DRM Group Admits Impracticality, Not Its Technology, Stops Hi-Def DVD Copying

from the duh dept

Reports have been circulating online that the DRM used on both versions of high-definition DVDs had been cracked, and now the licensing group behind the copy-protection technology, called AACS, has confirmed it. The only interesting point of the confirmation is that the group's spokesman says that the large sizes of HD files and the high cost of writable HD DVD and Blu-ray discs makes copying the files impractical -- but that's something that's true with or without the DRM. We've long argued that DRM is pointless, not just from a business angle, but because it doesn't work. The AACS spokesman's comment essentially says that it's not the copy protection that will stop people from copying the movies, rather the simple impracticality of doing so. This is the same reason people continue to buy DVDs, even though their copy protection was cracked years ago. For most users, it's easier to simply go out and buy a DVD, rather than download a movie from the internet and screw around with converting it and burning it into a proper format. That's one example of how content companies already compete with free, even if they don't realize it, or simply won't admit it. Releasing the next-gen DVDs without DRM really won't dent sales, because all the movies are going to end up on file-sharing networks anyway. Leaving off the DRM will simply make it easier for legitimate customers to enjoy the content they've purchase in the way they want, although somehow we suspect that's not something the content companies really care about.


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  1.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:16am

    Yes, agree. The impracticality of copying HDTV comes from the huge bandwidth and massive file sizes.

    Look at it this way. Is size an asset for data? No. If I had the choice between a 100MB avi file and a 16GB HD movie I would choose the little avi file in most circumstances. I could watch it on a videopod/PDA, or on my computer. The HD movie is just too unwieldy. It will remain as a tangible artifact on a disc without me copying it because the disc already represents the optimal form for storage and portablility. It will also remain premium content for which I will pay if I like a film.

    The only reason I would copy it is for backup if the product is fragile or to hack it if the product is crippled with restrictions that make it hard for me to use it on another playback device or give it to a friend or family member to watch. The reports I have heard so far indicate HD/Blueray is far more robust than DVD regarding scratches and damage. In that sense DRM is now the sole cause of copying the disc.

     

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  2.  
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    Robb, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:51am

    not that impractical

    It's not going to be impractical for very long. We already have quad core processors and massive hard drives, and before long it won't be that big of a deal to copy 20 gb worth of data off of a high def source.

     

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  3.  
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    Alex Hagen, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:55am

    Put words in people's mouth much?

    "The AACS spokesman's comment essentially says that it's not the copy protection that will stop people from copying the movies, rather the simple impracticality of doing so."

    Wow, that is quite the...uhh...."interesting" interpretation of his comments. He is putting the best spin he can on it, that is for sure, but I doubt very seriously that he has given up on AACS, since they planned for this eventuality and can revoke the player key and make this hack useless. Your claiming victory against DRM still seems very premature.

     

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  4.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:56am

    history repeating itself

    the filesize of the WAV format made downloading CD's impractical on dialup connections... until the MP3, napster, and 768k broadband

    not to mention that in 1998 a CD burner was like $200. now they are less than $20.

    the filesize of the VOB format made downloading DVD's impractical until the divX, bittorrent, dvdShrink and 4 mbit broadband.

    not to mention that in 2002 DVD burners were like $300. now they are less than $30.

    the filesize of HD_whatever makes downloading HD content impractical... for like 4 years.

    in 5 years, when you can buy a 1TB harddisk for $100 and we have 24mbit broadband everywhere (except the states... but that's another rant) and a 40x HD/BluRay/Blah/bLah/blAh burner for $40 we will be going down this same road again.

    only, with any luck, media companies will say "screw it... physical formats are dead" and we will just get HD content on flash disks or streamed to us.

     

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  5.  
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    DittoBox, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    Down sampling?

    But one could downsample the ripped video to 720p or 480p and use xvid or something like that to compress it. It'll essentially compete in the same "market-space" as ripped DVDs, but with much higher quality.

    The file will be slightly larger but the quality difference will be quite noticeable.

     

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  6.  
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    Simon, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    The DRM is stopping me spending...

    Currently my home entertainment system consists of networked Xbox Media Center machines attached to a NAS server. I rip my DVD's to xvid and store them on the NAS. This is especially useful for the kid's DVD's as the 5 minutes it actually takes for a Disney title to actually get to the main feature is extremely annoying - and that's after I've found the disc, opened and loaded it.
    Until I can do that with one of the High Def formats, I'm not spending any money. Perversely I've also stopped buying regular DVD's as I have it in the back of my mind that I will upgrade at some point, and don't want to invest in anymore standard def media.

