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Custom DVDs & Players For Academy Members

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the hubris-is-catchy dept.

Encryption 266

xyankee writes "In an effort to curtail the piracy and bootlegging of DVD screeners, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has endorsed a plan to distribute about 6,000 special DVD players to members that will play specially encrypted screener discs that would be earmarked for a specific academy voter and would play only on that person's machine. The Associated Press has the full story, while Laurence Roth, VP and co-founder of Cinea, Inc., the company behind the technology, says 'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'"

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266 comments

lol (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605057)

'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.

yeah, and niggers DONT smell like monkeys

propz to GNAA

Re:lol (1)

ehack (115197) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605277)

They'll be hacked, as GNAA points out; but as each disk is custom made there will probably be some individual watermarking buried in the film frames somewhere.

Next year we will first hear that the disks were hacked; then we will see a lawsuit against the poor bastard who lent his disk and player to someone else.

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you fail it douchebag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605070)

my name is JesuitX, and I'm a gay nigger.

it feels great to fp like i used to.

#gnaa at irc.gnaa.us

Are you gay?
Are you a nigger?
ARE YOU A GAY NIGGER?

If so, the GNAA might be...you know the story folks!

Re:you fail it douchebag (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605149)

STFU, cock sucker

Riiiiight.... (5, Funny)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605066)

Cause it's not like the original DVDs were encrypted against hacking either.

Re:Riiiiight.... (4, Informative)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605115)

Here's a list of the flaws in CSS:

1. DVDs have one key for the disc, which is encrypted about 400 different times. One of the basic rules of cryptography is that you NEVER encrypt the same thing with different keys.

2. The DVD players are publicly available, so it's not too hard to take out a ROM chip and analyze it.

3. The key size was only 40 bits.

Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption. It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what the quote said.

Re:Riiiiight.... (4, Insightful)

throwaway18 (521472) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605128)

One of the basic rules of cryptography is that you NEVER encrypt the same thing with different keys.

No it isn't. You are half remembering the rule for one time pads (not any time of encryption) that you should never use the a one time pad twice.

Re:Riiiiight.... (2, Interesting)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605141)

Sorry, you're right. What I was actually thinking of was never getting cryptanalysts get their hands on both the plaintext and ciphertext. IIRC, that was the main way the Enigma machine was cracked for example. Obviously, though, it's not very applicable to DVDs.

Re:Riiiiight.... (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605158)

And this only applies when you are relying for the algorithm to be the secret part. Something modern cryptotheory considers inadequate. (Well, duh. :))

Stephenson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605400)

IIRC, that was the main way the Enigma machine was cracked for example

Yes, we've all read Cryptonomicon too. Good book :)

Re:Riiiiight.... (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605214)

But which academy member would risk selling / giving away discs if it was encrypted to them? Which academy member would even give someone a tape recording of the disc when that too would very likely be watermarked? Even the latter on its own would be an effective deterrent.


I suggest that if the academy is prepared to swallow the expense of handing out the players (+ the bitching of members who have to play movies on it when their home cinema systems already has a player), they'll have a very workable security system.

Re:Riiiiight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605272)

Which academy member would even give someone a tape recording of the disc when that too would very likely be watermarked? Even the latter on its own would be an effective deterrent.

I guess we're going to have to go back to the old fashioned way and wait for the movie to go through the movie->video store release before we rip it from a rented copy. Oh well. MPAA still isn't getting my money since I just borrow the ripped copy from a friend and make another copy.

Re:Riiiiight.... (3, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605364)

I guess we're going to have to go back to the old fashioned way and wait for the movie to go through the movie->video store release before we rip it from a rented copy


While the RIAA would hardly like that either, the point in this case is to stop widespread distribution of a high quality print weeks or months before their official release date. Once a screener escapes into the wild (and many do) it takes a nanosecond to appear on hundreds of P2P networks. That's millions and millions of dollars in lost revenue (at least in theory).


This is what they want to stop. Personallized screeners with watermarking and dire threats would be an extremely effective way to do that.

Re:Riiiiight.... (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605398)

I may very well be talking out my ass here, but wouldn't 400 different keys mean that you could factor out any one of them, making it 400 times easier to crack?

Re:Riiiiight.... (2, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605209)

Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption. It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what the quote said.

It gets easier the more discs you have, though, since then you end up in the realm of differential cryptanalysis.

Also, they seem to be most worried about the academy members themselves - and they still get to see the movies (plaintext!). Even if they're mostly worried about academy member's evil nieces that they might have obliviously handed DVDs to in the past, what's to say members won't lend DVDs+the special player to their friends and family now?

3 acedemy members acting in cahoots can also defeat watermarking efforts - simply compare the three streams and throw away any artifacts that appear in only 1 stream. This would probably be even easier to do when you (have to) depend on analogue outputs. It only makes the challenge greater.

But perhaps they're not worried about academy members, all those DVD screeners that get onto the web are all down to dumpster-diving fiends who get access to one disk, no player.

