Per CNN:”Movie studios and consumer-electronics

  • Per CNN:“Movie studios and consumer-electronics companies are close to reaching an agreement that would protect digital-television broadcasts from being copied and traded Napster-style over the Internet, negotiators said on Monday.” According to the article the copy protection method sounds similar to SCMS which is used to control direct-digital copying of music. In that system CDs have a “flag” bit that tells a digital recorder (like a MD recorder or standalone audio CD recorder) to only allow one digital copy to be made, which encodes a different flag bit on the resulting copy. If you try and dub that copy the digital recorder won’t let you make a direct-digital copy. This system doesn’t function with computer CD-R drives because they’re considered data recorders.

    SCMS is pretty easily defeated if you care to put some time and money into it. Professional digital recorders (those you can’t get at Best Buy) allow you to ignore SCMS or modify how it’s recorded. You can also buy so-called “strippers” that remove this flag from the data stream.

    So, like any copy protection technology, it looks like the TV protection flag will just initiate another round of cat and mouse between the industry and the hackers. But as much as the entertainment industry hates to admit it, the affect of hackers really isn’t that massive and most average folks are perfectly willing to pay a reasonable price for movies and music, especially when circumventing the copy protection will take more effort and money than it appears to be worth. You don’t hear too much about SCMS cracking because the system does allow you to make one copy, and that’s really all most people want.

    There’s other coverage on this from the Washington Post and CNet.

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