     

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  7.  
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    bryan, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 10:15am

    Re: Put words in people's mouth much?

    But I guarantee neither HD-DVD nor BlueRay want to revoke any keys. As soon as they do, the other one will be pointing out how the other one interfering with legitimate customers being the ones caused to suffer. It will be a PR nightmare.

    Not to mention, that DRM only hurts those it is "trying" to protect (by keeping the price of DVDs down...yeah...right). Revoking a key after something has been decrypted doesn't hurt the pirate...the pirate already has their unencrypted copy. It only hurts the legitimate user that doesn't understand their player not working until they download an updated key (or the retailers that face the return on merchandise that won't work out of the box).

     

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  8.  
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    Overcast, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    Yep, I agree 100% MH :)

    A Person I know is fond of downloading 'free' movies from the web - then after the download - spending an hour getting it ready to burn, and then an hour to burn. In the end, the results are shakey. Perhaps 30% of the downloaded/burnt DVD's work well. Most skip, jump, or otherwise have some sort of issues.

    While he's spending 3-4 hours to get a movie, I've already watched two.

    Heck - I can go to the local pawn shop and buy used movies for $3.00 a pop. Or I can view whatever - On-Demand for like $3.95~$7.95 ish.

    But, I still prefer to buy movies, as a matter of fact, I have no burnt movies, but I do have a few backups of stuff I already own.

    I am MORE inclined to buy a movie if I have a reasonable degree of faith I can keep it intact for a while. eg: Playing a backup copy, while the original sits on the shelf.

    The thing is - the guy I know that does this, is really too cheap to buy the movies anyway. But to me, time is a bit more valuable that money, to a degree. Actually a large degree. I feel like saving maybe $30.00 max - even if I buy a brand new DVD, collector's edition etc - it NOT worth 3-4 hours, at all.

    Anymore than it would be worth eating grass because it's cheaper than lettuce... lol. Of course, I could grow my own lettuce, but is it worth 99 cents at the grocery? So if I grow 30 heads of lettuce, I've saved 30 bucks. Yaaay. Of course, I've probably invested 10 hours of time : tilling, planting, maintaining, harvesting, washing, and picking through what's good and what's bad. Although, I guess like growing food, there's a percentage of people who find downloading movies, converting formats, optimizing, and burning to DVD fun...

    I like the quality of real DVD's, I can find other ways to be cheap. Like skipping potato chips at the store...

    To me, it'll remain unpractical to go through all those hassles to get a movie. Sure, I've been there and tried that, but I'd rather just BUY the movie and spend that extra time playing video games~~

    I hate hassles...... lol

     

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  9.  
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    misanthropic humansit, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    playing catch up

    Yes, I suppose it's stupid of me not to note that thechnology is going to catch up fast. After all I'm always saying how fast data storage is exploding.

    Perhaps the point is actually that we've reached the limits of what is good enough for practical purposes. Audio stopped with 44.1kHz CD/ 320mbs mp3, even though there are much higher sampling rates around in pro-audio tools the average person doesn't really care or notice the difference.

    If resolution is capped, presumably by our human sensory acuity, but storage and bandwidth continues to grow then that does change the equation. Nobody will want Blueray2 mega-high-def, it just won't have any additional value. So the media companies wont have anywhere to move in offering ever higher bandwidth, they will have to refocus on the product quality (artistic quality) at some point.

     

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  10.  
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    Forge, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 10:43am

    Re: Put words in people's mouth much?

    Excuse me sir, but your ignorance is showing.

    There is no one specific player key to revoke here. The hack is out of the box, and the movies that are cracked now stay cracked. While the MAFIAA can revoke every software player's key and thus close this hole, it also opens them to lawsuits out the wazoo and cuts their throats as far as getting the formats accepted.

    If they want to be DivX ;-), it's broken and they have to rely on unwieldy sizes to protect them.

    If they'd rather be DIVX, then like that expiring DVD format, their day is done and they're on the way to obsolescence and removal.

     

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  11.  
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    bmojo, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 11:05am

    They can save their money!

    I agree, people will always get around the DRM and its true, for most people its much more convenient to just go buy the DVD and pop it in.

