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Blu-ray adopts content protection

Posted: 16 Sep 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:blu-ray disc association? dvd forum? rom mark? advanced access content system? aacs?

The Blu-ray Disc Association has given the thumbs-up to a content-protection scheme for its flavor of next-generation DVDs in a move that may prompt the rival DVD Forum to come up with one of its own. The association has added the so-called BD+ and ROM Mark technologies to its format, and is also expected to adopt the advanced access content system (AACS). The DVD Forum relies solely on the AACS to provide content protection for its competing hd-dvd format.

BD+ and the ROM Mark are enhancements that are specific to the Blu-ray format. BD+ governs content-protection renewability, which allows the player to fix or compensate for security flaws. The ROM Mark is designed to guard against pirates intent on mass-producing and selling unauthorized copies of pre-recorded media.

The ROM Mark is a unique and undetectable identifier embedded in pre-recorded ROM media such as movies, music and games. While invisible to consumers, the ROM Mark can be mastered only with equipment available to licensed BD-ROM manufacturers. The Blu-ray Disc Association intends to ensure that only disks that contain the ROM Mark will be playable on Blu-ray systems, rendering piracy meaningless.

The ROM Mark will be included in the format's BD-ROM specifications, which are scheduled to be finalized this year.

"Film studios have been strongly requesting an efficient scheme against piracy. This comprehensive content-management system is a message from BDA to appeal to the film studios," said a Sony Corp. spokesman. He declined to reveal specific technical details about the BD+ renewability technology.

Studios line up

Of the seven major movie studios, only Sony Pictures, MGM, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox support the Blu-ray Disc format while Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures support the rival HD-DVD format, the Sony spokesman said. Sony is hoping to use the announcement on content protection to appeal to the film studios that do not support the Blu-ray Disc format at present, he said.

As a member of the DVD Forum and the Blu-ray Disc Association, Fox has been in a position to evaluate both next-generation DVD formats. Fox already announced that it would release its movie titles on Blu-ray. The studio said the decision was a direct result of the association's adoption of copyright-protection measures, including renewable security.

Responding to the Blu-ray Disc Association's announcement, Mark Knox, adviser to the HD-DVD promotion division at Toshiba Corp., said in a statement, "The AACS to be used by HD-DVD provides the most advanced content protection yet devised: a synthesis of high-level security, including renewability, proven reliability, cost-effectiveness and flexibility, as well as superior implementation in real-world devices."

The DVD Forum studied a content-protection renewability scheme for HD-DVD, but voted it down a few months ago, a spokesman said. According to a source close to the forum, that technologycalled self-protecting digital content, proposed by Cryptography Research Inc.had strong support from Fox. The protection technology places a virtual machine in the DVD player. If the player is attacked, software will be renewed on the virtual machine.

Although the DVD Forum turned down that renewability scheme, in the wake of the Blu-ray Disc Association's introduction of the ROM Mark and BD+, it may have to reconsider, sources said.

- Yoshiko Hara

EE Times

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