Re:Riiiiight.... (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605395)

Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption.

It would probably be easier to use a public key encryption algorithm. Player contains the private key, disk creation is done with the public key. The difficult bit is the distribution, since making sure 6,000 pieces of physical media wind up where they should go is rather more difficult than using PGP/GPG for email.

It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what the quote said.

When it comes to security what is important is the whole system. With 6,000 people involved it's a little unlikely that all of them are completly honest or un-bribable/blackmailable.

PGP style (2, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605121)

They're using private, public key encryption. While this isn't impossible to crack can you imagine how long it will take to decode the data on a DVD? The film will be available to buy by the time you manage to crack it.

Re:PGP style (2, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605162)

True. But keep in mind you don't need to crack the encryption, just reverse engineer the player.

lol (2, Insightful)

Toraz Chryx (467835) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605071)

"the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked."

Setting themselves up for a MONSTROUS fall there...

Re:lol (1, Interesting)

afay (301708) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605089)

Well, actually, if each disc is only meant to play on one specific player that they distribute, it would be incredibly easy to make it "unhackable". Just use a shared key encryption scheme. The only way it could be "hacked" is if you found a way to extract the shared key from the hardware dvd player or the shared key for a specific player was leaked mpaa. That could happen, but it's not to likely. And if you managed to come by one of these disc, it would really be impossible to hack (at least without incredible amounts of time or computing power).

Re:lol (3, Insightful)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605174)

The only way it could be "hacked" is if you found a way to extract the shared key from the hardware dvd player or the shared key for a specific player was leaked mpaa. That could happen, but it's not to likely.
Oh, sure. Never ever did any vital information leave a company which built their business model on a very algorithm, or from the company which created the security model for them.

You might not be aware of this, but one reason for certain pay TV stations being hacked as easily as it was (and I'm not talking about analog "encryption") was that sufficient information leaked.

And as stated elsewhere: There's still the analog output. Sure, they might put have in some watermarking. They most likely did. But I frankly doubt that there is something like *robust* watermarking for audio and video without significantly impair the signal quality, thus causing noticeable artefacts. (If there is, I'd love to see a pointer to scientifical papers, cause I'm quite interested in such methods myself.)

Re:lol (3, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605283)

It CAN contain noticeable artifacts. In fact, lots of movies these days have noticeable artifacts. You might occasionally see something in the middle part of the screen that looks like several little burns or dark spots. Those are watermarks used to keep track of what theater a film is being shown in. If it's good enough for the public, it's good enough for the Academy, who they aren't even trying to make money off of. Remember, we're talking specially coded DVDs here. They could just insert the Academy member's name at the bottom of each frame on the DVD as a "watermark" so they would be able to tell who leaked it.

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605092)

It is usually easier to control a small number of things, in this case 6000 discs and 6000 players. For example, if each player only had one key, and each DVD one key, and they were properly secured (wasn't it an unsecure key in a Xing DVD application that led to the original hacking?) then it would be pretty difficult to get around the protection.

If they mess up on security for 6000 discs and players for people with low technical knowledge ... then they have no hope in the world.

Re:lol (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605100)

why hack when they can just get it analogically off the disc in extremely high quality as well?

somebody just invented a good way to milk money off from mpaa..
.

Re:lol (2, Insightful)

BitchAss (146906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605274)

Yup - someone's making a ton of money and it's not the mpaa.

Cinea will invest several million dollars to make and distribute the DVD players to academy members and possibly to movie critics and other awards groups.

So, wait. The mpaa has millions to spend on this new way to prevent piracy? I thought they were losing money out the ass! (they'll have to reimburse Cinea somehow - so the mpaa is really paying the millions for the DVD players and the encryption)

Sounds like they need to read this [craphound.com].

Not really... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605135)

CSS was a pathetic algorithm written by incompetent cryptographers (after the one compromised key was found, the entire cryptosystem collapsed). Not to mention being hamstrung by 40 bits max.

I'm sure that this time around they use a proper algorithm like AES at 128 bit+. Good luck breaking that with the discs by themselves. Unless you have access to one of the 6000 players as well, it's not going to happen.

With that said, they DO have access to the players, and even if not, they can compare several watermarked copies to find the difference (watermark). It's not over yet...

Kjella

Re:Not really... (2, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605187)

How secure is AES 128+ bits anyway? MPEG streams have a pretty regular pattern that offers a lot hints to cryptanalysts. I wouldn't bet on the security of a system that encrypts 2-8 GB of data with such a regular pattern!

Re:lol (2, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605177)

Actually, all a pirate would need is a fastscan wide screen TV and a video camera to make a distributable copy.

They could sit at the end of the room and just rip it straight to DVD-R from the camera.

For the authenticity of a cinema rip however, it would be necessary to have people walk past the TV eating popcorn every few minutes, slurping sprite and coughing regularly through the soundtrack.

