"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
"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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