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DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole

samzenpus posted about 8 years ago | from the scuttle-the-screencap dept.


Art Grimm writes "Movie studios want to punish legitimate customers for legally purchasing content, while the real pirates go right on stealing. ZDNet's George Ou writes: "There seems to be a persistent myth floating around the board rooms of the movie companies and Congress that analog content is the boogie man of music and video piracy. In fact, they're so paranoid about it that they're considering a mechanism called ICT (Image Constraint Token) that punishes law-abiding customers for content that they legally purchased. But ironically, the real content pirates who make millions of bootleg movies have no intention of ever taking advantage of the so called "analog hole" because that is the slowest and lowest quality method of stealing content.""

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Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (4, Informative)

gbulmash (688770) | about 8 years ago | (#15022566)

I don't know what research the author of TFA has done on bootleg DVDs, but I've seen a few a friend brought back from Thailand.

The ones that hit the street before even the US release of the DVD are either from a video camera in the theater or from copying a screener. Often you can see the screener warnings while watching the movie.

Additionally, to serve an Asian market, many have had additional Asian subtitles added and then were recompressed, causing quality to diminish.

Bit-by-bit copies are fine and good in theory, but that's for discs already in release, serving the languages for which the discs already have subtitles or alternative soundtracks. But by then, there's already been a brisk trade in bootlegs those films.

Yes, the analog hole is inefficient and not the best way to copy something. It's merely an example of how a determined pirate can still get around most DRM. It's like protecting graphics on the web. You can disable right clicking, do odd things with MIME types, etc. But in the end, all someone needs to do is capture the screen and crop out the image.

Long and short, DRM and copy protection stops casual copiers. But dedicated copiers, if left with no other alternative, still have the analog hole as a last resort. And once one dedicated copier puts something on the file sharing nets...

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (1)

vmardian (321592) | about 8 years ago | (#15022742)

>> The ones that hit the street before even the US release of the DVD are either from a video camera in the theater or from copying a screener. Often you can see the screener warnings while watching the movie.

Movies hit DVDs so fast these days that most of the bootlegs in China and Malaysia are sourced directly from DVD releases. I'll estimate that 15% are from video cameras in the theatre.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (0)

stanmann (602645) | about 8 years ago | (#15022825)

The ones that hit the street before even the US release of the DVD are either from a video camera in the theater or from copying a screener.
And just in case the story poster missed it, HERE IS YOUR ANALOG HOLE. WIDE OPEN, AND USED BY PIRATES WORLD WIDE!!!

Yeah, once the DVD is out, there are better ways, but 0 day movie releases almost always exploit "the analog hole" in some way.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (2, Interesting)

DewDude (537374) | about 8 years ago | (#15022841)

Everything has been said about movies that can be said. But i've noticed everyone is kinda focusing on DVD's and movies still in theaters. In some ways..the analog hole is being closed in the HD world. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players aren't going to include componet video output and the newer HDTV componets are abandoning componet as well, per FCC ruling, going exclusively to HDMI and DVI connections. Which not only has a LOT of HDTV owners up in arms because our sets are going to be completely useless, but does in a way close the analog hole in the HDTV world. Then again, it's only a matter of time before someone makes a converter. However, the audio world is the one place i continue to see an analog hole exist. SACD and DVD-Audio players use analog outputs rather than optical or coaxial digital signals to carry thier audio to the reciever. Analog audio is good quality, let's not forget we live in an analog world..our eyes and ears process analog. The main problem in the piracy world is taking advantage of this hole properly, which many won't do because of the time and expense involved. I'm an audio engineer, I quite honestly find audio Cd's quite lacking in the sound game. The whole audio and DRM thing has come up before, along with discussions of the analog hole. The problem with the hole in the audio world is the equipment is almost good enough to capture an analog source with virturally no noticable loss of signal. It was even brought up a few times that record companies go back to distributing on vinyl to prevent piracy, it MIGHT work comsidering few people have the capability to properly record vinyl. It still boils down to someone will find a way..even if you've got someone with clip-leads in the back of a TV set reading the raw RGB being sent to the projectors (at least until we abandon CRT technolgy)..the methods will keep getting more creative..and the quality may or may not in As far as movie theaters..that's a losing game. Cameras keep getting smaller and smaller and more hidden in everday objects. Even if you place IR emitters around the screen to "overpower" the brightness of the screen in video carmera...a simple IR filter fixes that. So, in the myth of the analog hole...i couldn't call it busted..and i wouldn't quite call it confirmed as quality issue is there..but i'd diffently call it plausable.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 8 years ago | (#15022868)

Feel free to correct me, but I thought that bit copy isn't possible on CDs and DVDs due to the nature of the medium and error correction, and that some copy protection schemes use the bad sectors on the original so that if it sees bad sectors on the copy that are different, it won't play.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (1)

Ambidisastrous (964023) | about 8 years ago | (#15023328)

True, at least for the first part. In the world of low-budget audio CD recording [wikipedia.org] , after mixing and mastering you'll get one or two "master" copies of your CD. Then you treat that CD like god on a disk and send that specific copy out for replication. What you don't do is burn a few copies for yourself and your friends, give the master to your mom, burn another copy from your copy, shit on it, and send that CD off for pressing.

Point being, CD data still degrades with time and duplication.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (1)

Trejkaz (615352) | about 8 years ago | (#15022903)

Additionally, to serve an Asian market, many have had additional Asian subtitles added and then were recompressed, causing quality to diminish.

Are you sure we're talking about DVD still? With the DVD I know, subtitles are stored completely separately from the video.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 years ago | (#15023324)

Part of why they recompress (and strip out extras and other stuff) is because most DVDs are dual layer. Its significantly cheaper for the priate to recompress it to fit on a single layer blank than it is to produce a bit-for-bit copy on a dual layer disk.

