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Macrovision Unveils New Copy Protection Suite
January 24, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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Whether we speak of SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative), CSS (Content Scrambling System) or SunnComm's MediaMax, the history of copy-protection technology is filled with a series of embarrassing setbacks. So much to the point when a typical file-trader is presented with the news that Macrovision has implemented a new copy-protection technology, the event is usually met with cynicism.

And why not, copy protection rarely works. When it does, the protection provided is very weak, to the extent that a 15 year old could probably defeat it. Wait a tic...

Our story begins in 1999, when a 15-year-old Norwegian programmer named Jon Lech Johansen defeated the DVD copy protection scheme dubbed CSS (Content Scrambling System.) At the time, no DVD media player existed for Linux machines. The small program that Jon created ripped the large VOB file contained on the DVD, by-passing the CSS protection. The program found its way online, and became known as DeCSS. To this day, it remains one of the foremost decrypting engines in the DVD copying market.

Defeating CSS took considerable knowledge and effort. Certainly four years of research and effort led to considerable advancement in copy-protecion technology to avoid an embarrassing repeat. Just do not tell that to the folks at SunnComm.

SunnComm is one of the leading companies in the United States that provide technology to protect CD's from unauthorized duplication. The flagship of SunnComm's CD protection suite was MediaMax CD-3. The scheme appeared to be effective, as large music lables such as BMG began adapting the technology.

However on October 16, 2003 John Halderman, a Princeton University student wrote an article that explained and exploited the weakness of MediaMax CD-3. Amazingly the technique used to defeat MediaMax CD-3 was so simplistic, it surprised nearly everyone. By pressing the "Shift" key while loading a CD (and disabling auto-run), MediaMax CD-3 did not function.

SunnComm was so enraged that it threatened legal action against John Halderman. In the press release issued by SunnComm, the company's CEO claimed their value dropped by $10 million. SunnComm later backed down after harsh criticism by advocates of Democracy.

So now we write the latest chapter of copy-protection attempts. Macrovision, another leading manufacturer of CD copy-protection software, has released their latest vision of Digital Rights Management utopia. In Cannes, France, Macrovision has revealed a suite of anti-P2P devices including the tough CDS-300 v8 copy protection software.

***Macrovision is pleased to demonstrate its world-class solutions aimed at reducing the substantial threat to world music sales, posed by P2P downloading and other forms of digital piracy," said Martin Brooker, director of sales, Macrovision. "By enabling labels and artists to safeguard the supply and distribution of their music content, Macrovision provides effective and commercially viable solutions to increase the demand for legitimate sources of music content and offset the revenue loss associated with unauthorized consumer CD ripping and unauthorized P2P file sharing, downloading and CD-R burning."***

Heralded as state-of-the-art, many feel this copy protection scheme will be a tough nut to crack. We will see.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: DRM

Macrovision's Homepage.

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