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Flash Memory with Copy Protection

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the please-help-me-to-behave dept.

Technology 365

Castar writes "Mercury News is reporting that SanDisk has created a new type of flash memory with copy-protection logic built in. From the article: "Today, much of a consumer's digital content is held hostage on a particular kind of device, such as an iPod or a PC, because that is the only way to prevent massive piracy. But with the SanDisk flash memory card, a consumer can move the digital content to another device. If the music company insists the data can only be copied five times, the memory card itself enforces that policy in the new device, be it a cell phone or music player." Rejoice that your data can be "liberated" from the confines of your PC or iPod!"

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365 comments

Hooray! (5, Insightful)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665400)

I was getting sick of all that freedom, good thing sandisk's taking care of that, so i don't have to

Re:Hooray! (4, Insightful)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665512)

Hooray! They'll also figure out a way that I can pay for it in my next device! (obviously a product that should be avoided.)

Hooray! One day we'll pay for "advanced" devices that let us do novel things such as "Duplicate" and "Read" (more than 5 times, and over my 30 day limit, and without a $14.95 a month license until the end of time aggreement.)

So, there is no benefit at all to this technology? (5, Insightful)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665404)

So, the only difference between this new flash and ordinary flash is that this one can do LESS ?

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (5, Funny)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665411)

So, the only difference between this new flash and ordinary flash is that this one can do LESS ?
Yes, and that's the key to its success! Isn't it nice?

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (-1, Flamebait)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665457)

So much more, to do so much less.

The engineers working on DRM are like bonded laborers, at work in the smithy - forging their own chains.

Th eimplementers of DRM systems are klike some insane Israeli state - using their superior resources building a "separation wall" to create established "facts on the ground" in advance of a civil settlement of territory in dispute.

Little wonder so much of this de-liberating cryptographic technology comes from research and manufacture in Israel - a nation that exports coercive police and espionage technology.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665464)

I note that the Dickhead in your username is there for a reason.

-1, Offtopic+Flamebait. Mods where are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665567)

Never saw a better candidate for a downmod.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (1)

indytx (825419) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665663)

So, the only difference between this new flash and ordinary flash is that this one can do LESS ?

Yes, and that's the key to its success! Isn't it nice?

If you think about it, the new flash memory has "supervisor"y functions!

Wait for it . . . .

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (4, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665422)

Presumably, future card-readers such as MP3 players and PDA's can only play certain types of content from such protected flash cards. So essentially this is not a standard flash card at all, just a completely new type of card with the same form factor as far as the consumer is concerned.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (4, Funny)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665438)

How about a new and improved version of this that tells the device 'I am a mighty protected flash card', but in reality allows unrestricted copying - then it has all the best features from both worlds, and would really be superior technology.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665465)

Well, I imagine they'll be an licensed encryption key required. That'll be cracked in about ten minutes (probably by DVD Jon), but using hardware implementing his crack in the US will magically turn you into a felon.

Hooray for the DMCA.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (2, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665614)

Depends on how it is implemented. If they use one key for all the cards there, it is fairly certain that somebody will crack it and publish it.

On the other hand, if they have one private key kept only by the vendor, the public key for this on each device, a serial number on each device, and a unique private key on each device with a certificate, then it won't be cracked. Sure, DVDJon can crack his flash device, and then he could read/write the data off it. However, your device uses a different key. If he cracks it using software-only, then this could be distributed. More likely, though, he will crack it using logic analyzers and electron microscopes, and you can't exactly just post do-it-yourself instructions for that online. He could mass-produce clones of his card, but the vendor could revoke his key once they found out about it.

I'm not sure how the protection is implemented, but if they really wanted to stop hardware cracking this is exactly how they would do it. Of course, just using one key is easier, and so who knows what they really did...

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (5, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665626)

And the encryption stuff won't be available for linux.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (4, Insightful)

steve_l (109732) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665424)

Yes, although I thought SD memory had this kind of "feature" too, as did some of the enhanced memory sticks from sony.