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022924)

It's like protecting graphics on the web. You can disable right clicking, do odd things with MIME types, etc. But in the end, all someone needs to do is capture the screen and crop out the image.

You will now be sued by every website for aiding and abetting the pirates...

Re:Bootlegs often aren't bit-by-bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023250)

It's like protecting graphics on the web. You can disable right clicking, do odd things with MIME types, etc. But in the end, all someone needs to do is capture the screen and crop out the image.

Or look in their browser cache, of course. If you don't want people to have the image, why is your web server sending it to anyone who asks for it? (Even if it's sent with no-cache headers, all of that stuff is client-enforced... or client-ignored.)

Real-time monitoring of the sharing nets? (1)

maillemaker (924053) | about 8 years ago | (#15023389)

>And once one dedicated copier puts something on the file sharing nets...

I wonder how far off we are from the day when the "internet" content can be actively monitored. Already we are hearing rumblings about how P2P traffic can be easily identified and QOSed as desired. Or how the file sharing networks get infiltrated.

I wonder how far off we are from the day when pirated content, the sender, and receiver are identified in nanoseconds and calls routed to the appropriate local law enforcement agencies?


Analog over digital any day for me... (0, Troll)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 8 years ago | (#15022569)

I would prefer analog over digital, but I'm in the slim minority. I'm just weird like that.
I especially loved analog cell service, but Verizon is apparently killing that now.
Analog is going away one way or another, but I'll keep it in my life wherever possible.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 8 years ago | (#15022586)

You take an tenth-generation analog copy, I'll take a tenth-generation digital copy, and then we'll see which one looks and sounds better...

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022716)

The winner of that challenge depends completely on the analog and digital methods used to copy. It's completely conceivable that a tenth-generation analog copy could look better than a tenth-generation digital copy if you pitted an knowledgeable, meticulous analog copyist against an uninformed digital copyist who made bad choices involving lossy compression. (And lossy compression is the only kind you can use for online distribution.) I'm not saying either would look great, but digital does not always mean lossless or even superior.

I mean, there are some pretty awful-looking digital videos floating around on the web.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 8 years ago | (#15022986)

How about I make a first generation analog copy and just use digital copying from then on?

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

Traiklin (901982) | about 8 years ago | (#15023145)

well then you lost that fight before it began.

a 10th generation Analog copy will be able to be copied for 10 generations. at the rate Digital signal's are going you will be lucky to make a first generation digital signal copy.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (3, Informative)

HTL2001 (836298) | about 8 years ago | (#15022587)

I had a phone that was capable of analog on verizon... it sucked the battery dry ~5x faster than digital, even while not making calls....

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

cinnamoninja (958754) | about 8 years ago | (#15022619)

I had a phone that was capable of analog on verizon... it sucked the battery dry ~5x faster than digital, even while not making calls....

Sure, but I bet you actually had signal? I have been a happy Verizon customer for several years, as I had better signal than any of my friends. Then, I switched to a Treo, which only does digital.

Boom, low to no signal, almost anywhere I cared about. I love the phone, but analog is just further deployed.


Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022606)

... you will when those brain cancer cells hit...

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022664)

Why? What makes waves as opposed to bits so important that you'll keep it in your life "wherever possible?" What an idiotic statement to make. It'd be like turning down a pacemaker for your bad heart because it uses a battery instead of a steam engine.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

SilentResistance (960115) | about 8 years ago | (#15022740)

Please correct me if I'm wrong/confused, but isn't it a lot harder to be infected by a Sony-BMG rootkit if you prefer waves over bits?

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (5, Funny)

dingen (958134) | about 8 years ago | (#15022672)

Yeah, a digitally shot, digitally editted, digitally mastered and digitally distributed movie definitely looks better analog.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022708)

In fact, I transfer all of my DVD's to VHS. Just for quality.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 8 years ago | (#15022892)

You should transfer to film. That way you will have a viewable movie 50 years from now after the DVD plastic fogs over and the aluminum flakes off. And chances are that you will be able to find an antique projector to show it because you can bet that there won't be any working 50 year old DVD players.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

blincoln (592401) | about 8 years ago | (#15022730)

Analogue cell phones sound better to some people because they use more bandwidth - which is also why the service was more expensive and phased out in favour of digital. Unless you're using your cellphone to listen to a concert, you don't need hi-fidelity reproduction when it costs significantly more.

Given a choice between analogue and digital consumer formats for e.g. movies, digital is the clear winner. To get something as good as DVD video in analogue format, you'd be looking at a super-expensive, big, high-speed tape system like studios used to use, or film, which has the same drawbacks.

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (1)

oasisweb (924178) | about 8 years ago | (#15022738)

I cannot see any obvious way analog could be more useful than digital, so I'd really like to know why you feel that way about analog. Would you be so kind as to explain your point of view?

Re:Analog over digital any day for me... (4, Funny)

misleb (129952) | about 8 years ago | (#15022757)

Same here. I just can't decode those 1's and 0's in my head fast enough.


But it's important to keep in mind... (4, Informative)

O'Laochdha (962474) | about 8 years ago | (#15022600)

That this "penalty" is only a decrease in resolution. Unless they have a gigantic TV, in which case my guess would be that they could afford the better technology, the average Joe won't notice unless he's specifically looking for it.

Re:But it's important to keep in mind... (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about 8 years ago | (#15022699)

I keep hearing this comment. I can only assume that you don't have HDTV yourself? HD content looks significantly better than SD on a 36" TV, and the improvements get dramatically more noticable as you go up from there. Besides, prices on 50"+ TVs are dropping like crazy these days. Also, you're ignoring all of those folk who have large format TVs without the various proposed digital interfaces already, who aren't in the immediate market to upgrade them (and if they did, you're ignoring the people who repurchased those large yet older HDTVs).

