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Custom DVDs & Players For Academy Members 266

Posted by timothy
from the hubris-is-catchy dept.
xyankee writes "In an effort to curtail the piracy and bootlegging of DVD screeners, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has endorsed a plan to distribute about 6,000 special DVD players to members that will play specially encrypted screener discs that would be earmarked for a specific academy voter and would play only on that person's machine. The Associated Press has the full story, while Laurence Roth, VP and co-founder of Cinea, Inc., the company behind the technology, says 'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'"
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Custom DVDs & Players For Academy Members

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  • by thryllkill (52874) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:50AM (#9605066) Homepage Journal
    Cause it's not like the original DVDs were encrypted against hacking either.
    • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sploo22 (748838) <dwahler.gmail@com> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:00AM (#9605115)
      Here's a list of the flaws in CSS:

      1. DVDs have one key for the disc, which is encrypted about 400 different times. One of the basic rules of cryptography is that you NEVER encrypt the same thing with different keys.

      2. The DVD players are publicly available, so it's not too hard to take out a ROM chip and analyze it.

      3. The key size was only 40 bits.

      Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption. It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what the quote said.
      • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by throwaway18 (521472) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:06AM (#9605128) Journal
        One of the basic rules of cryptography is that you NEVER encrypt the same thing with different keys.

        No it isn't. You are half remembering the rule for one time pads (not any time of encryption) that you should never use the a one time pad twice.
        • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sploo22 (748838)
          Sorry, you're right. What I was actually thinking of was never getting cryptanalysts get their hands on both the plaintext and ciphertext. IIRC, that was the main way the Enigma machine was cracked for example. Obviously, though, it's not very applicable to DVDs.
        • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DrXym (126579) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:37AM (#9605214)
          But which academy member would risk selling / giving away discs if it was encrypted to them? Which academy member would even give someone a tape recording of the disc when that too would very likely be watermarked? Even the latter on its own would be an effective deterrent.


          I suggest that if the academy is prepared to swallow the expense of handing out the players (+ the bitching of members who have to play movies on it when their home cinema systems already has a player), they'll have a very workable security system.

          • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:3, Informative)

            by rew (6140)
            That's what they did last year. IIRC the traced perpretator claimed his son stole/copied the DVD....
        • I may very well be talking out my ass here, but wouldn't 400 different keys mean that you could factor out any one of them, making it 400 times easier to crack?
      • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wfberg (24378)
        Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption. It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what the quote said.

        It gets easier the more discs you have, though, since then you end up in the realm of differential cryptanalysis.

        Also, they seem to be most worried about the academy members themselves - and they still get to see the movies (plaintext!). Even if they're mostly worried about academy member's evil nieces
        • 3 acedemy members acting in cahoots can also defeat watermarking efforts - simply compare the three streams and throw away any artifacts that appear in only 1 stream.

          Or replace with white noise :) Get enough samples and you might be able to work out the watermarking algorithm.

          This would probably be even easier to do when you (have to) depend on analogue outputs. It only makes the challenge greater.

          How many "waterwatermarking" schemes will actually survive lossy compression and/or multiple D->A->
        • Re:Riiiiight.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Thagg (9904)
          My guess for the watermarking is that there won't be just a few artifacts -- that every bit of every image will be affected in a subtle way.

          That said, it is probably true that the watermarking could be defeated with access to several of the players. It would take a serious effort, at least as serious as what Felton and his group at Princeton put into cracking the audio watermarking scheme a few years ago. As you recall, he had the advantage that the watermarking scheme was disclosed very completely in a
      • Suppose this new system has only one key per disc, coded for a particular private player, using 256-bit Rijndael encryption.

        It would probably be easier to use a public key encryption algorithm. Player contains the private key, disk creation is done with the public key. The difficult bit is the distribution, since making sure 6,000 pieces of physical media wind up where they should go is rather more difficult than using PGP/GPG for email.