    Realizing that, these companies could save some money/time by not putting in so much effort towards this DRM crap that will just get cracked anyway.

     

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  12.  
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    Delroy Nitz, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 11:15am

    download HD no big deal

    I've been downloading HD movies for two years now. Bandwidth is not an issue. Storage is not an issue. On a 5Mbit connection it might take a couple hours. Download a few flicks overnight or while at work.
    Downloading a 700meg divx movie is esentially video on demand. I can start watching it immediately in VLC and it's will be down downloading way before I catch up to it.
    This is all based on downloading from newsgroups of course. Bittorrent sucks.
    This type of content streaming is the future.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Overcast, why do you have to spend hours preparing the movie? I play my DivX/Xvids directly from the rarfiles on my XBMC on my LCD-screen....

    Also, for your HD-needs, the h.264 files are available in sizes smaller than a DVD, and quality is lots better.....

     

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  14.  
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    Poomer, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    ROFL

    Getting free advise in pirating technologies... ;-)
    har har

     

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  15.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 26th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Re: overcast

    THAT is how the media companies will compete with piracy.

    there is a proverb that i don't agree with that says: "linux is free only if your time is worthless"

    like i said, i don't agree, but it's certainly true of piracy... pirated media is free only if your time is worthless.

    i don't know where your friend gets his warez from, but he needs to either upgrade his sources or upgrade his toolkit :-)

    the point is that while there will always be a warez scene that deals in these sorts of goods... but there will also always be a market for convenience.

    in the past i have used this analogy:

    imagine a warehouse with a physical copy of everything ever made by all of humanity... every poem, book, song, movie, tv show, and game... everything from the earliest cave paintings to movies that are in theaters right now.

    now, expand that to 10 copies and give everything away... for free.

    now ask yourself... how big would that warehouse have to be? how easy would it be to find stuff with everyone scrambling to get thier hands on it. how easy would it be to get stuff out and into the hands of others?

    the answer: pretty freakin difficult.

    there is literally so much free stuff that you would have to pay someone to get it all for you.

    now, instead of physical copies, make them digital and instead of a warehouse, it's a random collection of websites of varying usefulness and usability, and instead of 10 copies of everyting, you have maybe 1 copy of 50% of what's been made in the last 6 months. that is the current warez scene for 90% of the world.

    it's only the hardcore warez d00dz that can get what they want in a reasonable amount of time, or even ahead of everyone else.

    that's why the chinese, indian and russian bootleg industry is thriving. people pay for already burnt discs (ABD) that are guaranteed to play.

    and that my friends is how you compete with free... by having everything in a universally workable format that is so easy to get and use that people will pay for the convenience.

    this is how bottled water works, and how the photo labs at your local drugstore can compete with printed photos at home.

    in america, our motto is "give me convenience or give me death".

     

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  16.  
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    Dave, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    False choice between downloading and copying

    Your article presents a false choice: You fail to consider a third alternative - renting and copying. This makes a decision much less certain...

    Do I rent and burn or do I purchase?

    If the truth were told, I bet that the studios are a little ambivalent about their relationship with folks like Netflix. They surely know what percentage of rentals result in pirated copies being made.

    I'd be willing to bet right now that many more movies are copied from rentals than are downloaded from sources like bittorrents. I'm also willing to bet that burning copies from rentals will increase precisely because fewer people will be willing to download an HD-DVD.

     

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  17.  
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    Alex Hagen, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Put words in people's mouth much?

    "There is no one specific player key to revoke here."

    Yes there is. They can revoke the player key used in this crack. Future copies of movies will have a different title key and will not work with that player key. All cracked copies will still be around, but new titles will be protected. There will be no lawsuits, since they have the right to revoke the player keys at will if a player does not live up it's agreement to protect them. People with that software player will be affected, everyone else will not be affected.

    "Excuse me sir, but your ignorance is showing."

    Um....yeah.

     

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  18.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    value of search

    now ask yourself... how big would that warehouse have to be? how easy would it be to find stuff with everyone scrambling to get thier hands on it. how easy would it be to get stuff out and into the hands of others?

    the answer: pretty freakin difficult.


    Agree. And that is one of the arguments put forward for one of the actual good reasons for record companies. They added value by search. Of course, as I've pointed out before, they abandoned that service when they started to manufacture acts rather than select them from the real world. It became the job of DJs to perform the value-by-search service at a much lower cost.

