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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As reported in tomshardware.com


Hollywood (CA) - In an announcement last night, the Blu-ray Disc Association, led by Sony, representing one of two competing high-definition DVD formats, stated it will simultaneously embrace digital watermarking, programmable cryptography, and a self-destruct code for Blu-ray disc players.


The BDA statement is unprecedented not only because its solution to the nagging problem of digital rights management is to embrace every option on the table, but also because Blu-ray appears to have developed its own approach--in some cases, proprietary--to each of these three technologies. Knowledge of this impending fact may have been what tipped movie studio 20th Century-Fox last week to throw its support behind Blu-ray, in a move that experts believe balanced the scales in Blu-ray's ongoing battle with competing format HD DVD--backed by a forum led by Toshiba--to become the next high-def industry standard.



The digital watermarking technique, which will be called ROM Mark, is described in the statement as "a unique and undetectable identifier in pre-recorded BD-ROM media such as movies, music and games." "BD-ROM" is the proposed writable version of the Blu-ray format. Little else is known about ROM Mark at this time, except that the statement describes it as being undetectable to consumers. This is noteworthy in itself, since a previously heralded watermark applied to first-generation DVDs was notoriously defeated by someone writing over it with a permanent marker.


One part of the announcement that had been anticipated by experts was Blu-ray's embrace of Advanced Access Content System (AACS), one version of which has also been adopted by the HD DVD Forum. This controversial technology would require that disc players maintain permanent connections to content providers via the Internet, making it possible for discs that fail a security check to trigger a notification process, enabling the provider to send the player a sort of "self-destruct code." This code would come in the form of a flash ROM "update" that would actually render the player useless, perhaps unless and until it is taken to a repair shop for reprogramming. The Blu-ray statement noted that certain elements of AACS have yet to be formally approved by the BDA.


The third part of the announcement that is perhaps most surprising, is Blu-ray's adoption of a third DRM technique that appears to embrace some of the ideals of one of the technologies that had been considered, without actually licensing its methodology or its existing tools. The BDA statement introduces what it calls "BD+," described as "a Blu-ray Disc specific programmable renewability enhancement that gives content providers an additional means to respond to organized attacks on the security system by allowing dynamic updates of compromised code."


BD+ appears to be Blu-ray's version of a concept previously under consideration called SPDC, which enabled the method for encrypting a disc's contents to be included on the disc, rather than on the EPROMs of the disc player. One of the perceived failures of first-generation DVD was that its encryption mechanism of choice, called Content Scramble System (CSS), was spectacularly defeated, with the result being that the industry was forced to permanently and irreversibly support a now-worthless encryption scheme. With SPDC, new encryption algorithms could be adopted as old ones are cracked, enabling successive generations of high-def DVD to be stronger than earlier ones.


Two months ago, the HD DVD Forum considered a coupling of AACS with SPDC. But a scientifically accurate though politically imbalanced white paper released by the creators of SPDC technology, Cryptography Research, Inc. (CRI), soundly rebuked alternative DRM technologies, and thus may have unintentionally played a role in SPDC's falling out of favor with the original supporters of CSS, some of whom were HD DVD Forum members. The Forum rejected "AACS+SPDC" for undisclosed reasons, leading many to speculate that Blu ray would respond by embracing SPDC.


However, as SPDC was originally discussed, there would only have been one encryption standard in use throughout the industry at any one time. According to yesterday evening's BDA statement, BD+ would follow SPDC's core principle, but instead allow each content provider to utilize whatever encryption standard it sees fit at the time. "With these enhancements," the statement reads, "content providers have a number of methods to choose from to combat hacks on Blu-ray players. Moreover, BD+ affects only players that have been attacked, as opposed to those that are vulnerable but haven't been attacked and therefore continue to operate properly."


This last sentence is important, because one key objection that experts raised to the pairing of AACS with SPDC was the possibility that, once the single SPDC encryption scheme was broken, AACS could trigger a signal to all players using that encryption scheme, rendering all discs that use this scheme unplayable, perhaps prior to a system upgrade. The BDA statement appears to distance itself from the CRI approach to SPDC, perhaps to calm consumer fears that entire libraries of perfectly legitimate content could be rendered useless due to someone else's illicit activities.


The CRI white paper, incidentally, distinguished SPDC by contrasting it with other DRM techniques such as watermarking. "Although some progress is being made at improving robustness and efficiency," the white paper states, "we are not optimistic that a practical and secure public watermarking scheme is possible." Such comparisons may have worked against SPDC's eventual adoption by Blu-ray in method as well as in principle.