It would be a trivial task to add out of focus Japanese subtitles later using a standard mpeg editor.

Re:lol (2, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605340)

Can someone explain why you couldn't just record the output from the special DVD player? You would still have to worry about the watermarking, but that's not so hard, if oyu can get two or more disks.

how long (1, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605072)

oh, this is mandatory:
how long till the "discs that cannot be hacked themselves" will be hacked?

two hours, or two weeks? (remember de-CSS code printed on t-shirts?)

Re:how long (3, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605228)

I think that goes along the lines of, if the software on the machine can decode it, someone else's software can do it too. :)

They story says that they'd have on-screen indications of who's tape it was too. Probably something along the lines of a text across the screen somewhere saying "Screener serial# 123456".

Making a new disk isn't impossible. I've been toying with my DirecTiVo. It has wonderful outputs to go to my receiver, but not really good outputs for recording. I bought a DVD recorder, and got creative with the wiring. Now I get S-Video in, but I'm still lacking on the audio. The DirecTiVo has the choices of digital fiber optic, or L&R RCA jacks, and the DVD recorder doesn't have a digital fiber input (I couldn't find any with that). It still makes very nice DVD's.

Once I make the DVD, it's not a really hard task to take the resulting disk and edit as needed, such as blocking over whatever is indicating who's disk it is. That may be an unreasonable task, if the text is in the middle of the screen.

I can't imagine too many Academy Awards judges wanting to go through all the bother to release a bootlegged video though. I think their trouble comes when they loan it to friends, who make copies for friends, who make copies for friends (etc, etc).

It still doesn't remove the possibility of a slightly corrupt theater manager setting up a digital video camera in the booth beside the projector and hooking into their sound board, and getting an almost perfect copy of a movie though. They could still get a movie on the Internet the night before it's released to theaters.

Security (3, Insightful)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605074)

I think this has quite a good chance of being secure. With such a small number of players that aren't publicly available, and with no need for backward compatibility, they can throw in more DRM than you can shake a stick at. Heck, it even appears to record on the disc each time you play it.

Re:Security (2, Insightful)

Sam3.14 (792129) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605102)

They will definitely be more secure than normal ones, but I'm sure people will manage to copy them. Why not just plug the output cables of the DVD player into a recording device and let it run.

Re:Security (3, Interesting)

paul.schulz (75696) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605139)

This is an example where an open source solution
may actually benefit everyone..

- DVD player running uClinux, enabled with
- GPG private/public keys, and a
- Web of Trust of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

This would enable encryped DVDs to be distributed
securely. What happens after they are decrypted
and played .. well, thats up to how much they
trust the people with the screener DVD's.

Re:Security (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605160)

Yeah. Throw all that stuff on the disc. And while they are at it, maybe they can throw on a movie too.

Then again, maybe if they sent out blank disc, they would get better reviews. "Nothing is better than Gigli!"

Re:Security (4, Insightful)

droleary (47999) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605317)

I think this has quite a good chance of being secure.

Anybody that starts with that assumption, or the stated and equally unlikely "cannot be hacked" has already lost whatever battle they imagined they were fighting. There are probably more holes in making the discs than there are in distributing them. How many hands does a film pass through before it even gets to be a master copy waiting to be encrypted?

Alirght (5, Funny)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605075)

Laurence Roth, VP and co-founder of Cinea, Inc., the company behind the technology, says 'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'

Someone give that Johanson kid a call.

Re:Alirght (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605143)

Johanson himself admitted that he didn't hack that DVD thingy, he just wrote the program and made it available. Actual haking was made by some dude in Germany.

Re:Alirght (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605378)

Why is the slashdot such a fan forum for DVD-John is beyond me. That guy isn't even a good jwarez cracker. Yes, you read that right, he didn't use Linux when he ran that dvd player software under softice. He is part of a group of mediocre warez kiddos. He's just an idiot who uses a pirated copy of Windows XP and tried to pester Apple's fair copy prevention system.

But don't worry, his amateur debugger skills won't work this time. Each DVD is encrypted with the public key of a given DVD player, you can't bruteforce it. If a DVD player is ever compromised, no new DVD disks will be issued for it. They got it right this time.

Alfred

Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605077)

If it has a video-out port, it can be used to copy the disk. Unless they plan on shipping integrated DVD players with a built-in screen it's not going to work.

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Informative)

Steve Cox (207680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605118)

If it has a video out, it will have Macrovision enabled to stop you recording a decent copy.

Has everyone forgotten that you still have this kind of copy protection?

Steve.

(actually, two seconds of googling showed up this gem [quicknet.com.au].

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605133)

if it can be watched in decent quality it can be copied.. something the mpaa execs don't want to believe it seems, they don't want to believe it so hard that they even want to believe that these schemes work so they pump out money on them, money that's just adding to the 'piracy' problems lost money..