Re:But it's important to keep in mind... (1)

Baricom (763970) | about 8 years ago | (#15023247)

I don't have HDTV, because when I visited the local big box retailer, I was not at all impressed with the quality. The channel I was watching had a HDnet bug, so I'm pretty sure it was a native HD signal and not upconverted. However, the quality was just horrendous. The picture had visible artifacts throughout - not typical pixelization you see on a bad MPEG-2 SD feed, but just general fuzziness that was not at all like the crisp, sharp picture everybody says HDTV has. The 36" NTSC TV next to the HDTV had a far cleaner picture.

Granted, the difference could be chalked up to signal quality, but if they can't get a clean signal at the store, I don't think I'd have better luck at home.

I'm not going to pay $2500 more for a DRM-restricted TV with worse picture quality than the current standard.

Ohhh the average Joe notices.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022709)

I have a modest sized TV, and when I play a hi-def source, about 9 out of 10 of my "average Joe" friends immeditaly say something like "Wow... that is an awsome picture" ... but they never say that for a standard-def source on the exact same TV. Even a superbit DVD will only rarely get a "Nice Picture" comment.

They may not know what 1080i is, but they know something good when they see it.

Re:But it's important to keep in mind... (4, Interesting)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 8 years ago | (#15022807)

I think "Average Joe" will instantly notice if his new DVDs look no better than his old ones, and be very angry! To make matters worse, once the disk is opened it cannot be returned. To avoid this travesty, those of us in-the-know need to inform "Average Joe" before he gets ripped off.

I will not buy any DRM crippled product, [dontbuycds.org] movies or music and am not shy about encouraging others to boycott them. Respect my personal property rights after the sale, or there will be no sale.

Repeat after me: (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about 8 years ago | (#15022607)

It ain't about stopping ``piracy.'' Not even in the slightest.

It's all about control, and the power that goes with it.



Re:Repeat after me: (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 8 years ago | (#15022620)

Right on, it's all about pay-per-view.

Re:Repeat after me: (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 8 years ago | (#15022787)

Right on, it's all about pay-per-view.

That's part of it, but not even close to all of it, or even the main goal, IMHO.

Even more important to the big media interests is keeping individuals and independent groups from being able to distribute content freely.

This is their biggest threat: the ability of anyone to create content and distribute it over the internet to anyone interested for free or whatever the individual or group feels is fair.

Without exclusive control over distribution and promotion, the whole media cartel collapses. Making proprietary DRM mandatory keeps the media cartel in control by locking out those without the ability to pay licensing costs, and/or making the terms of any such licensing such that it is useless for distributing independently created content.


Re:Repeat after me: (3, Interesting)

Slithe (894946) | about 8 years ago | (#15023153)

The biggest problem facing independent distribution is NOT global corporations; they have little to fear from independent developers. The biggest problem facing independent media is not the difficulty of production/distribution; the biggest problem is that THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILLING TO CREATE MEDIA!!

Steve Wozniak, the (co)founder of Apple Computers, once remarked that he thought every one would write the software he or she needed, and people would be free of the big software companies forever! While many quality open source applications are available, there are still many software niches where open source alternatives are either nonexistent or lacking compared to a commercial alternative.

When desktop publishing software became affordable, some analysts predicted that every person could have their own magazine; this is not the case. You do not have to spend much to distribut your music online, even if you want to charge money for it. You do not have to spend much to start an amateur film studio, yet there are not many independent films out there on the 'net'. Hell, there are not even that many amateur pr0n films! (at least, not at the rate I go through them)

For independent development to flourish, people just have to shut up and start producting: software, music, literature, videos, etc.

Re:Repeat after me: (2, Informative)

blibbler (15793) | about 8 years ago | (#15023163)

Thats an interesting idea, but do you have anything to back it up? All of the encryption systems I have heard of are entirely optional (at the option of the content producer.) CSS and region restrictions have always been optional on DVDs. All of the fancy DRM techniques used in the next generation HD disks are also optional (consider Sony's choice to use a lower level of protection for their (at least initial) releases) and once the burnable variety is available (likely to be a lot earlier in the cycle than for CDs and perhaps even DVDs) the different groups will want consumers to be creating HD disks using their own technologies.
The original mp3.com had 2 services: one where small content producers were able to make their songs available to the public for free (or at least at low cost); and one where people were able to register their purchase of regular CDs, and stream it over the internet. Unsurprisingly, the recording industry went after the second service, and did not care about the distribution of independent content.
Bit-torrent is used to distribute linux ISOs, independent games, independently produced movies and independent "TV" shows. Torrent sites focusing on the legal distribution of these are not sued or prosecuted while sites that solely distribute "pirate" material are targeted.

Re:Repeat after me: (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 years ago | (#15023269)

I can back it up to this extent.

4 hours of my life were spent watching Star Wreck instead of Hollywood Dreck.

That's 4 hours.. at least... that I didn't consume hollywood product. And I turned my buds on to it too.

It's just starting- but there is a lot of good stuff out there. Jeez- at least 20 hours of solid star wars stuff. Also a lot of non-hollywood songs (magnatune.com for one) that are inexpensive compared to label stuff and really professional.

I don't think TV/Movie folks care yet- but I do think that the music folks care.

Re:Repeat after me: (1)

cinnamoninja (958754) | about 8 years ago | (#15022644)

It ain't about stopping ``piracy.'' Not even in the slightest.