But remember we consumers have been crying out for a way to move our music around freely and securely. Oh, wait a minute, I have that, its called scp.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665481)

Yes. It's the CPRM SD application.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665548)

It can most likely contain unrestricted data, too. The point of the DRM implementation is that the RIAA/MPAA will not offer distribution services (at least not cheap ones) for any device that allows you to copy to unrestricted media so the devices wouldn't take your standard SD card or whathaveyou, anyway. This thing gives manufacturers the option of offering a removable media slot on their devices.

That's the whole point of junk like TCPA, some companies don't want their stuff digitally distributed outside of a "trusted" system so you'll have to offer a "trusted" system to them if you want their data. Of course you can still ignore TCPA, ignore the data offered by these restricted services and do what you always did.

Noone forces you to use TCPA and noone forces them to offer their content to non-TCPA systems. It's kinda like a contract, you have to sign it for some stuff but if you don't want the stuff you don't need to sign the contract.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665682)

Go away you TCPA fanboy.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (2, Insightful)

Ythan (525808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665551)

So, the only difference between this new flash and ordinary flash is that this one can do LESS ?

No, it can do more, the new functionality just isn't something most consumers will find beneficial. In my opinion, products like this are inevitable. Media companies will eventually have to tap the enormous potential of electronic distribution. Does anybody believe they're going to do this without some system in place to control access to their premium content? I just hope when the time comes it will run on an open DRM platform instead of some studio-created proprietary one. Not holding my breath though...

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (1)

redkingca (610398) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665658)

Not only do less with this card; but what do you want to bet they charge 300% more for the "priveledge" of doing less.

Re:So, there is no benefit at all to this technolo (0, Troll)

Nightlight3 (248096) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665674)

So, the only difference between this new flash and ordinary flash is that this one can do LESS ?

Similarly, the only difference between a rock and a Michaelangelo statue is that the statue has less rock. Or a difference between a woman at 18 and the same woman at 40 may be that at 18 her tummy had less fat. Or between you and an equivalent quantity of the same types of atoms that make your body is that your own atoms can be reshaped and rearranged much less while being you than the separate pile of atoms while remaining a pile of atoms. Less, icluding less free is often valuable and good.

Sigh (5, Insightful)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665405)

Step 1) Copy once
Step 2) Remove protection from your new copy
Step 3) No more DRM.

Re:Sigh (4, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665444)

This is the beauty. They can't decently propose music for sale without allowing you to burn a CD with it. So it comes down to:
1. Burn a CD
2. Rip the CD
3. Enjoy!!!!

They just don't realise that a mere recording from line-out to line-in in any half-decent sound card will sound as good as the original to 99.% of the users. So they should try and prevent that as well.

But I think what they are really up to is to try and prevent users to enjoy their music. Next thing to come, you won't be able to play it either, so there! No more copy protection problems.

Re:Sigh (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665529)

They just don't realise that a mere recording from line-out to line-in in any half-decent sound card will sound as good as the original to 99.% of the users. So they should try and prevent that as well.

They understand that perfectly well. They also understand that sound cards and speakers can be chipped to refuse to reproduce the sound of a file that does not have a valid license code. See DVD players. See the current issue of the broadcast flag.

They're working on chips for your ears and brain. I think they're just going to duct tape mittens on your hands and a super ball in your mouth. Don't even think about nose flute, if you know what's good for you. You won't like the solution with mittens on your hands and that super ball already in your mouth.

KFG

Re:Sigh (1)

Carthag (643047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665687)

The thing is, they have to allow two things:

1. People have to have the ability to play a recording they made themself
2. People have to have the ability to play a recording somebody else made

With those two requirements, it's just a matter of piping, really.

Re:Sigh (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665530)

But I think what they are really up to is to try and prevent users to enjoy their music. Next thing to come, you won't be able to play it either

Considering the quality of music nowadays, I'd say that's actually an improvement. I guess RIAA really is on the side of the little guy, trying to protect us from all the "music" their artists produce!