(hell, I would be VERY surprised if piracy hurt major mpaa members more than what the license costs for macrovisions shit protections have cost them over the years)

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Funny)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605140)

If it has a video out, it will have Macrovision enabled to stop you recording a decent copy.

Ahhhhh! Curse You Macrovision!!! Your almighty copy protection cannot be stripped out by anyone! Arrrrrgggghhhh!!

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605148)

Has everyone forgotten that you still have this kind of copy protection?

Has everyone forgotten that all you need to get around it is a TV monitor with video out as well?

KFG

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Interesting)

jb_02_98 (636753) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605150)

Once I had a video cd that I had made, and when I tried to copy it to a tape using my DVD player, I had all sorts of problems. I looked around for a solution and found that by hooking up a mixer (audio, 2 RCA connections) I was able to "trick" the system into looking correct. So the Macrovision, at least for me, wasn't that big of an issue.

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (4, Interesting)

Petronius (515525) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605169)

here's all it'll take for someone to defeat this:

image:
- flat screen display
- tripod
- good camcorder

sound:
- grab stream from the entertainment center

put them back together... voila.

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (1)

Dh2000 (71834) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605119)

Even then, you can just set a camcorder in front of the little screen.

Hey! That's an excellent idea that could be used on the big screen.. I think I'll go to the theater tonight and record a crappy film.

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (1)

onion2k (203094) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605122)

They state that each disc will encrypted so that it will only play on one particular academy members player. So it will be obvious who ripped the copy... how many academy members will be willing to risk being found out?

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (1)

condensate (739026) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605127)

It will only be possible to identify the member if the rip has any sign of it left.

Re:Probably gonna be redundant.. but.. (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605318)

Even with an intergrated screen chances are the video singal will be something you can use at some point

One word... (4, Insightful)

randomErr (172078) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605078)

Analog. Plug a VCR into the analog out and a $30 'video stabelizer' and you got a copy.

Famous last words... (5, Funny)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605079)

..the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked..

I hope that quote gets used a little later on down the line, when some 14 year old writes a few lines of code that circumvents yet another uncrackable encryption / protection system...

ha. (5, Funny)

Heem (448667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605081)

"'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'"

uh huh.

In related news, "That gun isn't loaded" , "The dog doesnt bite" and "The Titanic is unsinkable"

Took em long enough... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605085)

You figure they would have done this straight out, instead of just shotgunning the discs out to everybody. Everybody wins - the voters get to watch the discs whenever they want, without having to deal with some crazy 24-hour mission impossible self-destructing DVD, the Academy is reasonably sure that some random relative won't be copying discs to put online, and they managed to do it without having to buy off any new politicians to pass another law restricting everybody's rights.

Yes, it isn't foolproof, but at least they're trying a reasonable solution, instead of poking everybody's eyes out with lawyers.

Tipping Hollywood the black spot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605247)

The full text of this article from The Economist [economist.com] follows. The original content is subscriber-only; it is reproduced here in the hope and expectation that you will find it useful.

----

Piracy and the movie business

Tipping Hollywood the black spot

Aug 28th 2003
From The Economist print edition

[Image] [economist.com]

The movie business is not doing enough to ward off the threat of digital piracy

AS HOLLYWOOD bosses know all too well, digital piracy could plunder their industry. The music business, where piracy has long been active, has lost a quarter of its sales already. Watching its plight, the movie moguls say, has taught them a lesson: listen to what the customer wants and keep the business model flexible. But investors are not convinced that Hollywood's leaders are on top of the piracy threat. Like Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind", says Gordon Crawford, an investor at Capital Research and Management in Los Angeles, many have decided to do something about it tomorrow.

It is true that movies are not yet as vulnerable as music. Hollywood starts from a better position. Its products are priced more reasonably than CDs. People want to watch all of a film, so there is no incentive to download a single track. It can take days to download a movie from the internet, unlike a song, which takes minutes.

But rampant DVD piracy may be coming soon, both in the form of traditional counterfeiting and downloading from the internet. Hard pirated copies are widespread, and will proliferate further with the spread of DVD recorders and burners. Already as many as 600,000 movie files are shared each day on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as Morpheus and Grokster, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). That number is likely to soar as more households get broadband internet and compression technology cuts download time.

Movie industry bosses say that they are doing plenty to combat the threat. As well as helping local police with raids on counterfeiters, they are devising "digital rights management" (DRM) techniques, such as deleting content after the user has "consumed" it. They are also offering movies cheaply online and seeking new laws. This week they won a battle against pirates when California's Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment right to free speech cannot be used as a defence by someone publishing trade secrets on the internet--in this case, software to break DVD copy protection.