Weeelll, it is about stopping piracy. It's just not about stopping professional bootlegging and piracy. It's about stopping casual end-user piracy.

They want to make it hard to give a copy of content to a friend. It's not that they care about the actual copy made that way, but they think that this way they can change the morals of consumers. If they make it hard to casually copy something, and say loudly how illegal and terrible it is to want to, maybe people will buy instead of downloading.


Re:Repeat after me: (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 8 years ago | (#15022901)

If they make it hard to casually copy something, and say loudly how illegal and terrible it is to want to, maybe people will buy instead of downloading.

I'll take option three and do without their magnificent, most holy content altogether.

Re:Repeat after me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023018)

No, that's not at all what it's about. It's about locking out competition for profit, not changing morals.

Re:Repeat after me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022735)

Let's not beat around the bush. Control is the objective, but how can you achieve that level of control voluntarily?

The name of the game, and the root of the issue, is exploiting the coercive power of government. The winners are those who have the ability to do this. The losers are those who rely on voluntary association to sell thier product. Without government and its special "right" to employ coercion as a business model, none of this would be possible.

I don't buy it (4, Insightful)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about 8 years ago | (#15022878)

It ain't about stopping ``piracy.'' Not even in the slightest. It's all about control, and the power that goes with it.

I cannot believe that. Power for power's sake? Why? You seem to think these guys are a kind of evil overlord trying to keep the peons in their place. That's about the silliest possible motivation there could be because it flies in the face of reality.

NO, what motivates these guys is money, pure and simple (not that there's anything wrong with that since I'm an ardent capitalist). They want to do whatever they can to make as much money as the can for as little cost as they can. Following that logic, we find that if something costs them money or reduces the amount of money they can make, they'll be against it. But here's what you fail to realize: the customer is in the driver's seat here, not the media moguls.

If DRM is too intrusive or obnoxious, consumers won't buy into it, especially since DVD's are already here and "good enough" for most folks. If the industry starts getting heavy handed with ICT, consumers can and quite likely will revolt. Then, faced with the prospect of losing money, the industry will capitulate. They need our dollars (or pounds, or Euros, or whatever) far more than we need them. Deep down, they know that. The problem is that most consumers don't know it yet. But if pushed, they will discover it quite fast.

It's not about power, it's about money. No matter what the media moguls do, the one thing they cannot do is force us to buy their products. We have the power of choice, they do not.

Re:I don't buy it (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | about 8 years ago | (#15023017)

Intelligent people like us here at slashdot sometimes forget that the minions out in suburbia are quite happy to keep paying out money so that they can have their heads filled with propoganda. The sad thing is most of them don't even know it is going on. The power that comes with controlling the media is HUGE! Just take a look at what the nazis did with their controll of the media.

Re:I don't buy it (3, Insightful)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 8 years ago | (#15023200)

They do force people to buy their products. They simply make sure that the competition doesn't exist. And that is the why they need power.

So, even if they lose some money on the short term, the *AA will try to get power, because if they don't, the money will go to the competition on the future (and they'll need to adjust their prices). Although money is the final obective, you'd better think about power to understand them, not money.

Re:I don't buy it (4, Insightful)

Draknor (745036) | about 8 years ago | (#15023287)

But here's what you fail to realize: the customer is in the driver's seat here, not the media moguls

Except, we're not. Or at least, not actively driving. Sure, consumers *could* stop buying DRM, but we won't. The media industry will continue to slow turn up the heat, until we're long past boiling and we don't even realize it. Look at it the history of it --

1. We started with Macrovision, so you couldn't connect two VCRs & copy commercial tapes.
2. Laserdiscs - no consumer-level recorders, so no problem there
3. DVDs - region control & CSS, not supposed to be able to rip & copy
4. HD/Bluray - DRMs starting to get a little more intrusive

It's not going to happen over night, but once the HD/Bluray standards finally settle and people start buying & upgrading equipment over the next decade, HD & Bluray's DRM will seem like CSS does now - annoying, but not without its workarounds. And then they'll come up with the next big DRM control, and technical people will gripe about it and Average Joe will remain about as clueless.

The only way consumers will "revolt" is if they crank up the heat too fast. This industry doesn't move *that* fast, and they're smart enough to not alienate their entire customer base all at once.

In fact, the industry's biggest danger is consumers moving to other forms of media & content before the industry can react -- stuff like iTunes, podcasts, videoblogs, whatever's next. I definitely agree with previous posts in this thread that media moguls are in the DRM movement for control; if they can control the content & the distribution, they get to control where the profits go.

Re:Repeat after me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023011)

How to get modded to +5 on Slashdot:

"It ain't about stopping ``x'' Not even in the slightest.
It's all about control, and the power that goes with it."

Try it for yourself! Replace x with anything that the current mob of Slashdot Sheeple are against - you'll get modded up, 'cause "control" and "power" are the current Slashdot buzzwords.

There are a LOT of idiots posting and modding here now, and they all seem to have 6-digit UIDs. I wonder why that is?

hehe, old joke (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022616)

this reminds me of an old joke:

Why does CmdrTaco care about the analog hole and DRM?

Because he's a faggot who married a fatty!

Get it?

Re:hehe, old joke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022779)

When last I checked, marrying women is, in fact, not 'faggot' behavior.

Re:hehe, old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023416)

He could have married a fat man though, think about that.

Analog hole unnecessary (4, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | about 8 years ago | (#15022630)

The reality is you don't have to use the analog hole. Any encryption scheme is going to have a set of keys that will be, at a minimum, susceptible to some sort of clever replay attack. Even a DVD player hooked to the internet and sharing keys with a movie studio would ultimately fall victim to this.

The whole thing is stupid. The studios will never win.

