How Will Veil's Technology Plug The Analog Hole? By Mark Hachman November 2, 2005 http://www.extremedrm.com/article/How+Will+Veils+Technology+Plug+The+Analog+ Hole/164259_1.aspx
Proposed legislation to close the analog hole has thrust a small company that developed interactive toys into the spotlight. Veil Interactive, which has partnered with companies like Warner Bros. to create a line of action figures that interact with televisions is also the creator of the Veil Rights Assertion Mark (VRAM), a technology that could be used with an analog version of the existing Content Generation Management System technology to disseminate digital-rights-management technology into consumer-electronic equipment. advertisement The technology is at the heart of proposed legislation that Hollywood and several computer and consumer-electronics companies have begun circulating. According to Scott Miller, executive vice president of business development at Veil, the company first proposed the technology in 2003, as part of an analog reconversion discussion group, the technical name for the "analog hole" the legislation would attempt to close. At that time, Hollywood was looking for something like a "watermark," an indistinguishable identifying piece of information that could identify digital content. At the time, the Veil technology "represented the best solution for carrying content information," Brad Hunt, the chief technical officer of the MPAA, said in an interview. Like a watermark inserted into the content stream, the Veil VRAM is detectable either by its presence or absence. By its presence, the VRAM asserts that the content creator holds and wishes to exercise his rights. The CGMS-A technology, meanwhile, is contained within the vertical blanking interval (VBI), which is normally used to carry information such as closed-captioned data. "The good news is that the [CGMS-A] technology is outside the signal," Hunt said. "The bad news is that it can be lost." The VRAM and CGMS-A technology represent two separate methods for managing the rights attached to a content stream. If the VRAM is present but the CGMS-A technology is not, it's an indicator that the content is legitimate and that rights have been asserted, Miller said. However, this does not mean that the consumer therefore has the rights to do with the content as he wants. If the CGMS-A technology is not present, the content will be treated as "view-only," which will enable the content to be viewed but not recorded, Hunt said. The idea is if the CGMS-A is not detectable, the VRAM will be, and any recording and playback devices will know that rights are being asserted, he said. Likewise, a standard VGA cable from a PC to a computer monitor will also be treated as a scenario where CGMS-A data does not exist, and consumers will not be able to record the video that's playing on their PC, the MPAA's Hunt said. Under the proposed legislation, detection mechanisms would be built into the analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters in recording and playback hardware to sense the VRAM technology. For example, if a consumer should try and record a high-definition HBO movie to a Blu-Ray disc, the content will be encrypted and flagged, so that the disc's contents will not be copied again. Pay-per-view content will not be recordable at all. According to Miller, any technology can be broken by pirates. "The simple answer is that there's no guarantee of the security of the system," he said. "Professional pirates can break any system. What we're looking to do is place an impediment in front of honest people that don't know that they're doing something wrong, so they will know they're doing wrong." As an example, Miller described a scenario where a consumer might hook a playback device into the input ports of a recorder. "Those inputs and outputs serve a purpose, but they might not know that they're creating an illegal act," Miller said. The MPAA's Hunt said the VRAM and CGMS-A technologies were necessary, as part of an incentive to shift the industry into an all-digital world. "Sometimes I think that people feel that the MPAA is a bunch of Luddites," he said. "In this case, we are trying to incent the consumer to embrace the digital conversion, the digital connection...and that's why we need to drive this technology forward." Editor's Note: This story was corrected a 3:02 PM to clarify the relationship between the presence of the VRAM and rights asserted under CGMS-A. You are a subscribed member of the infowarrior list. Visit www.infowarrior.org for list information or to unsubscribe. This message may be redistributed freely in its entirety. Any and all copyrights appearing in list messages are maintained by their respective owners.