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DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole 314

Art Grimm writes "Movie studios want to punish legitimate customers for legally purchasing content, while the real pirates go right on stealing. ZDNet's George Ou writes: "There seems to be a persistent myth floating around the board rooms of the movie companies and Congress that analog content is the boogie man of music and video piracy. In fact, they're so paranoid about it that they're considering a mechanism called ICT (Image Constraint Token) that punishes law-abiding customers for content that they legally purchased. But ironically, the real content pirates who make millions of bootleg movies have no intention of ever taking advantage of the so called "analog hole" because that is the slowest and lowest quality method of stealing content.""
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DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole

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  • by gbulmash (688770) * <.moc.oohay. .ta. .suomaf_imes.> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:09PM (#15022566) Homepage Journal
    I don't know what research the author of TFA has done on bootleg DVDs, but I've seen a few a friend brought back from Thailand.

    The ones that hit the street before even the US release of the DVD are either from a video camera in the theater or from copying a screener. Often you can see the screener warnings while watching the movie.

    Additionally, to serve an Asian market, many have had additional Asian subtitles added and then were recompressed, causing quality to diminish.

    Bit-by-bit copies are fine and good in theory, but that's for discs already in release, serving the languages for which the discs already have subtitles or alternative soundtracks. But by then, there's already been a brisk trade in bootlegs those films.

    Yes, the analog hole is inefficient and not the best way to copy something. It's merely an example of how a determined pirate can still get around most DRM. It's like protecting graphics on the web. You can disable right clicking, do odd things with MIME types, etc. But in the end, all someone needs to do is capture the screen and crop out the image.

    Long and short, DRM and copy protection stops casual copiers. But dedicated copiers, if left with no other alternative, still have the analog hole as a last resort. And once one dedicated copier puts something on the file sharing nets...

    • Everything has been said about movies that can be said. But i've noticed everyone is kinda focusing on DVD's and movies still in theaters. In some ways..the analog hole is being closed in the HD world. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players aren't going to include componet video output and the newer HDTV componets are abandoning componet as well, per FCC ruling, going exclusively to HDMI and DVI connections. Which not only has a LOT of HDTV owners up in arms because our sets are going to be completely useless, but doe
      • by BVis (267028) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:04AM (#15026004)
        Analog audio is good quality, let's not forget we live in an analog world..our eyes and ears process analog. The main problem in the piracy world is taking advantage of this hole properly, which many won't do because of the time and expense involved. I'm an audio engineer, I quite honestly find audio Cd's quite lacking in the sound game.
        Now that I've listened to DVD-Audio and SACD, I agree that CDs are lacking. But you're an audio engineer and I'm an uptight elitist asshole, and we represent a very very very small percentage of the market. Most of the great unwashed couldn't give two shits about the quality of the experience they're having; they care that it's cheap and loud. When consumers begin to adopt HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray, most of them will buy the inevitable converters to plug them into their older HDTVs (because they're used to having to buy extra stuff, since they don't understand or don't care about how to do things the way they're engineered), thus incurring the "analog hole" penalty, and either won't notice the difference or won't care. Thus the DRM doesn't have a negative effect on sales, even though the consumer is getting a quarter of the quality they're paying for.
        It was even brought up a few times that record companies go back to distributing on vinyl to prevent piracy, it MIGHT work comsidering few people have the capability to properly record vinyl.
        The key word there is "properly". People will go back to using their old-fashioned cassette decks, or capture the output in some other way that's been around since the 70's. There's a marked loss of sound quality, but again, people either don't notice or don't care.
        IMHO this is the most important factor in trying to fight onerous DRM: The average consumer's complete apathy towards and/or ignorance of the drawbacks of the technology.
        As far as movie theaters..that's a losing game.
        And now we've hit on the REAL cause of theater revenues dropping in recent years. People used to like going to the movies. They paid a few bucks, got a decent seat, some popcorn, STFU'd, and watched the movie on a big screen. Now, you pay an arm and a leg, get a plastic seat, pay the other arm and leg for popcorn (or risked ejection by bringing your own snacks), yack yack yack incessantly throughout the movie (either to their companions or their cell phones), and watch the movie on some screen that probably has been completely poorly maintained, if at all, and listen to sound on blown out K-Mart quality speakers. Even the bigwigs at the MPAA have admitted that the poor theater experience contributes to the loss of revenues they're seeing. (There are exceptions to this experience; I saw V for Vendetta on opening weekend in a "premium cinema" near where I live. It's expensive, sure, but not all that much more than a regular theater, and when you factor in that the popcorn is free, the seats are leather, you have 2 of your own armrests, a pull-out tray table, and a full bar in the lobby that allows you to bring drinks into the theater, not to mention the THX spec sound an video, it's a fucking bargain.
    • Additionally, to serve an Asian market, many have had additional Asian subtitles added and then were recompressed, causing quality to diminish.