    To me, grubbing through bit torrent sites is not how I like to spend my time. There is a perfectly good DVD hire shop in my street, not even a chain like Blockbuster, just a small operator who is a Spanish dude with a lot of floor space. He is a goldmine of knowledge, a real movie buff. I can walk in and say "hmmm, Nico, it's got Bob Hoskins in it and he's a kind of driver for this prostitute.." and 10 seconds later Nico is up a ladder and 20 seconds later I am walking out of the store with a copy of Mona Lisa, which I didn't even know the title of, except that I saw the start of it once in 1987 and missed the ending because I had to get home.

    And when I finished watching it my connection is still free to play a few rounds of Unreal without a shitty ping.

     

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  19.  
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    ScytheNoire, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 11:56pm

    How to improve the MAFIAA companies

    here are what the RIAA and MPAA companies should have done...

    1) No DRM, it's a waste of money and only hurts the legit customers

    2) no lawsuits, it's just bad PR and again, only hurting their consumers

    3) agree on a new format standard, a single new format. having competing formats is a lose-lose situation, customers are scared to pick one or the other, because one will disappear. stupid.

    4) sell the new HD content at no more than 25% more than last gen content. if a DVD would sell for $20, then the HD content should be no more than $25.

    5) make next-gen players affordable, maybe start at $300 to $500, depending on the features. you make the real money from the content sales (think shaving sales, give away the razor, sell the blades).

    6) release content sooner after theatre release. no more than four to six months, while it's still fresh in peoples minds. screw the theatre, it's a dead format for the most part.

    7) sell universally formated online content without DRM, meaning it will work on any media player people want to use. this will force competition between media players not just in price, but also features. this will only benefit consumers.

    8) increase security at manufacturing plants. 99% of online DVD-Rips come from manufacturing plants or people inside the industry. it's your own employees releasing the content.

    9) give the customers more. DVD sales increased so much because they offered DVD Extra's. people love the extra's. just releasing a music is not good enough, you need to also include music videos, band interviews, making of the CD, etc.

    10) stop trying to control the content. you are in sales and marketing, not content control. you cannot control it, you can only promote and sell it.

     

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  20.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 27th, 2007 @ 2:41am

    Re: How to improve the MAFIAA companies

    That sounds too much like a good business plan Scythe. It would require a forward looking attitude and some measure of business sense to appreciate. Unfortunately it's lost on the MAFIAA creeps who are no more than a bunch of sociopaths and weasel lawyers out to screw the industry out of every last penny before they siphon the money offshore and move on to wreak another sector.

     

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  21.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Jan 29th, 2007 @ 4:55pm

    Revoke the player kay

    THis won't be sucessfull, since all that needs too be done is supply a fill-in-the-blanks copy of the source code. Alternaltively, wait until a HDTV breaks, and take out the HDMA cuircitry and fit it into a box to plug into the video in of a graphics card. Then you're laughing, and it would be hard to find out which player key to revoke.

     

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  22.  
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    Jimmy, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 4:21pm

    It's not just getting it for free

    A bit off subject but close enough since it concerns piracy. It's not just that the pirates get something for free, they actually get a better product!
    There are probably many people out there who would be more than happy to pay for music, movies, etc but with it comes the burden of limited playback options or the burden of removing the copy encryption.
    I don't pirate for several reasons but, when I have to place a game disk into my computer with a large HDD, when I can't just import my itunes songs into my MP3 player, when I can't take a dvd and convert it into the format that works with my cell phone, when I have to sit through 5 minutes of anti-piracy warnings or worse- advertisements that won't let me skip them; it makes me fully support the pirates. Why? Because they actually get a better product in the end than those of us who pay for it.

     

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  23.  
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    Jacob Buck, Oct 6th, 2007 @ 1:31am

    Re:

    The guy you know must not be that smart. spending 3-4 hours converting movies while you're watching some! Anyone with brains should be able to...i dont know... automate a process like that so one could press a button and let it run itself while you do something else....like watch the last couple movies you burned. But wait! then he'd be watching movies like you! and burning more! amazing!

     

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  24.  
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    Rekrul, Dec 31st, 2007 @ 6:07am

    Why spend ANY time converting a downloaded movie? Just watch the AVI file on your monitor. If you REALLY need/want to watch it on a big-screen TV, buy a video card with a video out jack. Or buy a DivX certified DVD player and just burn the AVI files to a disc.

     

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