Re:Analog hole unnecessary (1)

utlemming (654269) | about 8 years ago | (#15022774)

Yeah, just wait till some sort of open source decryption project opens that has the sole purpose of breaking DRM keys. Kind of like the SETI project. Sure it'll take forever for someone to break the codes, but if you use a distributed project that uses idle clock cycles, you could break DRM keys. And the more computers you get, the faster the break times.

Re:Analog hole unnecessary (1)

danielk1982 (868580) | about 8 years ago | (#15023316)

Uhh...no. Even a distributed project using every single computer on internet could not brute force a properly encrypted content in some realistic timeframe (say, your lifetime).

Re:Analog hole unnecessary (1)

synaptik (125) | about 8 years ago | (#15022849)

For HDCP, your 'replay attack' would only work if all recipients of the digital bootleg had the same display device... and I don't mean just the same model of display from the same manufacturer; I mean one with the same decryption keys as yours. While I don't know this next statement is true for a certainty, I strongly suspect that the decryption keys in the display terminus are unique to each device that comes off the assembly lines.

Plus, the replay would be a decompressed encrypted stream, meaning that entropy would be very high, and therefore compression efforts after capture would yield a negligible reduction in file size, at best. Translation: you'll be P2P'ing a big honking file.

Oh, and to top it off: your compression scheme would have to be lossless, further limiting your gain from compression efforts. Lossy compression would mess up the encrypted data in undesireable ways.

So yeah... your replay attack works for HDCP, but only for small values of "works".

Blah Infringement = Infringement/piracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022637)

So... the author talks about RIAA lies and propaganda over the analog hole, and how it's bad, which I agree with, but uses the framing of copyright infringement/piracy as something it isn't - a trademark of RIAA propaganda? Somebody's getting influenced!

Yay! (5, Funny)

Ardeocalidus (947463) | about 8 years ago | (#15022639)

"DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole"

Oh my god! Is it geek porno night already?!

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022983)

Yes, I am ashamed to say that I first read the title of this as:

DRM and the Myth of the Anal log Hole

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023304)

"DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole"

Oh my god! Is it geek porno night already?!

Sure... it's a double feature along with "Attack of the 60 inch HDTV vaginas".

But what about semi-pirates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022648)

Doesn't the movie studios efforts at least prevent an ordinary consumer from burning copies of movies for his friends? Keep in mind that high-capacity writable discs are coming.

Piracy is their excuse.. (4, Insightful)

SoCalDissident (953017) | about 8 years ago | (#15022661)

Their real fear is that it is becoming easier and easier for people to make THEIR OWN CONTENT and distribute it for free, aka youtube.com. Some of the best movies have been low budget movies produced by a few people with vision.

Re:Piracy is their excuse.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022840)

Any 99% of youtube.com content is just novel... or plain sucks in quality, really.

It's all about quality, the rule should be you get what you pay for, but I do agree the studio need to clean up their act on the quality side (i.e. better stories).

Re:Piracy is their excuse.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023111)

[i]Any 99% of youtube.com content is just novel... or plain sucks in quality, really.[/i]

That's funny, I'd probably say that about current theatrical releases.

It isn't about piracy (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 8 years ago | (#15022665)

The whole analog hole (and DRM in general) really isn't about piracy. The studios and labels know they won't be stopping anyone who wants to rip the off on a larger scale.

Instead, it's about us not format shifting, basically. The idea that you can take music or movies you bought and play wherever you are, at full quality, is anathema to them. They want us to pay for the CD. Then pay for the mobile phone version. And the portable player. And the car. And ...

A lot of the movie and music sales - and an even larger part of the profits - the past fifteen years have been people rebuying stuff they own in a new format. Beloved LP recordings and worn out VHS tapes were bought again as CD:s and DVD:s. But now, with fully digitalized content, there is little reason to ever do that again. Copies don't degrade, and the quality is already high enough (especially for music) that a new format just isn't very tempting.

But if you stop people from moving their data from evice to device, people will have to re-buy their content whenever they get a new device. It's an eternal upgrade revenue stream, like the shift from recordings to CD, but without any improvement in the viewer experience;without even having to pay for remastering or repackaging, in fact. And the more fine-grained you make the mesh of walls, the more often we have to pay again. Studios probably love that online services aren't standardized or compatible with each other; it means another resale every time someone switches from one service to another.

In fact, if I were a studio executive, and of a manipulative frame of mind, I'd back one service to the hilt - for, say, three or four years. Then I'd switch allegiance to a new (but incompatible) service, nudging everybody to switch, and pay again. If I'd be _really_ manipulative, I'd look at what my fellow executives in other studios are doing and try to coordinate the shift with them (no need to actually make a shady deal; just follow the group). I wonder a little, in fact, just how much time iTunes has left as the current king of the hill.

A steady stream of income without ever even having to produce any content. Who would not love that business model?

Oh yeah (1)

Cybert14 (952427) | about 8 years ago | (#15022772)

Movies for a long time as film are actually four or so times better than even upcoming blurays. So just convert them from way back and sell the same damn movie for a higher price and watch money pour in!

Wait until they hear about HD audio. Well, SACD crapped out so that scam didn't work.

Re:It isn't about piracy (2, Interesting)

tazan (652775) | about 8 years ago | (#15022959)

I agree for the most part. They don't care about professional pirates. They've already figured out they can't do much about them. They are trying to keep the average user from being able to copy it. Analog is a huge hole in that regard, because even the hopelessly incompetent can use it.