On behalf of the HD DVD Forum this morning, Toshiba's advisor to the Forum, Mark Knox, released a brief statement: "Today's announcement by the BD Group should not confuse anyone," states Knox. "HD DVD's content protection system provides the highest level of advanced copy protection to meet content owner's needs and the rigors of consumer demand." Knox goes on to say that AACS--which now singularly forms the crux of HD DVD's DRM--is the most advanced such scheme yet devised, and that HD DVD's own membership continues to back that approach.


"We will continue to promote further penetration of the format," Knox added, "while simultaneously seeking ways to eventually realize a single format that delivers optimized benefits to all concerned industries and, most important, to consumers."


Tom's Hardware Guide will present an in-depth analysis of the Blu-ray/HD DVD format combat Thursday morning in its Business Reports section. There, we'll speak with industry experts, including one prominent media pioneer, in examining how the participants in this struggle may actually have always been planning for its eventual resolution, and what form the fruits of that resolution may take.
 

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It sounds like Sony has their "new standard" all figured out. I hope they choke on it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It just seems insane, imagine a glitch that sends the 'nuke' function out to every player on the net, and suddenly tens of thousands of players need to be returned to service centres (or if someone wrote a 'virus' that did that)


It seems if you don't have broadband available to you, you are screwed as far as new technology goes wether it be game consoles or HDTV or whatever, if you can't get broadband you are going to miss out on a lot of things coming down the line...
 

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I don't think the self destruct function would be legal here.


For instance region-free is perfectly legit - sort of the opposite situation though...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes it will be interesting to see what happens in various countries legality-wise.


I guess DVD drives in PCs have the 'lock you into one region' thing after X amount of region changes already, but having the thing actually die if you tried to break the protection or something similar is a pretty ballsy step to take.


I wonder how many people would *not* buy one because of it.

If people don't get motivated and write letters (not e-mails, real hardcopy letters with a real signature on it) en masse and protest, it will get thorugh on apathy alone.


However a sustained campaign, and making it easy for journalists to see the pitfalls and so forth could have an effect.


Who knows... I was expecting something pretty draconian, but this surprised me.
 

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Not to be a naysayer here, but let me ponder aloud:


Who exactly is Blu Ray aimed at anyways?


1) Non HD TV owners (OK, so there's fewer and fewer every day) won't be interested.


2) The average HD owner that has a
 

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Quote:
Am I really out of line here?
No.


This may sound out of line, but I believe this move on Sony's part has a lot to do with the new CEO. He's not Japanese. Sonys CEO


Aside from myself, Sony is Sony's worst enemy.
 

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4. You don't need a 1080p capable CRT pj to see a big difference. Even downscaled to 720p or 1080i the difference between decent HD and DVD is enormous.
 

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its a sad day for consumers... I think its criminal that companys can push a product out to market that will render a large group of (legacy) displays uncomputable due to the abuse of others. some people like me actually buy dvd's and will buy hd-dvd's in the future.. i currently have 600 dvd's and counting. i have worn out 4 dvd players sence they were in beta.. All 3 of my displays in my house are analog, 36 in sony xbr (bedroom), mits ws55711 and sony vph-g70qvr for my theater. having sony pretty much kill two of my sony displays due to the lack of compatibility really chapps my A**.. I've been a loyal consumer to sony for years and years and they are leaving their consumers high and dry to stop some piracy. if they want to stop piracy quit printing dvd's in CHINA. At least help us convert some of our high end displays to accept the format... I was looking into spending more money and picking up a sony g90 but at this point i have to hold off and see where this faciasim leads to.
 

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There is a big difference among DVD's too, very noticable on a CRT pj. Most DVD's have very poor transfers of film to digital. The DVD's where picture quality has been a priority are rare. Ordinary 35 mm film ( let alone 70mm ) is VERY much high definition, more than any new digital format.


The few HD movie clips I have seen do look stunning, but one needs a Mac to display them !


I do agree with Curt. No need to jump on the bandwagon, not until there are at least as many movie titles in one single HD format as there are current titles on ordinary DVD today. And with no f***ing requirement to have a broadband internet coonnection for every player, with the risk of the player made unusable by Big Brother....


Thomas
 

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I can honestly say I have NOT been following the HD-DVD format wars and related subjects, and after reading the first post, I am amazed at what is being planned. If this actually becomes a reality, I am sure someone will still come out with a way to crack/hack it; only time will tell.


I think it is ridiculous that if I want an HD-DVD player, I may have to live with a self descructing function, and I may have to be connected to their network at all times. As if purchasing THEIR player and THEIR dvd's isnt enough, now they want to monitor me. Whats next - security cameras in my bathroom?


As Curt eluded to, I think it will be AT LEAST 5 years before this becomes "commonplace" in homes... Maybe more. I know I will not be purchasing it until standard-def DVD's go the way of the laserdisk (you remember those right?)