        It will indeed be uncrackable given only the disc, which is what th
      • It it was unbreakable, then you wouldn't be able to watch the DVD.

        You can watch the DVD, so it much be breakable, even if it means putting a video camera in front of the TV screen.
      • by crbowman (7970)
        One of the basic rules of cryptography is that you NEVER encrypt the same thing with different keys.


        I thought it was never get into a land war in Asia, and only slightly less famous is never get into a battle of witts with a Sicillian when death is on the line.
    • PGP style (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gilesjuk (604902)
      They're using private, public key encryption. While this isn't impossible to crack can you imagine how long it will take to decode the data on a DVD? The film will be available to buy by the time you manage to crack it.
      • Re:PGP style (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Manip (656104)
        True. But keep in mind you don't need to crack the encryption, just reverse engineer the player.
        • Re:PGP style (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gilesjuk (604902)
          Even if you manage to get a player that would only then give you access to one of the encyption keys. Each member will he using their own code.
  • lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toraz Chryx (467835) <jamesboswell@btopenworld.com> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:51AM (#9605071) Homepage
    "the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked."

    Setting themselves up for a MONSTROUS fall there...
    • Re:lol (Score:2, Interesting)

      by afay (301708)
      Well, actually, if each disc is only meant to play on one specific player that they distribute, it would be incredibly easy to make it "unhackable". Just use a shared key encryption scheme. The only way it could be "hacked" is if you found a way to extract the shared key from the hardware dvd player or the shared key for a specific player was leaked mpaa. That could happen, but it's not to likely. And if you managed to come by one of these disc, it would really be impossible to hack (at least without incred
      • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Angstroem (692547) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:21AM (#9605174)
        The only way it could be "hacked" is if you found a way to extract the shared key from the hardware dvd player or the shared key for a specific player was leaked mpaa. That could happen, but it's not to likely.
        Oh, sure. Never ever did any vital information leave a company which built their business model on a very algorithm, or from the company which created the security model for them.

        You might not be aware of this, but one reason for certain pay TV stations being hacked as easily as it was (and I'm not talking about analog "encryption") was that sufficient information leaked.

        And as stated elsewhere: There's still the analog output. Sure, they might put have in some watermarking. They most likely did. But I frankly doubt that there is something like *robust* watermarking for audio and video without significantly impair the signal quality, thus causing noticeable artefacts. (If there is, I'd love to see a pointer to scientifical papers, cause I'm quite interested in such methods myself.)

        • Re:lol (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sancho (17056) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:53AM (#9605283) Homepage
          It CAN contain noticeable artifacts. In fact, lots of movies these days have noticeable artifacts. You might occasionally see something in the middle part of the screen that looks like several little burns or dark spots. Those are watermarks used to keep track of what theater a film is being shown in. If it's good enough for the public, it's good enough for the Academy, who they aren't even trying to make money off of. Remember, we're talking specially coded DVDs here. They could just insert the Academy member's name at the bottom of each frame on the DVD as a "watermark" so they would be able to tell who leaked it.
    • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:58AM (#9605100) Homepage Journal
      why hack when they can just get it analogically off the disc in extremely high quality as well?

      somebody just invented a good way to milk money off from mpaa..
      .
      • Re:lol (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BitchAss (146906)
        Yup - someone's making a ton of money and it's not the mpaa.

        Cinea will invest several million dollars to make and distribute the DVD players to academy members and possibly to movie critics and other awards groups.

        So, wait. The mpaa has millions to spend on this new way to prevent piracy? I thought they were losing money out the ass! (they'll have to reimburse Cinea somehow - so the mpaa is really paying the millions for the DVD players and the encryption)

        Sounds like they need to read this [craphound.com].
    • CSS was a pathetic algorithm written by incompetent cryptographers (after the one compromised key was found, the entire cryptosystem collapsed). Not to mention being hamstrung by 40 bits max.