American Pie-in-the-sky

Next will come an Orwellian project to "re-educate" the young. With Junior Achievement, a volunteer teaching organisation, the MPAA has developed a curriculum for use in 36,000 American classrooms which teaches that swapping content is wrong. Older file sharers will be hard to persuade, however, and hackers can usually get around any copy protection the industry devises. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 65% of people who share music and video files online say they do not care if material is copyrighted. Last month, the MPAA tried an emotional approach, with a series of adverts in which a set painter, a stuntman, a make-up artist, a grip and an animator explain how piracy hurts them, not just the big bosses. The campaign is unlikely to have much effect, industry-watchers say, as everyone knows how many millions the latest blockbuster grossed and how much the star got.

To frighten people, the big music firms are going after individuals in court. Movie firms reckon that this will help them too, though for now they are leaning on universities to stop their students file-sharing. One studio suggests that parents could be presented with a bill for their child's downloading activities at college, and degrees could be withheld until someone pays. Universities may stand by their students, however. For the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to withhold degrees, says a spokesman, the student would have to be a "serious recidivist". This month a federal judge ruled that MIT, along with Boston College, need not obey subpoenas from the music industry seeking the names of students it suspects of being heavy file sharers, if only because they were filed from the wrong jurisdiction. Legal attacks may scare people, but risk alienating customers and making them try harder to rip off the industry, which cannot, even in America, sue everyone.

Although Hollywood executives say they want to listen to customers, most of their efforts have been to stop and punish downloaders, not to make their products more attractive--with one exception. Five studios have launched Movielink, an online site charging $3-5 to download a movie. But the service is still "clunky", admits a studio spokesperson. It cannot beat a good video store either for range of titles or for having the latest releases. Customers do not end up owning the film.

Assuming it is not resigned to milking all it can from its customers while awaiting inevitable demise at the hands of the pirates, the movie industry should rethink its business model. Movielink might be improved. Prices might be cut to reduce the appeal of piracy. Hollywood should lower the price of DVDs from today's $15-20 to $7-10, says Tom Wolzien, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, and go for volume. The studios have packed their DVDs full of extra content--director's cuts, and so on--supposedly offering more value. Why not sell a no-frills, cheaper version? asks James Roberts, a consultant at Mercer.

Studios might also change how they release movies. Opening a blockbuster in America but not in Britain, for instance, increases demand for pirate copies, as does holding back a movie from release on DVD and video. The studios need to shorten their release windows, says Michael Wolf, director of McKinsey's global media and entertainment practice. They have done this a bit already, he says--with simultaneous global "day-and-date" releases of, say, X-Men 2--but not enough.

In the 1980s, software companies used to fight online pirates with DRM technology. But they found that copy protection annoyed users, and got rid of it. The makers of Lotus 1-2-3, a spreadsheet program, abandoned it after finding that they had merely created a new market for software that could defeat copy protections. Now the music industry is realising that often some of the downloaders it labels as thieves are actually trying out music before they buy it, and that controlled, legal file-sharing could be a marketing tool. Viral marketing of that kind, says John Rose, head of the anti-piracy effort at EMI, a music company, could be powerful. Hollywood should take note.

The outlook would be much less grim if the entertainment business could do a deal with the firms that make electronic gadgets. For copy protection to work, hardware needs to spot it. So far, says an investor, Hollywood has not had the top-level discussions that it needs with consumer electronics and PC manufacturers. Part of the reason, he says, is that piracy is not being tackled by the bosses of media companies. The task gets delegated. But even if Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom, were sitting down with Sony's chief, Nobuyuki Idei, the discussion might not go far. The consumer-electronics industry has little to gain by making products that seriously hinder piracy, as these would be unattractive to customers and hurt sales.

If the movie industry does not work out its position quickly, says Mr Wolzien, it could go the same way as music. This might even mean that actors would be paid a lot less. Some are well aware of this. Several movie stars, says a studio executive, even offered to appear for nothing (nothing!) in the MPAA's anti-piracy adverts, but were turned down. This time, understandably, the industry pointed the cameras at its humbler members.

::: the economist troll

is this actually going to help? (4, Interesting)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605088)

Why go to such lengths; didn't they catch someone last year using only simple watermarking? Is there any conclusive evidence that the academy members are responsible for enough piracy to make this worthwhile?

Of course, they could just say they were doing this, and then send everyone an el-cheapo DVD player with a special decal on the front. That might be enough to psych out someone.

Re:is this actually going to help? (1)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605217)

Catching someone isn't as good as preventing from doing it in the first place, of course. It takes time and money to investigate and trace a watermark back to a person, no matter how easy the process.

Re:is this actually going to help? (2, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605265)

Catching someone isn't as good as preventing from doing it in the first place, of course. True, but convincing them they're going to get caught is an excellent way to prevent them from doing it in the first place.

Re:is this actually going to help? (2, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605386)

It takes time and money to investigate and trace a watermark back to a person, no matter how easy the process.
Huh? I don't know about you, but I define easy as quick and cheap.