Re:It isn't about piracy (1)

SloJohn (894738) | about 8 years ago | (#15023032)

Money, Money, Money if you are not a CEO or investor in the Media Conglomerates you cannot fathom the motives of these Corporations

this blurb is terrible! (5, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 8 years ago | (#15022677)

I've seen few summaries so bad. First of all, it's so dripping with bias that it's hard to understand what is even being said. The write-up should include details, not opinion! Also, it fails to make the basic distinction between copyright infringement and theft.

Re:this blurb is terrible! (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | about 8 years ago | (#15023029)

Its not the blurb/summary, its the article... Not only did the author of the article wear his bias on his sleave, he didn't even do his research to fully understand what he is talking about!

the analog hole isn't a myth... (5, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 8 years ago | (#15022683)

...and what's more, it IMNSHO can never be entirely plugged.

So long as content has to be displayed, it has to be converted to analog signals in the process. And while it may take a large amount of effort to "uncover" the hole - such as, disassembling an LCD panel and tapping into the driver circuitry - it only takes one person to redigitize the open content and distribute it, and all of a sudden it's everywhere again.

There *IS* one strategy that might work; it involves adding a system for embedding a digital watermark to the decryption mechanism, which could help content owners track stolen content back to the one who did the stealing (assuming that person or group had no way to cover their tracks). But if the content owners implemented such a strategy, there'd no longer be a reason to cover the hole!

All I can say is, if I do purchase a HD-disc and then discover it won't play at full resolution on my hardware, I'll simply download a free-market copy. I'm sure they'll still be available.

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (1)

eluusive (642298) | about 8 years ago | (#15022773)

They already do that watermark stuff with screeners. Those people remove the watermarks from the screens already too.

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 years ago | (#15022866)

All I can say is, if I do purchase a HD-disc and then discover it won't play at full resolution on my hardware, I'll simply download a free-market copy. I'm sure they'll still be available.

I downloaded the high-definition version of Terminator 2 when I discovered the "Windowqs Media 9" 1080i version of the film included on the second DVD was:

  - Interactual's proprietary format, NOT Windows Media (it was WMV in name only)
  - Viewing was limited to 5(!!) days

Nowhere on the box was either mentioned. So. upon discovering (upon rebooting to Windows) a) that I had to install Interactual's player and b) I had only five ****ing days to watch the thing, what did I do?

That's right, I went to a torrent site and downloaded the thing. I'm sorry I wasted my money on the ****ing "ExtremeDVD" because nowhere was the REQUIREMENT of Interactual (it was listed only as "recommended") nor the five-day limit on viewing ever mentioned on the packaging.

It wasn't much money, but the deceptive marketing STILL has me pissed off. Thank GOD for BitTorrent!! :D

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022879)

There *IS* one strategy that might work; it involves adding a system for embedding a digital watermark to the decryption mechanism, which could help content owners track stolen content back to the one who did the stealing (assuming that person or group had no way to cover their tracks).

Of course, that would require that no one in the world be allowed to buy a movie without using a credit-card. And even then there's untraceable prepaid cards.

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (5, Insightful)

David Gould (4938) | about 8 years ago | (#15022930)

Yes, the "analog hole" is real, in the sense that it prevents any DRM scheme from ever being able to completely eliminate any possibility of copying, but it's very deceptive, for all the reasons mentioned already (real pirates don't use it anyway, it's all about control, etc.) Another reason, which I haven't seen mentioned yet on this thread, is more subtle: it's psychological manipulation, hiding the fact that they're asking for new rights.

By referring to the possibility of analog copying as a "loophole", they create the impression that it's something new, and that it's not a situation that has previously been considered acceptable. But of course, before we had digital content [*1], all copying, legal and illegal, was analog. Their whole argument for justifying laws like the DMCA was that with digital content came the possibility of digital copying, and that, since this removed the generational-loss problem, copying became more practical (shifting the balance against them), making such laws necessary just to restore the previous balance. But since analog copying was already part of the previous balance, adding laws to block it would be shifting the balance toward them, more than it ever was in the pre-digital days.

In short, they're rewriting history: reinforcing the false impression that the rules established in the DMCA have always been part of traditional copyright law, and that to leave the "analog hole" open would be to take away something that they've always had, when in fact, closing it would be to give them something that they've never had.

[1] if anyone can remember a time sooo far back as the early nineties -- Gods, I'm old (29).

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (1)

TFloore (27278) | about 8 years ago | (#15023051)

All I can say is, if I do purchase a HD-disc and then discover it won't play at full resolution on my hardware, I'll simply download a free-market copy. I'm sure they'll still be available.

I have a question in response to this statement.

After you discover that your purchased product is inferior to the pirated version, will you continue to purchase the crippled legal version? Or will that be your last purchase of HD content, and you will then become purely a consumer of pirated content, because it is a better product?

That's my problem.

I'm avoiding going HD because I know myself well enough to know how frustrated I'd be buying an inferior purposefully-crippled product, and then having to download a pirated non-crippled format anyway. I'd quickly swear off buying HD content, just to avoid the frustration. Note that I didn't say I'd avoid HD content, just that I would avoid buying it.

And I don't like that. I actually like being a law-abiding citizen. But not when the game is rigged.

Re:the analog hole isn't a myth... (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 8 years ago | (#15023139)

Give me a call when it'll stop people getting a videocamera and a tripod and I'll start to get concerned. Until we're all in The Matrix, it needs to be analog before our brains can interpret it. I'm quite confident that music put out digitally on speakers is going to cause some serious damage, aside from sounding atrocious. Sure, the signal can be digital, but everything needs to be decoded before it's spit out.

Your idea is thwarted by Macrovision and the like. A content protection that's still in the analog signal, but invisible (well, outside of the visible picture). Sure, that too can be broken, but it's still another link in the chain. As it is, pirates need to break every link, but most are about as strong as wet toilet paper.