      I'm sure that this time around they use a proper algorithm like AES at 128 bit+. Good luck breaking that with the discs by themselves. Unless you have access to one of the 6000 players as well, it's not going to happen.

      With that said, they DO have access to the players, and even if not, they can compare several waterm
      • Re:Not really... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cpghost (719344)

        How secure is AES 128+ bits anyway? MPEG streams have a pretty regular pattern that offers a lot hints to cryptanalysts. I wouldn't bet on the security of a system that encrypts 2-8 GB of data with such a regular pattern!

        • Re:Not really... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ckwop (707653)

          How secure is AES 128+ bits anyway? MPEG streams have a pretty regular pattern that offers a lot hints to cryptanalysts. I wouldn't bet on the security of a system that encrypts 2-8 GB of data with such a regular pattern!

          If I gave you the transcript of everything ever said by every human that has ever lived and encrypted it with a random key and gave you the resulting cipher-text you'd still have to try 2^127 keys on average to recover the key .Knowing patterns in the plain-text doesn't help you at all!

      • Re:Not really... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ummit (248909)
        I'm sure that this time around they use a proper algorithm...

        Why are you so sure?
        Time and again people have chosen laughably weak crypto algorithms and then plastered them with impressive-sounding quotes like "the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked."

        They might have used a decent algorithm. But I'd put the odds at only about 50/50.
        The OP is right; they're really setting themselves up for a fall.

    • Re:lol (Score:2, Funny)

      by sentientbeing (688713)
      Actually, all a pirate would need is a fastscan wide screen TV and a video camera to make a distributable copy.

      They could sit at the end of the room and just rip it straight to DVD-R from the camera.

      For the authenticity of a cinema rip however, it would be necessary to have people walk past the TV eating popcorn every few minutes, slurping sprite and coughing regularly through the soundtrack.

      It would be a trivial task to add out of focus Japanese subtitles later using a standard mpeg editor.
    • Re:lol (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Can someone explain why you couldn't just record the output from the special DVD player? You would still have to worry about the watermarking, but that's not so hard, if oyu can get two or more disks.
  • how long (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Janek Kozicki (722688)
    oh, this is mandatory:
    how long till the "discs that cannot be hacked themselves" will be hacked?

    two hours, or two weeks? (remember de-CSS code printed on t-shirts?)
    • Re:how long (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:40AM (#9605228) Homepage Journal
      I think that goes along the lines of, if the software on the machine can decode it, someone else's software can do it too. :)

      They story says that they'd have on-screen indications of who's tape it was too. Probably something along the lines of a text across the screen somewhere saying "Screener serial# 123456".

      Making a new disk isn't impossible. I've been toying with my DirecTiVo. It has wonderful outputs to go to my receiver, but not really good outputs for recording. I bought a DVD recorder, and got creative with the wiring. Now I get S-Video in, but I'm still lacking on the audio. The DirecTiVo has the choices of digital fiber optic, or L&R RCA jacks, and the DVD recorder doesn't have a digital fiber input (I couldn't find any with that). It still makes very nice DVD's.

      Once I make the DVD, it's not a really hard task to take the resulting disk and edit as needed, such as blocking over whatever is indicating who's disk it is. That may be an unreasonable task, if the text is in the middle of the screen.

      I can't imagine too many Academy Awards judges wanting to go through all the bother to release a bootlegged video though. I think their trouble comes when they loan it to friends, who make copies for friends, who make copies for friends (etc, etc).

      It still doesn't remove the possibility of a slightly corrupt theater manager setting up a digital video camera in the booth beside the projector and hooking into their sound board, and getting an almost perfect copy of a movie though. They could still get a movie on the Internet the night before it's released to theaters.

