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osOpinion: Cronus Overthrown: a perspective on CSS and SDMI

Feb 07, 2000, 08:33 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Matthew Hiller)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"This essay discusses the DVD media format -- a video format promoted by the corporations that make up the Motion Picture Association of America and protected by an industry group called the DVD Copy Control Association -- and the controversy that has enveloped the recent cryptanalysis of DVD's Content Scrambling System (CSS). It also discusses the Secure Digital Music Initiative, an important component of the Recording Industry Association of America's response to the MP3 phenomenon...."

"Efforts to control the redistribution of home entertainment are likewise doomed to long-term failure, at least in the context of the developed world's present sociolegal systems*. The reason is simple: no matter how many encryption and authentication measures and so on are packed into the recording industry's products, when it comes time to use them their content needs to be fully available to the output devices -- the CRT, the speakers, whatever. There will always be a way to tap into that stream just before it hits the output devices and to save off the bits as they come down the line...."

"The only question remaining: what do the courts think of the DVD CCA's allegation that this cryptanalysis and its results are illegal? Much legal precedent seems to support the defendants. U.S. law has a long history of supporting the legality of clean-room reverse engineering. It does not have such a history of enforcing the terms of end user license agreements, whether or not they contain provisions forbidding reverse engineering (which Xing's did). The main threat seems to come from the content-control provisions of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright act, though some people contend that these provisions curtail free speech and are thus unconstitutional."

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