“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” -- Winston Churchill

Content Insider #87 - DRM…Pirates Helped in Ways They Didn’t Plan

THE Insider

Content Insider #87
DRMPirates Helped in Ways They Didn't Plan

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." -- Winston Churchill


Whether content developers and content owners (consumers) realize it or not, we owe a big vote of thanks to the Doom9 yahoos.

Not for the reason they think either.

These are the self-righteous individuals who hacked the "bulletproof" AACS DRM (Digital Rights Management) code in the name of setting movies free.

Had they hacked it, passed it around amongst themselves things might not have changed. We'd still be saddled with an oppressive way of watching our store-bought movies!

But what good is it to hack something that is hack-proof if no one knows about it?

They had to share their bragging rights.

And they did with postings at Diggs, on t-shirts and everywhere they could find the opportunity to expose themselves.



Bragging Rights - To show the world how righteously brilliant they were the Doom9 hackers and others took up the AACS DRM breaking cause in every way possible with thousands of postings on the Web.

You know that wasn't going to sit well with the protectors of human rights !

They did what they get paid to do.



Shark Attack - When the AACS lawyers were confronted by someone who spread the word on their brilliant 32 number code they did what they do bestthey attacked.

They sent cease & desist letters to anyone, everyone who posted the elegant 32 digit code.

And probably a few t-shirt silkscreeners as well.

Greatanother riot on the Web !

Before we go any further let's emphasize that creative people need to be paid for their workwriters, artists, animators, actors, makeup artists, best boys, post production folks, underwriters and yes even studio execs.

No payno play !

The problem is the world doesn't want content protection.

Consumers don't want content protection.

Yeah we know you don't really want to pay for your content. But when you do you want to enjoy itanywhere !

AACS's approach has been if you want a copy to watch on your TVbuy it.

Want a copy to take to your cabinbuy it.

Want a copy to occupy the kids while you drive to visit grammabuy it.

Want a copy in the family room and bedroombuy it.

Sounds logical to Tellywood.

Sucks for consumers.

Tellywood knew a gentler, kinder security solution wasn't the answer. After all they tried CSS (Content Scrambling System).

That sucker was busted before the ink was dry!

Funny thing was DVD took off like a rocket!

In three years it shot past every PC/CE technology in consumer salesever.

People snapped up players and burners in unbelievable numbers.

Discs flew onto the shelves.

And a huge underground pirate industry grew.



Pirate Tracking - Hollywood has spent a lot of time, effort and money tracking pirates. They know where they attack, how they attack and just about how quickly they can get their booty into the consumer's hands. Consumer ripping isn't high on the food chain though.
Source - Walt Disney

HighDef was Tellywood's opportunity to take corrective action.

The new DRM was impressiveeven to the pirates.

Ok not to the real pirates because they go to the sourcekeep their mouths shutkeep a low profile.

But for Doom9ers? Crack itspread the word.

The fact that the 32-character sequence is useless is of no consequence.

After all you need to write a complete program around it to start copying HD movie discs. The key only unlocks movies made before April.

So who benefited ?

Aaahhh the lawyers.

Oh yeah and the bragging rights folks.

Sure they could have posted the movies on the Web so you could download them but

A 2-hour HD DVD download over DSL takes about 3 days.

Cable 18-19 hours.

Fiber about 2.5 hours.

Perhapsjust perhaps that's why people aren't jumping on that bandwagon yet.



Online Demand - While there's a lot of noise about movies on demand and getting your entertainment over the Internet, reality doesn't quite keep pace with the hype. It will take time, bigger pipes, different security and a lot of education for mainstream consumers to turn to the web.
Source - Ipsos Insight

Will it happen?

Sure.

Just as soon as really big, really secure pipes are everywhere.

Or just as soon as we can plan ahead enough to start downloading a movie at midnight so we can watch it tomorrow night.

Real consumers don't want the hassle.

All they want to do is watch their real world escape movies...their educational showstheir documentaries.

People don't really want to be technology troubleshooters on top of their regular jobeven if their regular job is IT.

Even early adopters (really smart techies) say all they want to do is buy their expensive HD DVD or BD playertheir expensive HD DVD or BD burnertheir high priced kinda good HD DVD or BD movies and watch the show.



Consumer Preference - Volume buyers of movie content want their content their way. They want to be able to play it herethereeverywhere. And they want to do it without a lot of hassle!
Source - CEA

So what was so great about the Doom9ers efforts and the AACS response?

The kids showed the industry - content creators, hardware/software folks - that the money-making AACS DRM was little better than CSS.

Fortunately the blue technology hasn't taken off like the proverbial rocket ship so the industry can make a course correction without ticking off millions of folks who laid out big bucks for their players and movie libraries.



Long, Lonesome Road - Even when Tellywood delivers a better DRM solution it will take time - a lot of time - for consumers to move from today's current DVD technology to the next generation. It will be a long time before HD DVD and BD achieve the industry's ultimate goalworld domination.
Source - IDC

And the better answers are out there

One of the best - and most expensive - is watermarking (see Wikipedia).

When you buy or rent the content it is coded to you.

If it finds its way "into the channels"busted!

There are a lot of technical and cost issues involved so while it's a great idea it will probably never emerge from the lab.

The best solution and the one sanity should allow to emerge is Mandatory Managed Copy.

Don't get your undies in a bunchit only sounds restrictive.

With Managed Copy you buy the disc and watch it.

Want to play it on your TV top playerdone.

Send it around the house to watch everywheredone.

Need a copy to take with you in the car to shut the kids updone.

Take a copy on your next business flightdone.

There is even a formula for secure copy electronic distribution when the pipes beef up or you become a lot more patient.

Geethat works for content viewers and content owners!

Brings to mind Eleanor Holmes Norton's observation, "The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with."

Of course the AACS counter will be that all of those devious consumers are going to knock-off copies and give them to their friendsneighborsfamily members

Some might.

But 99.9% of us will do exactly what we did with our VHS tapes and DVDs.

You may like those folks but take the time/trouble/expense of ripping 2-3 copies?

Nope!

Oh sure Doom9ers and a few acne-infected kids might do it to make a few bucks.

But it will be awhile because the burners and recordable discs will be too expensive for at least another year.

Doom9ers will still claim that this is still overly restrictive of the content consumer's buy and should own.

Fact is they don't care a monkey's armpit about the consumer. Or the content owner.

All they want to do is brag about somethinganything!

Consumers?

All they want to do is buy, rent their movies and watch them where they wanthow they wantwhen they want.

By stirring up the waters with their hacking expertise around the AACS DRM before a gazillion HighDef players and discs were in the market, Doom9ers have made Tellywood and the PC/CE industry rethink their solution.

Managed Copy suddenly looks very appealing.

If and when the gentler, kinder solution is implemented, will the AACS lawyers still have a job?

Heythere are still plenty of fish in the sea.



New Feeding Grounds - When AACS realizes that it is time to rethink their DRM strategy and move to a solution that benefits everyone - including the consumer - they will be able to turn their attention to the pirates that follow along behind the studios' creative releases. There's still plenty of real fish out there.

They can turn on the pirates who quietly follow content producers who make the big bucks selling bootleg discs on the sidewalks, street corners and thru the mail.

If they snap up some Doom9er chum along the way?

Stuff happens!


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