Re:Sigh (4, Insightful)

G-funk (22712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665568)

That's exactly what they'll do. If you want high definition video out of Windows Vista, you need to use the copy-protected output, cables, and rendering devices. That's a fact. Once people are used to it, they'll do the same with audio. And sure, you guys will all use XP, or linux... Until you want to play WOW2...

Re:Sigh (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665602)

Using XP or Linux isn't a way to solve the problem with DRM'ed content.

Vista will support it via all sorts of restrictions.

XP and/or Linux will have to as well, or not support it at all.

It's not exactly like XP and Linux will freely be able to play the negatively affected content in Vista.

Re:Sigh (4, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665593)

They just don't realise that a mere recording from line-out to line-in in any half-decent sound card will sound as good as the original to 99.% of the users. So they should try and prevent that as well.

Uh, they do [microsoft.com] .

Re:Sigh (1)

LoonyMike (917095) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665517)

I'd say that those 5 copies can only be made to trusted devices, no? Devices that will themselves enforce the 4, 3, ... counter for remaining copies.

DMCA (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665552)

You, sir, have just violated the DMCA by circumventing a technological measure for copy protection.

Re:DMCA (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665675)

quick, everyone paypal me money so I can take refugee in sweden with the fiber internet access and hot swedish chicks everywhere. infact, screw the refugee.

Copied? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665408)

What does `copied' mean? From the perspective of a storage device, the data being read and put on a CD, which is then duplicated a million times, is exactly the same as the data being read, decoded, passed through a DAC and fed into someone's ears. It seems that these constraints are either unenforceable or just plain silly.

Re:Copied? (2, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665426)

It seems that these constraints are either unenforceable or just plain silly.
Or both? But shhhhhhhhhhhh, don't tell anyone. Screwing up regular users (let's get real, they will be the ones screwed with ill-devised devices) seems to be their credo these days, so I say let them do it and we shall see if it proves to be a good business model.

History will tell.

Re:Copied? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665476)

Nah. If you're playing music from these chips, it will be allowed, but if you're pirating to your friends computer you must set the evil bit (there will be checkbox) and this flash memory reduces counter by one. It's fool proof.

Re:Copied? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665559)

They'll demand that any application capable of reading the data will correctly inform the system. Of course, we all know that all applications are absolutely 100% secure and could NEVER be compromised to act in a way not intended by the developer!

Copy protection, HA! (4, Insightful)

InitHello (858127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665415)

To quote Edward E. 'Doc' Smith:

Anything physical science can research and synthesize, physical science can analyze and duplicate

What they apparently don't get is that anything can be cracked, given enough time to research the protection scheme.

Re:Copy protection, HA! (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665546)

And even the Lens was copied eventually. Not that the few Boskonian black lensmen would ever fool anyone into thinking they were with the Galactic Patrol. If the next cards glow red and kill unauthorized users at a touch, then I'd start to worry.

Oh, the freedom! (5, Insightful)

Hanok (581838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665416)

I feel so much more free now that I no longer can copy my own files. Thank you!

Re:Oh, the freedom! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665620)

Don't be silly, your own files don't have any DRM restrictions on them and you'd be pretty stupid to add any that you can't override.

But does it run... (2, Insightful)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665417)

I'm not a linux (or Mac) nerd by any means, but I wonder if this fancy protection scheme will only work for Windows files.

When SanDisk starts manufacturing DRM-protected thumb drives and PNY or other manufacturers continue to sell unprotected thumb drives, I think the market will do the talking.

Yep, easy solution (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665461)

If it concerns you then just dont buy it. Lack of market support will soon see this die out.

Re:Yep, easy solution (1)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665615)

Lack of market support will lead to attempts to pass legislation to force adoption. The RIAA (and others) will spare no expense of buying Senators and Representatives in their quest to control all content, always, everywhere. Just doing nothing, unfortunately, won't work.