As I've been saying, the HD crap is going to cause a lot of headaches at retail stores at the very least. It just works out so that it's probably illegal under the DMCA for people to even publish a warning about downsampled content now.

Think of what you need for next-gen media. HDTV set. HDMI input. HDCP-compliant HDTV (I guess it's implied in the spec, but I'd wager it's not a part of HD-ready which is probably what most people have). $900 player. $30 movies. Benefits over DVD: somewhat higher picture and sound quality, the latter of which probably is negligable on your typical consumer-level setup. Now DVDs: Any TV. Composite input or better, even RF coax for some players. $50 player. $15ish media or $4 rentals. Benefits over VHS: hugely higher picture quality, interactive menus, digital surround sound, media which doesn't deteriorate over time, smaller media, nicer players can upsample content to HD output (not having used an upsampling player I can't comment on its effectiveness, but I'd bet in most cases it's better picture quality than a HD set itself doing the upscaling).

Point being that with VHS->DVD, the costs weren't insane and the restrictions were minimal (region coding and some UPOs), while the improvements over the previous format were monumental. With DVD->[HD winner], the costs are crazy all around, the restrictions are over the top and the difference in quality (in my eyes, anyways) isn't nearly as noticible.

Few studios will use it (3, Interesting)

jheath314 (916607) | about 8 years ago | (#15022694)

As far as I can tell from the chatter, only W-B seems dead-set on using ICT. Fox has decided against it, University probably won't, and Disney likewise seems to be leaning on the side not activating ICT (for now). A few weeks ago Sony surprised me by also opting out [arstechnica.com] .

I'm not sure why the media companies are trending so softly on this issue... most people with analog HDTVs won't know the difference between the degraded and full-resolution versions anyway, and the video-philes who would catch on are likely too small a group to really impact the companies.

Me, I'm so disgusted with the whole DRM mess that I feel absolutely no compulsion to get HD in any form. Perhaps as my current technology begins to wear out I'll find myself spending more time in the real world, with its amazing "true to life" resolutions and frame-rates.

Re:Few studios will use it (1)

raitchison (734047) | about 8 years ago | (#15022802)

As you said, most studios won't be using ICT for now because it's already gotten a decent amount of attention and they want to make abig deal out of making it a "non issue" so it won't be a barrier to Blu-Ray/HD-DVD adoption.

Once the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war has been won (the only sure thing is the loser will be consumers) and the winner has made significant inroads in the market I don't think there's a chance in hell that the studios won's start turning on ICT, they will do it for a few "select" titles first and before you know it (before 2010) vritually all new movies will:

  1. Only be available on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray (whciver one ends up winning), specifically not available on DVD
  2. Have ICT enabled

The only way to prevent this is for both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD to fail in the market

Re:Few studios will use it (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 years ago | (#15023425)

The whole ICT thing is useless anyway.
Pirates arent going to care that they get a lower quality image from component output. They will just use the lower quality image, use a DVD version of the film (the bandwidth to distribute any kind of "high definition" content over p2p, bittorrent etc is not there and wont be for quite a while yet and even for physical bootlegging they will still be using normal DVDs for some time to come as too few people can play any kind of high def content) or use a crack for HDCP (I believe there are actually cracks in existance that crack the entire system, not just specific devices).

The people who will care are all the early adopters with their high definition TVs who now find that they need to buy another $$$$$ TV to watch any high definition content. If one standard was to drop this image constraint crap from the standard altogether then they could easily win the "high definition standards war"

the free will hole (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 years ago | (#15022717)

it is impossible to empower a customer to consume your content while at the same time restrict their ability to copy it, by any means, with any technology, with any scheme you can devise

it's simply a matter that providing them the tools to consume your media also provides them the tools to copy it, and it is simply not possible to do one without also enabling the other

it's philosophically impossible, no analog hole need apply

the philosophical impossibility is supplied by the concept called "free will"

no company, no matter how much time, technological innovation, or money it has, can defeat a group of poor technologically astute teenagers with time and motivation on their hands to consume your media without your restrictions. no human-devised security sytem cannot also be defeated by human beings. there is no such thing as a technological fix to human ingenuity

the poorest of your customers, who are therefore the most motivated to steal your content, just happen to also be your prime target demographic audience as well

in other words, the current ip system is simply doomed


Re:the free will hole (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 8 years ago | (#15022902)

'the philosophical impossibility is supplied by the concept called "free will"'

Yeah right, tell that to the bottled water industry. I don't see them going out of business anytime soon. Free will? Somewhat illusionary.

Re:the free will hole (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 years ago | (#15023260)

you don't *have* to buy bottled water. same psychology as starbucks: people like to splurge on themselves. you *have* to go through time warner if you want the movies they own the rights to. this is a limitation on what you consider yours: your culture. thus the resentment and the impetus to act

there are two kinds of riches: financial riches and cultural riches. content creating companies are limiting the public domain as much as they can, and will push the limits forever, until there is no public domain. the impetus to do that is driven by financial gain, theirs, at a corresponding culturual loss, ours. songs and movies that should have gone into the public domain years ago won't go into the public domain now until you are dead, thanks to sonny bono

so that is what is happening in your world todya. ip law has ceased to make sense and ceased to be morally sound. corporations are enriching themselves at your detriment. you should own your culture, all of us should own our culture. but if it were up to bmg, time warner, etc., they would own your culture forever

it's a balance. the content creators DO have a right to limit your access to content they create. this provides them with an incentive to create content. but only in certain ways, and only for a certain amount of time. and yet currently, the limitations on what they can do to limit your access and how long they can limit it are exapnding beyond the common sense balance between financial incentive and cultural considerations

what do those limitations do? they impoverish you. not financially. they impoverish you culturally

that's not morally right, nor even financially sound, in the long run, for the content owners. for pulic domain culture is the basis for the creators of content for the next big financial gains of tomorrow

Solution... (3, Insightful)

all204 (898409) | about 8 years ago | (#15022824)

I have a solution to all this DRM nonsense... Make and play your own music (I play guitar), they can't DRM or control that in any way. Besides it is a very satisfying and rewording hobby.