Re:is this actually going to help? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605334)

It would be trivial to create more efficient watermarking schemes. From what I have read, watermarking has been done on a rather amateurish way. They should get experts in information theory to devise better encoding. However, the true problem may not be protecting a limited edition of 6000 DVD's, the problem is how to control a commercial release of millions of DVD's. In this regard, those special DVD's won't help either. Perhaps nothing short of a new business model for the entertainment industry will do.

right (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605097)

As always:
if I can read it I can duplicate it somehow...give me two weeks with one of those.

correct me if I'm wrong (4, Interesting)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605104)

but, wasn't decss possible only because one software player left its key out in the open? Seems to me you'd need to get hold of one of those special players if you were going to crack their partner discs.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (1)

bert.cl (787057) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605142)

Well if I'm correct then you don't need a key anymore now to decss, so I don't think leaving that key in the open was really necesarry, it just gave the circumventionprocess a (little) boost.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (3, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605205)

but, wasn't decss possible only because one software player left its key out in the open? Seems to me you'd need to get hold of one of those special players if you were going to crack their partner discs.

That was how decss was cracked, but it wasn't possible only because of that. There are other methods. This was simply a very convenient one to take. It would have been cracked eventually anyway.

6000 members of the Academy... (5, Interesting)

jedrek (79264) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605108)

Do you belive you can take 6000 people of any group and find one that isn't just flat out dirty and corrupt, or at the very least, easily corruptable? Or that many Academy members won't want to hook up a special DVD player each time they watch a movie? Remember, the studios want as many Academy members as they can to watch each movie, because only that gives them a shot of getting awarded. Every 'problem' a given member has with seeing a movie will reduce its chances come Oscar night.

These are all bandaids on a huge wound.

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605191)

Yes, I think they want to hook up a special player if it becomes the standard routine for DVD screeners. At least I would if I were to review those movies. It's not like no one would pay me for it.

Every 'problem' a given member has with seeing a movie will reduce its chances come Oscar night.

You're assuming that only a select few will be encrypted like this -- I was immediately thinking all of the screeners distributed would. Then no special movie would suffer from any disadvantage.

Is it such a big deal if you have free space in your computer for a secondary player, or if that player is an external USB drive?

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (1)

jedrek (79264) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605285)

Members of the Academy aren't geeks, they're not technical people, they're movie people. Most probably have home movie systems built by pros, all they do is put the movie in. Hell, they probably get brightness/contrast/etc set up by experts too.

The thing is, when you're trying to get your critically acclaimed lower-budget movie into the oscars, do you go with the encrypted screeners? No, you release an unencrypted screener, and everybody sees it. Boom, you've got an underdog success... and we're back to everybody releasing.

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (1)

Belgand (14099) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605380)

Going off topic a bit, but unless you yourself are an ISF certified expert you really should have your brightness/contrast/etc. and indeed your entire system calibrated by an expert. This can be an expensive process lasting many hours, but if you've got the money for it and a display worth spending that kind of money on calibrating it really is the correct thing to do.

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605298)

Of course you can - because most of them are decept people who only get paid ONCE for a movie - its just a tiny group who keep getting paid over and over and over for a job done once. They are rich. The others, not so much.

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605391)

most of them are decept people who only get paid ONCE for a movie - its just a tiny group who keep getting paid over and over and over for a job done once. They are rich. The others, not so much.

And how many among those 6000, who are has-beens with an expensive coke habit and a penchant for high-priced hookers, will have a problem with letting somebody hack their copy and dvd player?

Kinda like software and copy protection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605306)

This is precisely why 99.9% of commercial software is so easily cracked.

There are methods that can make software piracy just about impossible but they'll be disliked by customers because it would involve communication with a secure server.

Re:6000 members of the Academy... (0, Offtopic)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605379)

Or that many Academy members won't want to hook up a special DVD player each time they watch a movie?


If they are like me, they may want to carry that DVD around. They may want to watch in in the office, at home, in a notebook, in a weekend place, in a boat, you name it. No matter how "transparent" you want to make it, DRM is always a bother.


Right now, I have a good example of this. I got a new 200Gb disk for my desktop machine, so I decided to retire the old 6Gb were I had Windows98, and move W98 to the old 15Gb disk which had Linux. Now, I have the original Windows98 CD right here. But where is the fscking certificate of authenticity with the product key? Fortunately, that key isn't so secure at all. I found the manual for my old Sony Vaio notebook, and the installation program accepted that key. That's DRM for you, a problem for users and no solution for the companies.

On Hacking (5, Interesting)

condensate (739026) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605109)

All the previous posts have been about hacking or not hacking a DVD. Come on, we know that!!! Nothing is ever secure from hacking, so why the fuss about it.

I thin this is the beginning of a new stratagem: In principle one could sell DVD players with individual signatures that can somehow burn a tag on an individual DVD, which makes it impossible to be read and played by any other player. Now THAT's DRM for you.

Re:On Hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605132)

In principle one could sell DVD players with individual signatures that can somehow burn a tag on an individual DVD, which makes it impossible to be read and played by any other player.

You mean, like the unhackable iTunes?