Golly I love Copyright Management! (5, Funny)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665418)

What will they think of next? DRM fruit? Apples you can only take five bites out of!

Re:Golly I love Copyright Management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665434)

Five bites isn't very much, but 640k of them should be enough for anyone.

Re:Golly I love Copyright Management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665515)

"Monsanto has won a legal battle against a Canadian farmer it accused of growing a form of genetically modified rapeseed it had patented without paying for it.

Canada's Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Percy Schmeiser, who was found to be growing the GM rapeseed in 1998, had breached Monsanto's patent.

He had denied planting Monsanto seeds, saying they took root on his land through natural cross-pollination. "

Oh snap! [bbc.co.uk] I think there's also a suit regarding some crops that won't pollinate and need to be rebought each year.

Re:Golly I love Copyright Management! (4, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665581)

No, YOU can take as many bites as YOU want, but will only be able to describe the experience (good or not so good) to 5 other people.

Re:Golly I love Copyright Management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665587)

No, DRM seeds.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/NewTerminatorCrops.php [i-sis.org.uk]

Seeds that grow only once, forcing the farmer to buy new seeds every season. How greedy do you need to be to think of that?

Re:Golly I love Copyright Management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665655)

It is a common practice amongst the seedy and depraved "dope peddlers" to microwave the evil weed, MARIJUANA (or "tea" as addicts call it) before sale, in order to render sterile any seeds that it may inadvertently contain. This serves two purposes. The drug is known to be weaker in a supply which contains viable seeds: "dope" which is absolutely seedless produces the best "high" (if this were smoked alone, and not mixed with tobacco, a single puff might be enough to kill the average man, or at least reduce him to a permanent state of insanity), with the effect becoming proportionately less virulent the better developed the seeds. But also, such a practice keeps the addict (or "dope fiend") from growing their own supply (or "stash") of the plant which produces this most poisonous drug, and thus forces them to return to the dealer for another "hit".

Be vigilant! Protect our youth! Help end the menace that is this wicked weed from the Devil's garden!

This is the general direction of the industry (5, Insightful)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665420)

The industry seems bound and determined to put copy protection on everything, whether it be ringtones or MP3s. Flash memory makers are doing their best to help them, and OS makers are doing their best to take advantage of those features.

We speak of Freedom as if Linux could provide it, but the question is gradually becoming whether it is better to be the canary in a gilded cage or the crow eating garbage in the snow. Having an isolated "free" system that can't interact with other "non-free" systems is not really how we expected things to turn out, I bet.

Re:This is the general direction of the industry (5, Insightful)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665439)

A crow eating garbage in the snow, definitely. Unlike his canary friend, he does not have to rely on an owner. Nor does he have to sing for his dinner.

Re:This is the general direction of the industry (1)

Blind_Io_42 (821280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665471)

This raises an interesting point. If most new techology will eventually have some form of "Big Brother" looking at everything you do we techophiles might want to hold on to our "obsolete" components, computers, CD and DVD drives and so forth. There may come a time when all this hardware will be more valuable than a new system - kind of like pre-ban assault rifles during the assault weapons ban years. They were selling for much more than they are today because you could only buy ones currently in circulation.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this new direction of integrated copy protection. What really needs to happen is for the RIAA to loose a high profile case that puts a dent in the current campaign. I think alot of these new measures are out of fear that the RIAA or other organizations will go after hardware manufacturers next. Companies may be doing this as a preemptive move to avoid litigation later.

Save your old hardware, someday it may just save your data.

Re:This is the general direction of the industry (4, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665518)

The way easy, low-cost hackability and freedom is disappearing fast.

It the old days, processors with DRM, on board boot flash and encryption didn't exist, because it would have cost too much, the theory wasn't known and it wasn't so obvious that schmucks would pay so much for fucking ringtones.

