Thursday August 28, 2014

In Mavericks, iTunes plays only audio, gray screen, no video

I recently upgraded our Mac Mini to Mac OS X 10.9 (aka Mavericks). This Mac Mini is connected to our television screen; we use it primarily for movies and tv shows played via Amazon or iTunes.

Imagine my surprise when I tried to play a purchased tv series episode and saw this:

Screen Shot

I did some searching online. I was not the first person to have this experience.

A few people have figured out what the underlying issue. Apparently, "Video playback of protected content is disallowed if remote access is enabled."

Okaaay... I disagree with this in principle. Yes, that's "protected content", but I paid for the privilege of viewing it. However, the whole DRM thing is a big can of philosophical worms, and I'm not really trying to get into that at the moment.

What I am going to argue, vehemently, about, is the symptoms: a gray screen, no alert message, the need to do a web search, discovering that many people have also tripped over this issue and a small number have managed to figure out the "fix" by experimentation. I filed a bug report (#17852793).


To which Developer Tech Support responded, "Engineering has determined that this issue behaves as intended."

Applebug17852793 response


Just. No.

While I disagree with the underlying philosophy of refusing to play DRM video through a remote connection, that's not the bug I'm reporting.

The bug is that if I try to play purchased video while Remote Management is enabled (whether or not anyone is actually connected remotely), the result is:

  • no alert or error message
  • a gray screen
  • audio
  • maybe one or two frames of video depending how you move the mouse
  • the playback stops

A well-considered design would, instead:

  • Check for an actual remote connection, not just that Remote Management is enabled in System Preferences.
  • Determine if the remote connection is from an authorized computer.
  • If there is a remote connection running from an unauthorized computer, post an alert.
  • otherwise play the video, because both computers are authorized to do so.
No gray screen. No audio without video. No partial video.

I am certain that no one actually sat in a meeting and explicitly designed this "gray screen with audio and occasional flickers of video" response to the requirement "disable video playback over a remote connection". I cannot imagine the current behaviour is truly "as intended".

Unfortunately, I can't seem to convince Apple Developer Tech Support to send my bug report to someone who will actually read it.

In Mavericks, iTunes plays only audio, gray screen, no video ( in category Computerware , Show & Tell ) - posted at Thu, 28 Aug, 16:12 Pacific | «e»

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