      • I'd say the watermarking would be a lot more subtle than "screener #2232" but I imagine it would have that too, so people cut it out and think "hey, I beat the watermark"

        Say you've got 16 scenes that aren't critcally timed. You delay the cut on some of them by 10 frames, not on others. That's a simple way to encode 16 bits of information into the film, and without multiple copies and a fair bit of time you'd never notice it. Encode the same 16 bits 4 times on 64 scene changes, and you've got redundancy. Or
  • Security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sploo22 (748838) <dwahler.gmail@com> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:52AM (#9605074)
    I think this has quite a good chance of being secure. With such a small number of players that aren't publicly available, and with no need for backward compatibility, they can throw in more DRM than you can shake a stick at. Heck, it even appears to record on the disc each time you play it.
    • Re:Security (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sam3.14 (792129)
      They will definitely be more secure than normal ones, but I'm sure people will manage to copy them. Why not just plug the output cables of the DVD player into a recording device and let it run.
    • Re:Security (Score:3, Interesting)

      by paul.schulz (75696)
      This is an example where an open source solution
      may actually benefit everyone..

      - DVD player running uClinux, enabled with
      - GPG private/public keys, and a
      - Web of Trust of the
      Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

      This would enable encryped DVDs to be distributed
      securely. What happens after they are decrypted
      and played .. well, thats up to how much they
      trust the people with the screener DVD's.

    • Re:Security (Score:5, Insightful)

      by droleary (47999) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @09:02AM (#9605317) Homepage

      I think this has quite a good chance of being secure.

      Anybody that starts with that assumption, or the stated and equally unlikely "cannot be hacked" has already lost whatever battle they imagined they were fighting. There are probably more holes in making the discs than there are in distributing them. How many hands does a film pass through before it even gets to be a master copy waiting to be encrypted?

      • Anybody that starts with that assumption, or the stated and equally unlikely "cannot be hacked" has already lost whatever battle they imagined they were fighting.

        You'd think someone would have learned from RMS Titanic (the ship, not the movie).

        There are probably more holes in making the discs than there are in distributing them. How many hands does a film pass through before it even gets to be a master copy waiting to be encrypted?

        You've also got the same issues surrounding the manufacturing of the DV
  • Alirght (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:52AM (#9605075) Journal
    Laurence Roth, VP and co-founder of Cinea, Inc., the company behind the technology, says 'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'

    Someone give that Johanson kid a call.

    • Re:Alirght (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Johanson himself admitted that he didn't hack that DVD thingy, he just wrote the program and made it available. Actual haking was made by some dude in Germany.
  • by CdBee (742846) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:52AM (#9605077)
    If it has a video-out port, it can be used to copy the disk. Unless they plan on shipping integrated DVD players with a built-in screen it's not going to work.
  • One word... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by randomErr (172078) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hcsok.nivre]> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:52AM (#9605078) Homepage Journal
    Analog. Plug a VCR into the analog out and a $30 'video stabelizer' and you got a copy.
  • by Chicane-UK (455253) <chicane-uk AT ntlworld DOT com> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:52AM (#9605079) Homepage
    ..the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked..

    I hope that quote gets used a little later on down the line, when some 14 year old writes a few lines of code that circumvents yet another uncrackable encryption / protection system...
  • ha. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Heem (448667) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:53AM (#9605081) Homepage Journal
    "'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'"

    uh huh.

    In related news, "That gun isn't loaded" , "The dog doesnt bite" and "The Titanic is unsinkable"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:55AM (#9605085)
    You figure they would have done this straight out, instead of just shotgunning the discs out to everybody. Everybody wins - the voters get to watch the discs whenever they want, without having to deal with some crazy 24-hour mission impossible self-destructing DVD, the Academy is reasonably sure that some random relative won't be copying discs to put online, and they managed to do it without having to buy off any new politicians to pass another law restricting everybody's rights.

    Yes, it isn't foolproof, but at least they're trying a reasonable solution, instead of poking everybody's eyes out with lawyers.
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:55AM (#9605088)
    Why go to such lengths; didn't they catch someone last year using only simple watermarking? Is there any conclusive evidence that the academy members are responsible for enough piracy to make this worthwhile?