In the last decade, it has become clear that:

* hardware encryption is key
* schmucks (by the millions) will pay for ringtones
* downloading music is the future
* encryption works -- you can build a good cryptosystem for DRM
* hacker-types are the small, small minority of computer users (as opposed to 1977 -- when they helped make Apple the DRM-king that it is today)

So why would a businessman cut off 99% of the market, just to please a bunch of fat, bearded GNU/Linux fans, or a bunch of old, crabby BSD guys? Billions want their ringtones and pop tunes -- what do they know from freedom anyway? What is freedom, when you live in China/Africa/India and are bascially poor as dirty anyway?

More and more the question is just -- "why not" load it with DRM. The hacker types can either A) use other hardware or B) have a reduced-content experience.

Which makes me think hackers have had it pretty "easy" all along.

Re:This is the general direction of the industry (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665538)

``Having an isolated "free" system that can't interact with other "non-free" systems is not really how we expected things to turn out, I bet.''

Which is why we need to protest the use of proprietary formats and protocols. Just having the right to reverse-engineer them for interoperability reasons (as we have in the EU, AFAIK, IANAL) is not enough. We need the information required for interoperability to be freely available, or there will be no level playing field, no healthy competition, but rather vendor lock-in and monopolies. I think it's reasonable to legally require this information to be free.

I also wrote an essay on the subject [nyud.net] (still undergoing minor changes, feedback welcome).

and hundreds of thousands of end-users... (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665681)

and hundreds of thousands of end-users are bound and determined to believe that everything should be 'free as in beer' - and act upon this by taking things, and often sharing things, as if they were indeed 'free as in beer'. Whether it be ringtones, MP3s, movies or software.

And I say they can have them be free as in beer.. as soon as my apartment is free as in beer, my utilities are free as in beer, my food is free as in beer and my water is free as in beer.

Until such a time, most of my products are 'free as in choice'. You have the free choice of either ponying up the money if you think they're worth it, or go with a competitors'. Or, heck, write your own. The illicit copies path is not a valid 'option' in my opinion.

Considering there are those hundreds of thousands (millions.. whatever) who feel otherwise, though, I can certainly understand certain industries' desire to implement copy protection formats. I may not agree with most of them, but I can understand.

OK, DRM for music is present in the device.. (1)

Unski (821437) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665431)

..and I have the right to vote elsewhere with my wallet, but what about the ability to manage the rights of *my* data, quite aside from any music that may or may not be my property..?

To be able to restrict the usage of some of my files, yet distribute them to people, well admittedly I don't personally have this need, but surely someone could?

TFA goes on about liberating music and such, couldn't find any mention of user-side rights management..

"confined??" (2, Insightful)

akhomerun (893103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665433)

i don't understand how i'm confined. makes no sense at all.

if i use my PC or iPod, that's not really confining. plus, any idiot can get their music off of their ipod, it's as simple as viewing hidden folders. not to mention the availibility of free (legal) software that has that ability.

so how does this new flash memory free me up when i can just get current flash memory and copy my stuff as much as I want? i'm not really being confined at all. even with DRM, i can still play it on my ipod, my PC, and burn CDs to play on bazillions of devices. i can't even think of any other uses i would really want for my DRMed music.

hmm...maybe sandisk is making excuses here...maybe they know that consumers don't actually want copy protection built in to their flash memory.

Backfire (1)

thisnamewastaken (917498) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665442)

Eventually all of this copy protection/schemes will backfire very hard on the industry. I think that once the MPAA, RIAA, Faceless Corp., etc. can embrace technology (to their advantage) and such, we wouldn't see these feeble attempts at controlling our rights.

NO Mention of iPod (2, Informative)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665446)

The copy protection is between Sandisk->sandisk compatible transfers (from what I can tell)

Otherwise I assume the data will be an encrypted blob and be unusable.

No more worries! (1)

Blind_Io_42 (821280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665447)

Wow, this is great! I was so tired of my old Belkin USB drive and other memory that let me put any data I wanted. Now I don't have to worry about the possibility of moving copyrighted data, and I never have to think far enough down the road to possibly to *gasp* six backups.

