Multimedia sharing off limits on Western Digital NAS drive

Piracy concerns lead Western Digital to disallow sharing of audio and video files on its 1TB WD My Book World Edition network-attached storage drive

Concerned about piracy of multimedia files, Western Digital has disallowed the sharing of multimedia files on its 1TB network-attached storage drive, the WD My Book World Edition.

Due to "unverifiable media license authentication," the remote desktop software embedded on the NAS device does not share audio and video files, including MP3, MPEG, AVI, and DivX files, according to WD's customer support site.

Access to multimedia files is allowed only by the primary user registered on WD Anywhere Access, the remote desktop client embedded on the NAS device, said Brian Miller, director of marketing at Western Digital.

Anywhere Access is based on the MioNet remote desktop client, which allows users to access, read, edit, and share files on remote desktops. The Anywhere Access client allows remote users access to Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and other files, Miller said. Files on the My Book World Edition NAS device can be accessed either through MioNet client software or through Web browsers.

However, it doesn't allow sharing of multimedia files.

The client was built to make file sharing easy, and the company had no intent to inconvenience customers, Miller said. Miller said multimedia file sharing might be added to the drive in later generations of the drive, but he wouldn't comment directly on future products.

The problem came to light in a blog post on the boingboing.net Web site. Author Cory Doctorow quoted a contributor named Gary who attacked Western Digital's move, calling it an extreme attempt to "cripple data devices in order to please Hollywood."

"Just wondering -- who needs a 1TB 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?" Gary said in the post.

A workaround is possible for sharing multimedia files, said a user nicknamed Sparrowhawk, who left a comment on the post. "Simple. Just name the file filename-mp3.txt."

"Rename all my thousands of media files due to ridiculous and bogus limitations? No thank you," responded Eain.

Western Digital's Miller declined to comment on the possible workaround.

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