    Of course, they could just say they were doing this, and then send everyone an el-cheapo DVD player with a special decal on the front. That might be enough to psych out someone.

    • Catching someone isn't as good as preventing from doing it in the first place, of course. It takes time and money to investigate and trace a watermark back to a person, no matter how easy the process.
    • It would be trivial to create more efficient watermarking schemes. From what I have read, watermarking has been done on a rather amateurish way. They should get experts in information theory to devise better encoding. However, the true problem may not be protecting a limited edition of 6000 DVD's, the problem is how to control a commercial release of millions of DVD's. In this regard, those special DVD's won't help either. Perhaps nothing short of a new business model for the entertainment industry will do.
  • by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:59AM (#9605104)
    but, wasn't decss possible only because one software player left its key out in the open? Seems to me you'd need to get hold of one of those special players if you were going to crack their partner discs.
    • by Pedrito (94783) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:33AM (#9605205) Homepage
      but, wasn't decss possible only because one software player left its key out in the open? Seems to me you'd need to get hold of one of those special players if you were going to crack their partner discs.

      That was how decss was cracked, but it wasn't possible only because of that. There are other methods. This was simply a very convenient one to take. It would have been cracked eventually anyway.
  • by jedrek (79264) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:59AM (#9605108) Homepage
    Do you belive you can take 6000 people of any group and find one that isn't just flat out dirty and corrupt, or at the very least, easily corruptable? Or that many Academy members won't want to hook up a special DVD player each time they watch a movie? Remember, the studios want as many Academy members as they can to watch each movie, because only that gives them a shot of getting awarded. Every 'problem' a given member has with seeing a movie will reduce its chances come Oscar night.

    These are all bandaids on a huge wound.
    • Yes, I think they want to hook up a special player if it becomes the standard routine for DVD screeners. At least I would if I were to review those movies. It's not like no one would pay me for it.

      Every 'problem' a given member has with seeing a movie will reduce its chances come Oscar night.

      You're assuming that only a select few will be encrypted like this -- I was immediately thinking all of the screeners distributed would. Then no special movie would suffer from any disadvantage.

      Is it such a big de
      • Members of the Academy aren't geeks, they're not technical people, they're movie people. Most probably have home movie systems built by pros, all they do is put the movie in. Hell, they probably get brightness/contrast/etc set up by experts too.

        The thing is, when you're trying to get your critically acclaimed lower-budget movie into the oscars, do you go with the encrypted screeners? No, you release an unencrypted screener, and everybody sees it. Boom, you've got an underdog success... and we're back to e
        • Going off topic a bit, but unless you yourself are an ISF certified expert you really should have your brightness/contrast/etc. and indeed your entire system calibrated by an expert. This can be an expensive process lasting many hours, but if you've got the money for it and a display worth spending that kind of money on calibrating it really is the correct thing to do.
    • Of course you can - because most of them are decept people who only get paid ONCE for a movie - its just a tiny group who keep getting paid over and over and over for a job done once. They are rich. The others, not so much.
      • most of them are decept people who only get paid ONCE for a movie - its just a tiny group who keep getting paid over and over and over for a job done once. They are rich. The others, not so much.

        And how many among those 6000, who are has-beens with an expensive coke habit and a penchant for high-priced hookers, will have a problem with letting somebody hack their copy and dvd player?

  • On Hacking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by condensate (739026) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @07:59AM (#9605109)
    All the previous posts have been about hacking or not hacking a DVD. Come on, we know that!!! Nothing is ever secure from hacking, so why the fuss about it.

    I thin this is the beginning of a new stratagem: In principle one could sell DVD players with individual signatures that can somehow burn a tag on an individual DVD, which makes it impossible to be read and played by any other player. Now THAT's DRM for you.