Won't stop a thing! (3, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605134)

If the device is capable of outputting a standard video sognal for display on a monitor, encrypting the disc is almost pointless. The correlation between video quality and bootlegging worthiness is small. People in third world countries routinely rent movies filmed with handheld cameras- audience noise, mysterious shadows and crappy acoustics, etc.

Re:Won't stop a thing! (3, Informative)

vidnet (580068) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605194)

People in third world countries..

I hope you mean third world from the sun, otherwise I think you've missed the main target group for western movies.

Ka-ching (2, Interesting)

Grrr (16449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605168)

Cinea will invest several million dollars to make and distribute the DVD players to academy members and possibly to movie critics and other awards groups.

Your movie-ticket dollars at work.

Just give 'em a private streaming video website...

<grrr>

A solution in 1 second (4, Insightful)

doktorstop (725614) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605179)

DRM... MacroVision... special players & MAYBE one day special TVs... totally useless as long as the ultimate goal is to watch the movie... with unprotected human eyes

just take a digital camera, point it at the TV screen... et voila! Sure, won't be DVD quality, but, in home conditions, the quality will beat telesync =)

oh yea right like this will work.. (1)

spacerodent (790183) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605192)

Because if we know anything its that all dvd encryption is UNBREAKABLE and will protect the data forever and ever.

Cheaper solution (2, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605197)

Dig up 6000 old DIVX (the dead Circuit City DIVX) players, and make discs for them.

I don't really see why they need to go to the trouble of making each disc specific to one player, because that would just increase the cost of making a run of discs. There really shouldn't be a problem with playing a disc on another member's player. Adding a unique watermark to each player though, that shouldn't be much of a problem. But watch them screw things up so that the player firmware can be copied to a budget player.

DIVX does make sense (5, Insightful)

Fubar411 (562908) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605240)

1) No one has ever successfully cracked the scheme. 2) The players could easily be manufactured again 3) The dial-up "feature" can be used to verify the academy award members are the ones watching the movie. I hated DIVX when it came out, but I can understand the studios wanting to protect their content, at least until the movie is out of the theatres. I can wait for the DVD like a good consumer, no need to pay bootleggers for someone elses work. Unless it is the original Star Wars DVD when Han shoots first.

The Big Studios should love it.... (4, Insightful)

innot (582843) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605232)

The studios would be expected to pay for a machine to encode its discs and a licensing fee to use Cinea's anti-piracy technology.

"So you are a small indie studio with that incredible good movie (just picked up all prizes in the european festivals).
Sorry, if you can't pay a few megabucks for the license & machines and some more kilobucks for making a few thousand individual watermarked DVDs, then the academy award is not for you.

We hope for your understanding, but we have to protect the interests of our good clients from the MPAA who are in in for business and have no problem of paying these small academy consideration fees. Thank you!

Best Regards,
Mr. Big Boss of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Re:The Big Studios should love it.... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605314)

yup, the real reason for this change is to raise the barrier for entry into the movie biz, the advent of quality digital video and highspeed internet scares the MPAA shitless.

Re:The Big Studios should love it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605377)

Sorry but that's horseshit.

There's, othing to stop the smaller studios sending out a normal DVD. Christ, maybe they just want to protect their shit. I see no problem with this. So enough of the WHAT ABOUT THE LITTLE GUY, it's an answer looking for a question.

Re:The Big Studios should love it.... (1)

Meowing (241289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605394)

Sorry, if you can't pay a few megabucks for the license & machines and some more kilobucks for making a few thousand individual watermarked DVDs, then the academy award is not for you.
It's not all that bad, the cost is $25,000 per studio.

Cannot be hacked?!?!?! (2, Interesting)

sllim (95682) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605251)

'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'

You gotta be kidding. If I were some sort of technology bigwig and I wanted to buy a product and someone said those words to me I would do an about face and try real hard to not let the door hit my ass on the way out.

I would be much more impressed with the figures of what it would take to hack the discs. Cause in my opinion - encryption is made to be broken.

Now if he is saying that it cannot legally be hacked. Well that is probably true....

Secure yet waste of money (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605266)

First, everyone is saying this is useless because the movie can still be copied. That is not the point. People, think about what the academy is trying to prevent. They are trying to prevent the DVD from walking out of of someones house and appearing on the street where just anyone can play the DVD. This sytem effectively crushes the market for Academy DVD.