Thanks SanDisk

/sarcasm

DRM definition files (4, Insightful)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665449)

This whole "Copy protection management" thing is getting ridiculous. What I want to know is how they can check for DRMed content without some kind of massive database.

Speaking of which, what on earth is next? Will we be having DRM scanners next to virus scanners and spamassassin? Will W32.Boyband_somecrap be part of a new wave of definition file? Will we need to upgrade our servers to deal with the extra load on DRM scanning?

Oh who cares anyway? As long as it all makes money for somebody.... ..... oh wait :)

Re:DRM definition files (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665617)

What I want to know is how they can check for DRMed content without some kind of massive database.
Speaking of which, what on earth is next?

Mmmm... seems to be a work for Google [managingrights.com]

Re:DRM definition files (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665648)

I'm just waiting for the first DRMed virus which will be well protected against reverse engeneering, but of course allows copying freely, as long as the destination system is "trusted" as well.

Damn... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665453)

I'd been lead to believe that Flash (woah-oh) was the Saviour of the Universe.

What? (3, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665478)

But with the SanDisk flash memory card, a consumer can move the digital content to another device. If the music company insists the data can only be copied five times, the memory card itself enforces that policy in the new device, be it a cell phone or music player."

Er, so if I copy a file from the memory card onto, say, an iPod, the memory card alters the way the iPod works? Huh? This makes no sense whatsoever.

One of these days, I wish there'd be an article about copy protection that protected the ability to copy.

Copy protected memory? (1)

Aryawhat (706371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665479)

I really need help understanding what this means. TFA is heavy on CEO/analyst statements about how wonderful and important this is, but light on how it works. The closest it comes to it is :

To create the device, SanDisk had to build a lot of computing power into what would otherwise be a dumb memory chip.

What on earth does that mean? Every memory chip has a powerful CPU?

As I see it, a memory chip basically does 2 kinds of operations :

  • Read, when the appropriate address and read signal is appplied on its pins, and the chip puts out the data.
  • Write, when an address, data, and a write signal are applied.

So, when the chip sees a read cycle, how does it know whether the program which is asking for the read is reading the data to play the music or to copy it?

Re:Copy protected memory? (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665494)

Memory chips are not "just memory chips" anymore. They do in fact contain little CPUs which run little programs which can determine whether commands (not simply signals) are read or write or some other application. This is the basis of multi-function cards like SDIO which can be both normal storage memory as well as an actual device.

Makes Sense (5, Insightful)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665489)

Cheap and secure DRM -- looks like San Disk has done it.

There needs to be integration with the processor (e.g. processor starts up, decrypts and runs a boot program using a special key) -- but that's already been done. Secure storage makes those two things work better. Note: if your processor is old school and non-DRM, you just snoop the bus and get the secrets.

Looks like a real home run: this is the "right place" (from an economic standpoint) to put the DRM. It will be cheap and secure.

However, it then becomes a juicy target for attack: if they are selling these chips by the millions, and they are protecting IP worth billions, then it is time to break out the acid and electron microscopes, and figure out how to deactivate it. And then it is busted.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665609)

the trick will be to wait until the planet is DRM saturated and then release the nifty programs and plug in chips that cracks it all. all of which will have been in top secret development in the mean time so that the exploits that are found arent published (and therefore fixed) until it's much too late.

Same as Sony MagicGate (4, Funny)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665497)

It's sounds the same as Sony's MagicGate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MagicGate [wikipedia.org]

The copy protected memory stick from Sony they did as part of the failed SDMI system.

In other COMPLETELY UNRELATED news, Sony plans 10000 job cuts after poor product sales:
http://us.ft.com/ftsuperpage/superpage.php?news_id =fto092220051313320477&referrer_id=yahoo&utm_sourc e=Yahoo&utm_medium=OrganicSearch&utm_campaign=URLC rawl [ft.com]

Enter Famous Bruce Schneier quote: (4, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665498)

Trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.
The sooner people accept this, and build business models that take
this into account, the sooner people will start making money again.
        - Bruce Schneier

Re:Enter Famous Bruce Schneier quote: (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665577)

It seems that is exactly what Sandisk is doing. Their product makes the bits harder to copy. You bet they're going to make money off of it. However, this product won't be the final frontier, so later they can release one that does an even better job, and make more money again.