  • duh... (Score:2, Funny)

    whats it now..the alt key or the ctrl key?
  • by N8F8 (4562) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:08AM (#9605134)
    If the device is capable of outputting a standard video sognal for display on a monitor, encrypting the disc is almost pointless. The correlation between video quality and bootlegging worthiness is small. People in third world countries routinely rent movies filmed with handheld cameras- audience noise, mysterious shadows and crappy acoustics, etc.
  • Ka-ching (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grrr (16449) <cgrrr @ g r r r . n et> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:20AM (#9605168) Homepage Journal
    Cinea will invest several million dollars to make and distribute the DVD players to academy members and possibly to movie critics and other awards groups.

    Your movie-ticket dollars at work.

    Just give 'em a private streaming video website...

    <grrr>
  • by doktorstop (725614) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:24AM (#9605179) Homepage Journal

    DRM... MacroVision... special players & MAYBE one day special TVs... totally useless as long as the ultimate goal is to watch the movie... with unprotected human eyes

    just take a digital camera, point it at the TV screen... et voila! Sure, won't be DVD quality, but, in home conditions, the quality will beat telesync =)

  • Because if we know anything its that all dvd encryption is UNBREAKABLE and will protect the data forever and ever.
  • Cheaper solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Megane (129182) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:31AM (#9605197) Homepage
    Dig up 6000 old DIVX (the dead Circuit City DIVX) players, and make discs for them.

    I don't really see why they need to go to the trouble of making each disc specific to one player, because that would just increase the cost of making a run of discs. There really shouldn't be a problem with playing a disc on another member's player. Adding a unique watermark to each player though, that shouldn't be much of a problem. But watch them screw things up so that the player firmware can be copied to a budget player.

    • by Fubar411 (562908) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:42AM (#9605240)
      1) No one has ever successfully cracked the scheme. 2) The players could easily be manufactured again 3) The dial-up "feature" can be used to verify the academy award members are the ones watching the movie. I hated DIVX when it came out, but I can understand the studios wanting to protect their content, at least until the movie is out of the theatres. I can wait for the DVD like a good consumer, no need to pay bootleggers for someone elses work. Unless it is the original Star Wars DVD when Han shoots first.
  • by innot (582843) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:41AM (#9605232)
    The studios would be expected to pay for a machine to encode its discs and a licensing fee to use Cinea's anti-piracy technology.

    "So you are a small indie studio with that incredible good movie (just picked up all prizes in the european festivals).
    Sorry, if you can't pay a few megabucks for the license & machines and some more kilobucks for making a few thousand individual watermarked DVDs, then the academy award is not for you.

    We hope for your understanding, but we have to protect the interests of our good clients from the MPAA who are in in for business and have no problem of paying these small academy consideration fees. Thank you!

    Best Regards,
    Mr. Big Boss of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
    • yup, the real reason for this change is to raise the barrier for entry into the movie biz, the advent of quality digital video and highspeed internet scares the MPAA shitless.
    • The studios would be expected to pay for a machine to encode its discs and a licensing fee to use Cinea's anti-piracy technology.

      "So you are a small indie studio with that incredible good movie (just picked up all prizes in the european festivals). Sorry, if you can't pay a few megabucks for the license & machines and some more kilobucks for making a few thousand individual watermarked DVDs, then the academy award is not for you.

      Only if they make it a requirement that you must distribute your movie

  • by sllim (95682) <achanceNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:45AM (#9605251)
    'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'

    You gotta be kidding. If I were some sort of technology bigwig and I wanted to buy a product and someone said those words to me I would do an about face and try real hard to not let the door hit my ass on the way out.

    I would be much more impressed with the figures of what it would take to hack the discs. Cause in my opinion - encryption is made to be broken.

    Now if he is saying that it cannot legally be hacked. Well that is probably true....
  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:49AM (#9605266) Homepage Journal
    First, everyone is saying this is useless because the movie can still be copied. That is not the point. People, think about what the academy is trying to prevent. They are trying to prevent the DVD from walking out of of someones house and appearing on the street where just anyone can play the DVD. This sytem effectively crushes the market for Academy DVD.