Re:Solution... (4, Insightful)

Petrushka (815171) | about 8 years ago | (#15023144)

Make and play your own music (I play guitar), they can't DRM or control that in any way.


No, I'm serious. I too am a musician (piano, mostly). Consider: it's not out of the question that some software company might decide one day that they want to control what you do with your own data that you have created using their software. After that, there's not a big conceptual leap between controlling what you do with your data and controlling all private artistic output; the only thing missing is the technology.

OK, OK, my tinfoil hat is on really tight today, but I'm thinking say a few decades into the future, when everything might potentially be "tagged" in one way or another, -- including acoustic musical instruments. And that bit, I fear, is not at all a paranoid fantasy; I think it's very likely.

Re:Solution... (5, Interesting)

The Real Nem (793299) | about 8 years ago | (#15023251)

I was recently looking for a DVD player/recorder for my parents. They wanted the player for two reasons, one to record shows they like, and two to send some home videos off to my sister in England. When I went to a few stores to check out the models they had, I asked one of the sales staff if the recorders could encode region free DVDs (so my sister could pay them on her TV). He looked at me like I was some kind of crook and actually said: "here in Canada we obey international copyright law".

Sure I could have reencoded the DVDs after they were recorded, but that is beside the point. My parents own the copyright to their home videos and should be able to do whatever they want with them. This is just another case of the industry hurting the consumers.

We didn't buy.

Battle of the DRMs (5, Funny)

Randall311 (866824) | about 8 years ago | (#15022869)

RIAA: *compairing DRMs with the MPAA... "I see that your schwartz is as big as mine! Let's see how well you handle it."

cowboyneal is fat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15022873)

bowels quivering
exploding feces revealed
fucking shitty mess

sounds like cowboyneal after eating his 3rd breakfast burrito

"Analog Hole" alive and well, see bittorrent sites (1)

ylikone (589264) | about 8 years ago | (#15022932)

Have a look at the majority of new (and not yet released) movies that you can download from bittorrent sites... they are usually "Cam" copies, meaning somebody used a camera to copy it off the big screen. And guess what, people download these and watch them! The quality may not be great, but you get the gist of the movie and whether it is worth it to see on the big screen or rent it later.

Re:"Analog Hole" alive and well, see bittorrent si (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 years ago | (#15023440)

Actually, more and more copies are "DVD" copies (either copies given to people like film reviewers, awards judges or others or copies stolen in some form from pressing plants, DVD authoring shops or something else)
"cam" films are getting less and less.

Not a myth, they know exactly what they are doing. (4, Insightful)

linuxtelephony (141049) | about 8 years ago | (#15022950)

I doubt it's a myth. I bet they know exactly what they are doing. It's just all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

They know they are fighting a losing battle with the "digital copies" that won't be affected by closing the analog hole. However, they also know that they have a captive audience of people that have already purchased their product. These people, at some point, WANT the purchased product.

Media shifting has (or at least was, don't know if recent case law has overruled or changed it) been legal as fair use. That means it is (or was) legal to copy a CD to casette if you legally purchased the CD and wanted to listen to it in your car cassette deck.

The media companies don't like this. They want you to have to pay them a second time for the different media. They could not (or at least I don't think they have) stop the fair-use media shifting directly. Now, however, using the guise of piracy, they are taking steps to stop people from being able to do their own media shifting. The end result will be, at least what the media industry hopes will be, a large customer base of people that they know will spend money, since they have once already, on their product that will be more inclined to spend money again for different media.

Think about it like this. If an older album sold 10,000,000 copies on cassette, and the same album then sold 1,000,000 copies on CD, the media industry will look at trends like that and see an automatic 10% revenue source for minimal work. Now, suppose a CD sells 10,000,000 copies, and the next audio format comes out. If they can make it imposible to copy that CD to the new media format, then it is likely that they'll be able to capture another 10%. 10% doesn't sound like much, but if they sell 1,000,000 copies of a song, and they are pocketing 1 or 2 dollars, that's 1 to 2 million dollars extra, times the number of titles they can repeat this process with.

In the end, I think they know exactly what they are doing.

Re:Not a myth, they know exactly what they are doi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15023160)

10%, I like it.

My 2 cents (3, Insightful)

Temujin_12 (832986) | about 8 years ago | (#15023128)

When someone listens to a song the emotional attachment is made with the artist of the song, NOT the company that produced it. I personally feel the whole DRM situation would taper off if this emotional attachment was reflected economically when a consumer purchases a CD. That way the consumer has an emotional incentive to obtain the song legally since their purchase goes directly to the artist and enforces this emotional attachment. The same is true for movies, books etc. The problem is that in order for this to happen, the large producing/publishing companies will have to go away (or at least fall backstage). These companies know this, and what we are seeing is their attempts to stop natural economic and technological trends. Once it becomes economically feasible for an artist/author to produce/publish their work somewhere else, either by themselves or via companies that don't demand ownership of their work, they will do it, and DRM, as well as large producing/publishing companies won't be needed as much.

Pirates = Scapegoat (5, Interesting)

DMouse (7320) | about 8 years ago | (#15023212)

The real analog hole that the studios are trying to eliminate is the massive amount of legal content already in people's homes that the studios think is stopping people from buying new content.

Pirates are just a useful scapegoat.
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