--Eric
 

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This all sounds like it's going to be a pain to work with, just like DVDs were in the begining (unskipable ads anyone?) and divex was supposed to be.


divex failed because customers didn't want to be locked down quite that hard and it sounds like bluray is going to be much worse, so there is every chance that the market will reject this hairbrained idea.


... however, if something as opressive as this ever becomes the norm and there is noone that cracks the system then there is a very simple way to get around all of the restrictions and lock in: Get a high quality pirated copy.


I know that I will never buy a player that can selfdestruct (or one that forces me to use a particular menu system or disallows skipping through FBI warnings and commercials) I will however be happy to buy the movies if I can download a clean pirated version without all the subjugating nonsense.


... except, if the downloaded version of the movie sucks I'll probably skip the buying part, so they will actually get less money from me with encumbered disks than if they had just skipped all the crap.


... not to mention that ripping a movie that you can play on a regular player in your own home can never be secured (just grab the data as it enters the LCD panel or the CRT amps) so the pirated versions will only be a slightly lower quality than the original and with casual copying there will be much greater glory for the pirates who do manage to get good copies out.
 

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This is particularly absurd considering Holographic ROM memories (a year or two out) are as able to store 100 DVDs on a single disk. Add to that the fact that we'll be able to download movies of our choice in a few years... I'm not buying my DVD collection again!
 

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geez


Talk about killing your own darlings...


They never learn, do they.
 

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Does this remind anyone of "DIVX"?
 

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See for me, the thought of having all of the Hollywood titles on an HD disc immediately gives me a chubby but what the manufacterers want is to make some money selling devices. They can't if DVD players cost $35. Christ, I half expected to start seeing Best Buy giving away DVD players with movie box sets !


The only way to see more devices is to satisfy Studios. So the goal is to thumb their nose at the 9 million or so HD set owners who already have an HD set that won't work with the new format and look forward to new buyers and the fact that the old owners will cave eventually and be another wave.


They almost have too, since they can find no other solution to slumping sales. As $hitty as it is, this is what Sony must do to make money.


Art
 

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I suspect, given an hour with a protocol analyzer and an ethernet PIC Micro board, that any phone-home method can be defeated by a sufficiently talented cipher-punk (not me.)


At the very least, we can count on the paranoia of the US government to stifle _real_ encryption... Can you imagine? "Yeah, we'd like to make an ASIC in the tens of millions that can do 56bit triple DES, blowfish, or any other algorythm we see fit." I don't see it happening, and if this level of DRM ever makes it to the market it'll take YEARS to fight through american burocracy.
 

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Uhm, crypto restrictions in the US were done away with some time last millenium.


Don't assume that just because you can sniff the traffic that you can defeat whatever is going on, it's trivial for the player and BigBrother to authenticate each other and set up a secure encrypted link that not even the NSA can break into.


Unplugging the player would simply mean that you don't get to watch any movies, so that's out as well.


The only safe solution is to rip the rgb data out of a display and reencode the movie in a clean format, fortunatly there is an entire continent dedicated to this operation, so we don't need to worry.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Sonneborn
Christ, I half expected to start seeing Best Buy giving away DVD players with movie box sets !



Art
I'd love to be behind the customer service desk, as people line up to complain:" I got 1/2 way through disc 3, and this stupid DVD player broke..."


:)
 

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I really haven't been able to completely understand what annoyances or more seriously what problems all of the DRM considerations and protections are going to cause. I remember when I got my first TiVo in 2000 and read all of the complaints online regarding having the device connected by telephone line or internet connection. I just hooked it up, connected a phone line and it has never even caused me one second of inconvenience or concern. TiVo remains my all-time favorite and most useful audio/video equipment purchase. If Blu-ray players work this way and all of this is as invisible, I would just accept this as well. I may be missing something and all of this could be as horrible as many here seem to be saying but I can't see it yet. Blu-ray looks like an incredible format that should be embraced by the early adopters. No analog HD resolution is unfortunate but after 30 plus years of being an often early adopter of audio/video formats, I have seen my purchases not have a long useful life because of connection changes or advances in technology. That is the risk I take and I never look back and complain because it happened. The reason it happens is out of my control and is irrelevant. My quadraphonic open reel deck, SuperBeta VCRs, EDBeta VCR, Laserdisc players, SVHS VCRs, Hi-8 VCRs, PCM, DAT deck, W-VHS VCR, D-VHS VCRs, and other format purchases all looked pretty good when I made the purchase but not so good now. My Sony PVM-2530 monitor isn't worth having any longer. I could go on and on.


A lot of thought and planning has gone into these product introductions and it may be both formats will fail, I won't make a prediction. The technical specs and potential offered by Blu-ray means I hope it is a big success. I am not going to be an early adopter this time but sure would if I could afford it.


Chris
 
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