My understanding is that the DVD and player are matched. Each DVD can only be played on one player. This means that even if a DVD escapes, it likely cannot easily be played elsewhere. If a copy of the movie is made, then it was probably off the Academy Member's machine, and there is probably some way to identifiy the member based on artifacts within the movie.. This is quite different from the current situation in which a member can just claim that the disk was 'lost',

And yet one must wonder about the reason to go through such expense. Buying $6,0000 customizable DVD player that are hardened against attack cannot be cheap. Making sure that none of the unassigned DVD players hit the street must be expensive. Producing 60000 custom DVD cannot be cheap. From a bidness point of view, is there a real ROI from these costs? The theaters continue to rack up sales at astronimical rates. DVD sales continue at equal an equal nerve wrenching pace. But for some reason the Academy wants to concentrate on the management of custom DVD players rather than the creative act of making film. Madness.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605267)

#include
typedef unsigned int uint;
char ctb[512]="33733b2663236b763e7e362b6e2e667bd393db06 43034b96de9ed60b4e0e4\
69b57175f82c787cf125a1a528 fca8ac21fd999d1004909419 0d898d001480840913d7d35246\
d2d65743c7c34256c2c64 75dd9dd5044d0d4594dc9cd4054c0 c449559195180c989c11058185\
081c888c011d797df0247 074f92da9ad20f4a0a429f53135b8 6c383cb165e1e568bce8ec61bb\
3f3bba6e3a3ebf6befeb6 abeeaee6fb37773f2267276f723a7 a322f6a2a627fb9f9b1a0e9a9e\
1f0b8f8b0a1e8a8e0f15d 1d5584cd8dc5145c1c5485cc8cc41 5bdfdb5a4edade5f4bcfcb4a5e\
cace4f539793120692961 703878302168286071b7f7bfa2e7a 7eff2bafab2afeaaae2ff";
typedef unsigned char uchar;uint tb0[11]={5,0,1,2,3,4,0,1,2,3,4};uchar* F=NULL;
uint lf0,lf1,out;void ReadKey(uchar* key){int i;char hst[3]; hst[2]=0;if(F==\
NULL){F=malloc(256);for(i=0;i>2) ^(lf0>>16))b=((lf1 \
>>12)^(lf1>>20)^(lf1>>21)^(lf1>>24))lf0=(lf0>1) \
|(a>1)|(b>8)+x+y;} void \
CSSdescramble(uchar *sec,uchar *key){uint i;uchar *end=sec+0x800;uchar KEY[5];
for(i=0;i=0;\
i--)key[tb0[i+1]]=k[tb0[i+ 1]]^F[key[tb0[i+1]]]^key [tb0[i]];}void CSStitlekey2\
(uchar *key,uchar *im){uchar k[5];int i;ReadKey(im);for(i=0;i=0;i--)key[tb0[i+1]]=k[tb0[ i+1]]^F[key[tb0[i+1]]]^key\
[tb0[i]];}void CSSdecrypttitlekey(uchar *tkey,uchar *dkey){int i;uchar im1[6];
uchar im2[6]={0x51,0x67,0x67,0xc5,0xe0,0x00};for(i=0;i6; i++)im1[i]=dkey[i];
CSStitlekey1(im1,im2);CSStitl ekey2(tkey,im1);}

Translation... (2, Informative)

jridley (9305) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605273)

the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.

He let something slip right there. My guess is that they're using a much longer encryption key, and that the key is not stored on the disc, but in the player. So to crack as easily as CSS was cracked you'd have to disassemble the player as well, and even that might not help unless you can read the code out from the inside of the chip, which may or may not be possible.

While nothing's "uncrackable", a disc encrypted with a 256-bit key that you don't have would take a while. And even if you did crack it, the odds are that the contents is watermarked, and they'd know who the release came through, and prosecute him. Then you'd have to get another source for the next disc.

Bottom line would be, you'd not get any more discs, if everyone who supplied a review copy to pirates got busted immediately. And that's assuming they CAN be hacked.

Another Screen/Recording Unit (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605296)

Isn't it possible to route the output of the DVD unit to another recorder that would burn the film onto [video] tape or DVD? I am sure the graphics guys at the GIMP and MPlayer can find ways arround this new preventive measure.

Re:Another Screen/Recording Unit (2, Informative)

Meowing (241289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605351)

Isn't it possible to route the output of the DVD unit to another recorder that would burn the film onto [video] tape or DVD?
One of the S-View features is the ability to disable the player's analog outputs. Presumably this means that the players have integrated displays, reducing the possibilities to a cam job.

We want Divx or Xvid anyways (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605344)

So we have to reencode the movie. Why not take the additional analog step in between. It won't make that much difference if You use decent cable from that special player to plug in Your computer.

There's already a workaround.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9605365)

It's called a TV tuner card. Simply plug modded DVD player into TV tuner and press record. Presto!

While they're at it.. (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605376)

Lets put in GPS trackers in those players so we know for sure that they're in their intended location.

Thinking Through This (1)

jacoby (3149) | more than 9 years ago | (#9605383)

If it has a video out and an audio out, it can be hacked.

If it is a handheld DVD player or the like, with no outs, Hollywood types with huge screens and home theaters will not like it because they'll be seeing things smaller. A bigger-screened player might mitigate that some, but I doubt anything but a set-top box with video outs will be accepted by the audience.

And besides, considering some of the problems they're having, it someone could tape the movie off the dinky screen with a videocamera and it would still sell.
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