But of course the cp command (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665502)

will tell the card that the current data file is just binary junk and doesn't have a copy limit.

Or is the "copy protection" just a byte pattern in the file, so that the card will refuse to copy certain files?

Bingo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665527)

The card will copy data via a command/response system. The filesystem will be managed internally, so there is no way for the client computer to directly access any of the files. It will have to request a list of content, then send a Read command with the appropriate file ID and the card will then pass the data along or reject the command according to the rules embedded in the file.

This is not your father's flash memory.

I just over heard an important conversation... (4, Funny)

el_womble (779715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665522)

RIAA: So it makes us, I mean out artists, richer?
Microsoft: Sure.. why not?
RIAA: Let me get this straight. You line all these ones and zeros up and it makes music.
Microsoft: Yep, on a little disk we like to call a MicroDisk TM.
RIAA: And this can be done for 100th of the price of pressing a vinyl record.
Microsoft: Sure can. And its easy too. The whole point of digital technology is that you can make zillions of 1s and 0s line up for no money whats so ever. Anyone can do it!
RIAA: Anyone?
Microsoft: Err.... I mean anyone who can remember these magic words (which are a big secret) whilst waving this MicroWand TM can do it.
RIAA: Ah! Theres the catch!... How much is the wand?

Re:I just over heard an important conversation... (1)

LosManos (538072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665561)

hejdig.

I guess Smart People already have figured out that music cannot be copy protected. The moment it enters the D/A converter it is digital and contains all the information needed. Just pick it up there and all copy protection in the world cannot stop it.

Unless - every player and D/A convert in the world contains anticopy circuits. Not every is needed btw, just many enough to make it tedious to copy and hard to come by copies. If it, for instance, is illegal to produce CD players without anticopy hardware it wont matter if countries don't sign the copyright agreements because there won't be any (large series) CD player producers.

So what the Smart People do is to hinder the copying as far as they can. And then they retire and don't care. So if they can fool the grey masses for 10 to 20 more years they have succeeded in their mission.

/OF

New Freedom. (5, Insightful)

P2OG (918497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665541)

That's the New Freedom(c). Get used to it. Flash drives that can't copy, cameras everywhere (London), not owning your own house (eminent domain), being held without charges indefinetely (patriot act). It's all part of the New Freedom (c). See everything is turned upside down. It's easy.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665601)


No animal shall sleep on a bed (with sheets).

Re:New Freedom. (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665627)

...cameras everywhere (London)...

Spelling pedant: dude, you mis-spelled "the entire United Kingdom except maybe a bit of Shetland, oh wait, they've got that covered too." Happy to help!

As an aside, UK residents have the right, under the Data Protection Act, to request any video footage of themselves taken by a private body (cost £10). Anyone tried this?

Arrgghhh - the name!! (4, Funny)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665549)

They spent 3 or 4 years working on this thing, and the best name they could come up with for the chip is gruvi. Someone needs slapping really, really hard.

rock star (1)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665558)

I'm sure this has been said better, somewhere else, but I just haven't read it yet: one of the great memes of the age is getting rich quickly. Hence the subject, "rock star". Maybe there are people out there who create the zen way, "create to create", but I guess that a large majority has more dollar signs than stars in their eyes when they fire up that amp / movie camera / what-have-you. If you make it into the "class A" celebrities, you've got it made: you've got the fuck-you cash, and the freedom that goes along with it.
 
Question: why are all the "new" rock stars still signed up with the big lables, in this day and age? They're signing away 90+% of the proceeds, and essentially all creative control. Answer: because 10-% of the large pie is still bigger than 90% of the small pie, and the big lables still define the term "rock star".
 
