "Digital Consumer Enablement"

Get ready for DCE, or “Digital Consumer Enablement”, HBO’s new name for DRM. HBO’s CTO Bob Zitter says DRM is a misnomer, because the technology “allows consumers “to use content in ways they haven’t before.”

“I don’t want to use the term DRM any longer,” said Zitter. According to the AP, Zitter confessed privately after a panel discussion that it’s lack of DRM (ha, ha, ha) that is keeping HBO from releasing programs OnDemand. Why? Because set top boxes allow analog output through the use of component cables and the mean old FCC won’t let HBO disable them. “They say we can’t turn off the analog output,” Zitter said.

Our only observation is that “enablement” is not a word, according to Merriam Webster, so we guess that one cuold define it any way one wanted. Anyone want to start a Wikipedia entry? Or maybe this is a job for Wikiality?—MEGHANN MARCO

HBO’s Zitter Says DRM Is Misnomer [Broadcast Newsroom] (Thanks, Alex!)
(Photo: nim)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sandtiger says:

    How can limitations and constraints possibly be called “customer enablement?” Enablement implies that customers can do something they previously were unable to do. I don’t see that in this example. Just like as in DRM I see this as yet another attempt at finding new revenue streams on products that were previously free or included as part of a product.

  2. tcp100 says:

    I think HBO may need to enforce some involuntary staff redundancies.

    Hint, guys. Changing what you call something doesn’t change the realities of it.

  3. Falconfire says:

    @tcp100: Already happening. Their CEO was fired today for going off the wagon…. for like the millionth time.

  4. thinkliberty says:

    DCE is another term for digitally created excrement and it’s still defective by design

  5. Skeptic says:

    Ha! I guess the current euphemism is no longer euphemistic enough and must be replaced with an Orwellian one! Digital playback restrictions != Enablement.

    Hey, while were at it let’s rename UOPs–the “User Operation Prohibited” feature on DVD players that keeps you from skipping the trailers and warnings–Consumer Enhanced Operation. Or End User License Agreements that allow companies–but not consumers–to change any and all parts of the agreement retroactively at anytime could be called Consumer Empowerment Agreements.

    Gotta hope this one is just too transparently pathetic to catch on…

    Slightly OT:
    For those looking to pyrrhicly fight such nonsense there is’s anti ELUA:

    READ CAREFULLY. By [accepting this material|accepting this payment|accepting this business-card|viewing this t-shirt|reading this sticker] you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

  6. doublespeak plus-plus-ungood

  7. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Well, “Digital Rights Enablement” certainly…..*Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoop*…oh, sorry about that, my bullshit detector is picking up a level 10 BS field heading straight for the consumer at warp 10.

    Come on, that’s the lousiest excuse for a euphamism I’ve ever seen. How about something less blantant and pandering like “the magic happy unicorn rainbow movie protection elves.”

  8. magic8ball says:

    Truly, Mr. Zitter has a dizzying intellect. I would seriously like to know how DRM allows me to use content in ways I haven’t before.

  9. ungsunghero says:

    I agree with Mr. Zitter. I propose that we should change Digital Rights Management to Digital Use Management. We could call it DUM for short.

  10. Karl says:

    The analog outputs are the least of their worries. The on-demand systems I’ve seen don’t encrypt their streams at all, even from premium channels. All you need to watch someone else’s porn is a QAM-capable TV or tuner.

    Of course, since you don’t have control of the video stream, you also have to watch them replay the money shot over and over.

  11. Skeptic says:

    I don’t want to use the term DRM any longer,” said Zitter

    …then don’t use DRM! Dufus. It’s the thing not the name that annoys your customers.

    Newer HD set-tops that have a digital output with digital copy protection, such as DVI or HDMI, could allow HBO viewers to enjoy HD content on-demand while protecting HBO’s economic interest. But most viewers with such set-tops are still using their analog outputs and component video cables, which cost less than HDMI cables, to connect them to their HD sets.
    Theoretically, says Zitter, those analog outputs could be disabled, forcing consumers to use a secure digital connection to watch HD content. But current FCC rules don’t give HBO or cable operators that power, in order to protect consumers who bought early HDTV sets that don’t support digital copy protection.
    “They say we can’t turn off the analog output,” Zitter notes.

    Hmm…too bad Zitter can’t turn off the analog outputs and obsolete your analog in HDTV yet! I’m sure there is another fine euphemism opportunity there, like disabling analog outs == Digital Quality Assurance.

  12. timmus says:

    “Enablement”? That’s not even a word. How about we just call that an “assism”?

  13. ajn007 says:

    Enablement is a perfectly cromulant word.

  14. lizzybee says:

    In other news:

    War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

  15. Spider Jerusalem says:

    “cuold” isn’t a word either.

    *shrug* whatever. I’ve never had HBO. I never will have HBO. I can watch whatever when it comes out on DVD, or if my friends throw viewing parties. I’ll not fash myself.

  16. lemur says:


    I agree with you and propose that the Digital Use Management (DUM) be regulated by the Digital Use Management Board (DUMB).

  17. mac-phisto says:

    anybody else still think executives are worth what they’re paid?

