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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

DVD Copy Protection: Media-Player-Network

There are now an abundance of schemes in the works that are designed to protect the movie industry from illegal content duplication. Although the idea behind this stuff is to make most of it "transparent" to the average user, the reality is that the devices you may buy in the future will have embedded copy protection code in there.

Some of you may remember DIVX , a system that Circuit City expended mega millions on, that played DVD content on Special DIVX DVD players using Special DIVX DVDs. The pitch was that the DIVX DVD would retail for 4 bucks making it seem very affordable at the outset.., and then when you put it into your DIVX player, it would charge your credit card another 2 or 3 bucks to play it... by using a built in Phone modem to dial out for authorization. This was a long time ago, back when dialup internet was all there was in most places. The reason i mention the DIVX fiasco, is that the same scenario is playing out right now. This Phone-home for an ok to play - pay per view proprietary DVD system was a stunning failure, most people were smart enough to see though the rhetoric and realize it was a rights management system where when they bought something, they would have to pay to keep seeing it. Early adopters had trouble with it, and your basic Joe-sixpack stayed away from it in droves. But that was then and this is now, it could be that more sensible user-transparent systems will prevail...

Now we have newer more integrated systems designed to protect hollywood, and this time its part of the show that FCC and the media giants are using to push digital content with mandatory this and that for entertainment delivery. With High Definition and new specs to write, they have a small window of opportunity to get it right.

The Schemes:
Basically HDCP and AACS seem to be rising to the top as the encryption and access management of choice. For now about all you need to really know is that your HD monitor/TV probably should have HDCP listed in its features, since some players and content will not display without that. Basically HCDP source Key Processing has to happen in order to see the HDCP encrypted content and that happens right in the final device, the TV or monitor itself.
My opinion: Its ok - should be no problem for everyone, proper systems will function properly.

However the system for copy protection of the media itself.. that is another story.

AACS: The DVD Media and the Device
The BD-DVD ( blu-ray) may have AACS, they just did a press release on it, and since BD and BD+ are backed formats anyhow, my guess is that very few if any BD players will be available without AAC code in them.. e.g. both the player and the BD-DVD you buy will have corresponding data-management that determines if it is legal to play it. The scary thing about AACS is that it also has a network connection protocol to phone-home and check the encryption key function, such that mess that DIVX tried to do. It can even change the legality of a key that has been hacked or compromized. For me, this raises all kinds of worry. Privacy, hassle and possible problems with authentication failures. Blu-ray has its own inherent encrypt track anyhow, so AACS may not be mandatory for all Blu-ray BD+ home burners. There is no way to know for sure at this time.

HD-DVD already has AACS
And they are finding out what works right now. Basicaly this one is copy protection copy control. Since Microsoft DRM ( digitalk: Rights Management) allows for the network WMV-HD and HD-DVD, it would seem that we may well see this DVD play out sooner in the HD market, and then we will know more. My thinking is that the home "media center" world may end up with the ability to handle any formats including the newer Mpeg4 stuff, so my eye is on what machines come available that will Burn a high Def DVD and let you play it as you would any raw data, like photos.

2 Comments:

Blogger jon said...

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Thanks

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