    My understanding is that the DVD and player are matched. Each DVD can only be played on one player. This means that even if a DVD escapes, it likely cannot easily be played elsewhere. If a copy of the movie is made, then it was probably off the Academy Member's machine, and there is probably some way to identifiy the member based on artifacts within the movie.. This is quite different from the current situation in which a member can just claim that the disk was 'lost',

    And yet one must wonder about the reason to go through such expense. Buying $6,0000 customizable DVD player that are hardened against attack cannot be cheap. Making sure that none of the unassigned DVD players hit the street must be expensive. Producing 60000 custom DVD cannot be cheap. From a bidness point of view, is there a real ROI from these costs? The theaters continue to rack up sales at astronimical rates. DVD sales continue at equal an equal nerve wrenching pace. But for some reason the Academy wants to concentrate on the management of custom DVD players rather than the creative act of making film. Madness.

    • They say their prices are appropriate, yet they are profiting enough off of their little ventures to pursue silly interests like this. I am now convinced that we pay way too much to go to the movies. :-P
  • Translation... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jridley (9305) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @08:51AM (#9605273)
    the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.

    He let something slip right there. My guess is that they're using a much longer encryption key, and that the key is not stored on the disc, but in the player. So to crack as easily as CSS was cracked you'd have to disassemble the player as well, and even that might not help unless you can read the code out from the inside of the chip, which may or may not be possible.

    While nothing's "uncrackable", a disc encrypted with a 256-bit key that you don't have would take a while. And even if you did crack it, the odds are that the contents is watermarked, and they'd know who the release came through, and prosecute him. Then you'd have to get another source for the next disc.

    Bottom line would be, you'd not get any more discs, if everyone who supplied a review copy to pirates got busted immediately. And that's assuming they CAN be hacked.
  • Isn't it possible to route the output of the DVD unit to another recorder that would burn the film onto [video] tape or DVD? I am sure the graphics guys at the GIMP and MPlayer can find ways arround this new preventive measure.
    • Isn't it possible to route the output of the DVD unit to another recorder that would burn the film onto [video] tape or DVD?
      One of the S-View features is the ability to disable the player's analog outputs. Presumably this means that the players have integrated displays, reducing the possibilities to a cam job.
  • Lets put in GPS trackers in those players so we know for sure that they're in their intended location.
  • "the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked"

    In other words it just takes one unscrupulous reviewer with a disc and a machine; to duplicate the film using the audio and video out connectors. Great for the companies that are heralding this technology; but in practice it is going to do little to curtail piracy; lets face it most of the decent pre-release films on the net have come from someone inside the business;
  • It's been pointed out and proven time and again that technology does not stop piracy.
    A smarter move would be to offer the customer something extra that the pirates would find much harder to offer.
    How about a few little freebies to go with the actual DVD? A free poster or stickers, interactive content such as a mini-game (which wouldn't be copied using the method of copying the film via a video-output or using a videocamera), a username and password to the official website so you can access online content an
  • Someone is seriously underestimating the quality of our geniuses today. If something can be assembled, and can be disassembled. If there is a code or chip or electronic key to make something work, it can be hacked. Anyone who attempts to develop technologies to prevent this from happening is wasting their time and money, because we'll just work around it. They need to start pursuing this from some other angle... like learning to profit from the free distribution of their copyrighted works.
    • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Sunday July 04, 2004 @11:05AM (#9605794) Homepage Journal
      There is one and only one way that I could possibly see that you could make an "unhackable" DVD disc.

      It is called "One-Time Pad encryption", and is what the NSA and CIA use when they really are paranoid about somebody trying to read some of their communications. Basically, you get a random noise source (often background microware radiation hiss or even more often some radioactive source and using the unpredictible nature of individual decay particles, that way producing true random numbers) and then with that source of numbers you produce something that would go into a custom player. Each person with this special player could recieve discs that could only be played on that individual player, and anybody else would litterally see just random noise on an individual DVD-disc.

