Thursday, September 27, 2007

Research Firm Predicts New Copyright Protection Technologies for Blu-Ray, HD DVD

After it became clear that the widely-discussed Advanced Access Content System (AACS) copyright protection technology is not a panacea against copying and ripping high-definition videos from Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, the studios did not react. However, this does not mean that no new copyright protection technologies are in the works.

ABI Research market research company in its recent study predicts implementation of a new security technology to restrict end-users’ content management abilities. For example, makers of DVD players and Blu-ray/HD DVD publishers can alter necessary security keys, which will require to update firmware of a player to allow playback of new content.

“Designers of AACS contemplated such a problem and made it possible to revoke a compromised player. The revocation feature is a significant new capability of the HD DVD content protection system, as players can be revoked by changing the disk key on new DVD releases. This key, when combined with a targeted player key, will fail to create a key that can descramble the disk contents. And in order for the new disks to work, the player needs to be updated to a new version,” said ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson.

Furthermore, new watermarking techniques, which are already in use in theatre content source, are being implemented that may require enhancements to high-definition DVD hardware platforms. ABI Research sees a high likelihood for the incorporation of these changes, among others.

“The watermarking process tags audio content in such a way that analog copies will be rejected by the player. Content owners could unobtrusively tag their original source material and facilitate source detection of pirated material,” Mr. Wilson said.

It is uncertain whether leading makers of DVD players are actually interested in embedding additional security software, firmware of hardware technologies into their devices, as not only this increases the ultimate costs of high-definition video players, which are not really popular on the market even now and are likely to remain in a similar positions for another 18 months, but also may also raise support costs, as if content owners alter security keys more or less regularly, hardware makers should prepare new firmware on a regular basis, something that consumer electronics makers generally do not like.

“Watermarking algorithms and techniques are not secret. But in order to break the watermark, they would require access to encryption keys which can be stored in protected hardware locations. Such hardware resources are becoming commonplace in consumer electronics solutions,” explained Mr. Wilson.

ABI Research’s recent study entitled “Hardware Security in the Consumer Electronics Market: The Dawn of Secure Processors”, examines new processors and considers the implications for the home digital video network market. In addition to its forecasts, the study surveys the work done on the PC platform and in embedded environments, and explores key industry initiatives shaping the marketplace.

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