Oculus quietly drops DRM from its VR systems

In May, Facebook division Oculus broke its longstanding promise not to use DRM to limit its customers' choices, deploying a system that prevented Oculus customers from porting the software they'd purchased to run on non-Oculus hardware.

Today, Oculus pushed a new firmware version for its headsets that eliminated this DRM, though it made no announcements about the move.

The change was discovered and announced by the head developer for Revive, who calls themself "LibreVR," who had been regularly updating their software to circumvent Oculus's DRM (an act that carries criminal and civil liability in most of the world, which may account for Revive's pseudonymous developer).

Facebook/Oculus told Ars Technica that they will not add the DRM back in the future.

The news comes only one week after Oculus executives spoke to Ars in vehement defense of its hardware-locked DRM strategy. "[A personal hack] is a far cry difference from an institutional tool made and distributed to a mass number of people to [support other headsets], strip out DRM, strip out platform features and the like," Oculus' Jason Rubin told Ars at this year's E3 conference. "For an individual to do that for themselves, that would be all right. Mass distribution is an entirely different situation." Still, fans decried Oculus' choice to block paying customers from testing Oculus software on other hardware, and they repeatedly pointed to Oculus founder Palmer Luckey's frank statements on the issue months before the hardware launched. In particular, Luckey told Ars in March that "our goal is not to lock every piece of software to [the Oculus Rift headset]."

Since its creation, Revive has now become a more elegant patch system, complete with a SteamVR interface that Oculus game owners can use to pick out and load their Oculus games within the HTC Vive's "chaperone" system. So long as users are running official Oculus software and its always-on runtimes, Revive patch users can expect to see their whole Oculus gaming collection selectable with the HTC Vive's handheld wands. The only thing that remains to be seen is how Oculus reads the motion-tracked data from its upcoming handheld controller system, the Oculus Touch, and whether Revive will be able to do the same thing for the HTC Vive's wands once Touch-compatible games launch later this year.

Oculus reverses course, dumps its VR headset-checking DRM
[Sam Machkovech/Ars Technica]

(Images: Roman Guro and Oculus Rift, Sergey Galyonkin, CC-BY-SA/Clockwork Orange)