      Now here is the nasty part of that system: If you produce more than one DVD using the same one-time pad, the code can be cracked. That is why it is called one-time pad, because once used it can never be used again. The NSA has usually a pile of CD-ROMs or DVDs with these codes on them (or some other digital medium), and they burn/destroy the discs as soon as they use one, with a duplicate of that disc available with the person sending/receiving a message, who either decodes/encodes the data and then similary destroys the disk.

      Now a modified version of this could in theory be able to stop a random hacker from getting a disc from the U.S. Postal Service and decoding it, but there is still one more place of vunerability:

      The player itself must decode the movie. I think most Academy members would object to the disc being destroyed in the process of watching it (perhaps they got a phone call in the middle of watching a scene and want to back it up for a moment to catch what was going on), and then there is one other vunerability.

      The movie must be viewed at some point, and regardless of what other encryption schemes are done, it must be decoded to some very simple colorspace (RGB or with video usually YUV triplet pixel values) that can then be displayed on some viewing system. The whole point of this is that Robert Redford or Tom Hanks can watch a nominated movie at home, in their underware, whenever or however they feel like it. Or with a few friends if they so choose. Even then what is stopping somebody from pulling out a camcorder and filming the TV/projection screen that is showing the movie, and don't get me to rattle on about Macrovision or watermarking... that doesn't work and ruins the image anyway.

      I gave the most plausable system from somebody who has worked with multimedia systems before, and even with this hyper-paranoid system it can still be cracked.

      Copyright violation acts are an inner ethics issue, like not killing somebody or not shoplifting. Some things can be done to help discourage breaking the law or stopping people from doing things like this, but if you are really interested in accomplishing the goal (like killing the President of the USA), there really isn't anything that can be done to stop it from happening. All security does in these cases is to simply put up "speed bumps" to make it harder to accomplish, and weed out the rank amatures from the professionals. Unfortunately in this world there are people who totally lack ethics and would do anything and say anything, sometimes just for fun, like feeding your grandmother to the Ravanous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @10:16AM (#9605556)
    It seems that everyone believes the point is that it might not be completely secure. BIG DEAL. The point is that the DVD's can't just be loaned out. Remember how the hulk was copied. A screener dvd, (one that was watermarked), was lent to a friend who decided no-one would catch him if he uploaded it. He was caught but that doesn't help that the movie was uploaded. I'd say the screeners are probably fairly trustworthy. This will 1: Keep them from loaning their disks out, (which is most likely the primary concern) and 2: make it a little tougher so that if their friend in batswana sais, "Hey, I'd REALLY like to see that", they can't say, "well, ok, let me copy it and send it over". Instead when a friend wants to watch it they'll go, "I'm sorry, it only works on my dvd player. Do you want to come over and watch it?" Yes, if they want to distribute a copy of it, they'll probably be able to, but I doubt thats the problem.
  • 'the discs, by themselves, cannot be hacked.'... Except by a hacker.
  • If so, they can be copied...

    Sheesh, if these industires would put 1/2 the funds they waste with this garbage into creating better products and lowering costs, their troubles would go away...
  • That is why they are passing laws like the DMCA that make certain skills illegal.

    Unless they want to pay $millions and millions of dollars to constantly upgrade, re-engineer and upgrade this stuff on an annual (or even more frequent) basis, common PC computer technology will out accelerate it and eventually make it possible for Joe Hacker with his dual-core Athlon 64 PC that he has less than $1,000 in to crack the disc's encryption.
  • Every time... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveCBio (659840) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @12:40PM (#9606498)
    Someone says a tech cannot be hacked it creates a challenge. I think you are better off not trying to say you have the ultimate encryption.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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