  18. Bix says:

    It wouldn’t shock me if they believe that DRM “enables” format shifting, as opposed to the reality which is that it makes it more palatable to them while making it harder for the end users.

  19. Karmakin says:

    Either these people are really stupid, and they don’t realize that once something is out of the bag, it’s out. And everything will get out of the bag.

    Or they’re not, and they’re lying to us and the goal is to lock down the content to prevent any sort of time/media shifting of the content, to force us to purchase it on multiple occasions.

    I for one, when the US government comes to its senses (hopefully), think we should lobby to have the copyrights held by these fraudsters revoked.

  20. Bix says:

    Oh, and in 2007, don’t they realize that very, very few people are copying HDTV at full quality?

  21. @ajn007: Enablement through DCE will enbiggen us all!

    Seriously, the idea that DRM helps consumers at all is so stupid I think I actually lost brain cells reading the article.

  22. MostNutsEver says:

    Enablement – to disable

  23. Cap'n Jack says:

    “allows consumers to use content in ways they haven’t before.”

    Like what? Seems like it just disallows me from doing what I want with what I paid for. What are the benefits of DRM? Or is this just a smokescreen?

  24. Xkeeper says:

    The American public is, in my experience, fucking retarded. With this knowledge, I can say a good 80% of the population — those who buy movies through HBO — will hear “enablement” and go “Oh, thanks, HBO!” and continue giving them money.

    Although, at least to me, “Digital Consumer Enablement” just seems kind of dumb (and it shows how badly they want to fool people away from DRM…) They should at least use something like “Digital Content Enhancer” or such. At least then it wouldn’t sound so bad.

    What’d be really nice is if someone shot them for false advertisement, since this doesn’t “enable” anything at all…

    …unless they mean “enables them to be forced to upgrade to a newer HDTV, locking them into shitty DRM”.

  25. xkaluv says:

    Call it what you want… we’ll call it what it is… useless crap!

  26. tvh2k says:

    En*a”ble*ment (?), n. The act of enabling, or the state of being enabled; ability.

    Source: Webster Dictionary, 1913

  27. MeOhMy says:

    Oh…Digital Consumer Enablement? Why didn’t you say so before? I’m all for enabling consumers.

    This reminds me of the day I noticed that software publishers was distributing “Limited Edition” software. I’m not an old man, but when I was growing up in the crazy 80s, “Limited Edition” meant a limited run of something. Of course it was usually garbage because the “limit” was in the gajillions of units so it was just another ploy.

    These guys were handing out crippleware. The “Limited Edition” meant “Limited Functionality,” not “Limited In Number.”

    I think in this case the “Digital” in “Digital Consumer Enablement” is the same “Digital” as used in “Digital Prostate Exam.”

  28. crayonshinobi says:

    It’s a wonder these guys can spew forth this garbage with a straight face.

    I’d ask them how they sleep at night, but I already know the answer. “On a big pile of money, surrounded by many beautiful ladies.” (McBain)

    Now is as good a time to cancel your cable as ever folks!

    Me, I’m practicing Service Provider Enablement. I enable them not to receive money from me for their “services!”

  29. lihtox says:

    Well, in a sense he’s right: without DRM, HBO isn’t willing to provide certain services, and so the customer can’t get HBO-on-demand or whatever.

    However, the same argument might be made for allowing people to sell their organs or get large loans at 300% interest. There are people who would be willing to do both because they are motivated by short-term pressures, but allowing both has long-term consequences which will harm society. If HBO only used DRM for new products and did not restrict the ability of customers to do what they can do now, then that’s fine… but we all know that this will be abused.

  30. kirschey says:
  31. zpweeks says:

    Just fired off a consumer’s thoughts, and you might like to, as well:

  32. speed1001 says:

    Digital Consumer Enablement = More Gooder

  33. axiomatic says:

    Digital Consumer Enablement is equally about as stupid as HBO having boxing in HD if you are a HBO subscriber for about $10 a month, but then a $60 PPV boxing event in standard definition only. Whats worse? The HD cameras are there, PPV HD isn’t.

    Piss off HBO, your consumers are not stupid.

    Oh and your reason for not showing womens boxing is even more stupid. It’s the year 2007 not 1920 you chauvinists!

  34. bloodr says:

    As Phil Hendrie would say…Comedy GOLD!!!

  35. droppedD says:

    in related news, the United States Prison System has renamed all penitentiaries and prisons to Freedom Enhancement Centers, because it enables inmates to live their daily lives “in ways they haven’t before!”

    Come on. Yes, with DRM they’re going to allow consumers “to use content in ways they haven’t before.” — but the fact that we need your permission to use that content is the only reason we haven’t been able to do the stuff we want with it.
    If the executives were less scared and had released non-DRM versions of the content, we’d have been able to use the content in new, interesting, and original ways already.

    It’s like if Ford released all 2009 model cars with the steering column locked dead center and a built-in maximum speed of 25 MPH and called it “Consumer Driving Enablementizing” — because hey, before we released The Enabletized Car there was no 2009 model car available at all — therefore the steering lock and speed limit must be an “enabling feature!”