However: if fewer people figured that they can invest a large effort at one time, then re-sell the issue of that effort ten million times at $1 a pop, then this SanDisk invention would be moot. But it's more people, rather then fewer, so the invention is anything but moot.
 
/hello. my name is chris, and I'm a wage slave.

Copy protection? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665565)

I was expecting something smarter than plain copy limitation!
Real copy protection deals with grants and access permissions!

You all have the wrong mindset... :-p (3, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665570)

These news reminded me of the oxymoron of the day:

"We think it's a great consumer win, and it's a great industry win, to be able to ensure that with good copy protection, you can have so much functionality for the user", Jordi Rivas, Microsoft Director of Technology. (source) [tomshardware.com]

Would be sig-worthy if it wasn't over 120 bytes. :-p

Retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665575)

The whole concept is retarded (read: dreamt up by a Businessman with a eye for a quick buck and no knowledge of the underlying technologies), I hope the techies who worked on the project (read: expensive contractors who are clever enough to keep their mouths shut until they get paid) enjoy their thirty pieces of silver.

I hope that this and the other ill thoughtout pieces of tech die a quick and expensive death!

Next month... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665590)

"Today, much of a consumer's digital content is held hostage on a particular kind of device, such flash memory card, because that is the only way to prevent massive piracy. But with the Next Big Thing (TM), a consumer can move the digital content to another device. If the music company insists the data can only be copied five times, the Next Big Thing (TM) itself enforces that policy in the new device, be it a cell phone or music player."

WTF? (2, Interesting)

ceeam (39911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665596)

Anyone care to explain how this is any different to "protection" scheme used (or rather, un-used) in SD/Secure_Digital cards?

Fahrenheit 451 (3, Insightful)

obender (546976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665606)

You can't have full copy protection until you get rid of the analog version. I wonder how long it will it be before the *AAs start burning books?

Laws of DRM (5, Insightful)

acid_zebra (552109) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665607)

Some thoughts I am still mulling over:

a) Any device encumbered by DRM will fail if there are alternatives available on the market. If there are no alternatives the product might enjoy a limited success until the product becomes so successful that alternatives/clones/ripoffs become inevitable.

b) All forms of drm can be corrupted/broken/negated, and most will be broken within a matter of days or even hours.

c) Most new technology will be used in ways the inventors never imagined. Trying to restrict this behavior with DRM will surely kill your product.

This 'Gruvi' (what a horrible horrible name) probably falls under cat. A, and will disappear soon.

It's actually a good thing (1)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665628)

I think the "liberation" thing shouldn't have been said so sarcastically. What we need is *more* of these devices. If I can legally purchase music and no longer have it bound to my iPod and PC, but have it play on my other MP3 players or phone or whatever else I want, then DRM is more feasible.

RTFA Please (4, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665680)

Seriously guys did any of you read the full article or instantly just post here whining. I usually don't take the time to read them because I spend most my time responding to others people. However, in this case it helps to actually read, for if you did you would see that the talk from SD is that they would sell this devices in stores pre-loaded with the content you want to purchase or with content that would be 'unlocked' later.

I do not think, this device is meant for direct marketing to the public in anything resembling the way current flash drives are currently marketed. You would not be buying these and loading the DRM content onto them, the DRM content comes on them when you purchase them. The idea of this is that it will probably allow a set number of devices to read the media. When you insert it into the one device too many you get the cannot read message.

This is how it liberates the 'standard' user from music being stuck on their iPod. Most consumers (and trust me the slashdot community IS NOT most consumers) have no idea how to remove DRM from their iTunes purchases or know how to get the songs on their iPod back off. They have not had the great fortune of hearing about things like ephpod. So now they will have their DRM content on a flash disk that can go into their cell phone, PDA, PC, mp3 player and so on.
So put the foil hats away, and stop contemplating about the demise of SD because this IS NOT targeted for straight sale as a consumer media and WILL NOT replace all the drives and memories that they presently sale.
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