      Are you sure we're talking about DVD still? With the DVD I know, subtitles are stored completely separately from the video.

      • Part of why they recompress (and strip out extras and other stuff) is because most DVDs are dual layer. Its significantly cheaper for the priate to recompress it to fit on a single layer blank than it is to produce a bit-for-bit copy on a dual layer disk.
        • by mpe (36238) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:44AM (#15024669)
          Part of why they recompress (and strip out extras and other stuff) is because most DVDs are dual layer. Its significantly cheaper for the priate to recompress it to fit on a single layer blank than it is to produce a bit-for-bit copy on a dual layer disk.

          One thing which often gets overlooked by the "industry" (and associated press) is that to the majority of viewers "quality" comes a long way behind availability. There are plenty of people who will quite happily watch a VHS recording full of dropout recorded from poor quality broadcast.
      • Are you sure we're talking about DVD still? With the DVD I know, subtitles are stored completely separately from the video.

        And pirates might take the quick and dirty approach and overdub subtitles on the video stream. Simpler than tacking on real subtitles.

    • >And once one dedicated copier puts something on the file sharing nets...

      I wonder how far off we are from the day when the "internet" content can be actively monitored. Already we are hearing rumblings about how P2P traffic can be easily identified and QOSed as desired. Or how the file sharing networks get infiltrated.

      I wonder how far off we are from the day when pirated content, the sender, and receiver are identified in nanoseconds and calls routed to the appropriate local law enforcement agencies?

      • BayTSP claims that they are already spidering torrent sites and P2P networks constantly so that they can identify and sue the "first sharer" of files within minutes. (Of course, they would say that, wouldn't they?) But supposedly [] the real bad guys never use P2P networks; they're hidden behind private "topsites" that are already encrypting their traffic.
    • by Phroggy (441) * <> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:54AM (#15024508) Homepage
      Long and short, DRM and copy protection stops casual copiers. But dedicated copiers, if left with no other alternative, still have the analog hole as a last resort. And once one dedicated copier puts something on the file sharing nets... will be more convenient to download the pirated version of the film than to buy it in a store and jump through whatever hoops they want you to jump through in order to get it to play. Video games reached this point a few years ago - there are lots of people who go out and buy a game, then download a pirated version (or just a crack) so they can play it without all the anti-piracy crap.

      Steve Jobs touched on this issue when he introduced the iTunes Music Store. Apple understands that in order to make money selling music, they have to make it significantly less hassle to buy it legally than to pirate it. The MPAA hasn't figured this out yet.

      I don't watch very much TV, so I have no interest in paying for cable or satelite TV. However, I really like The Daily Show. I used to pirate it via BitTorrent, but then SuprNova got shut down, then another torrent site got shut down, TVTorrents doesn't seem to have new episodes posted on a regular basis, the P2P networks I've looked at are unreliable and slow and don't usually have new episodes... there are probably other places I could look, but it's just a pain in the ass. So when Apple announced they would be selling a monthly subscription, I jumped at the chance to throw money at them. Why? Because it's significantly easier than pirating. It's not perfect yet (iTMS MultiPass isn't as smooth and seamless as Podcasts are), but it's not a pain in the ass.

      I don't have much money to spend on entertainment right now. If you want any of it, you have to give me something I want for a price I think is reasonable without being obnoxious about it. Period.
  • by O'Laochdha (962474) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:16PM (#15022600) Journal
    That this "penalty" is only a decrease in resolution. Unless they have a gigantic TV, in which case my guess would be that they could afford the better technology, the average Joe won't notice unless he's specifically looking for it.
    • I keep hearing this comment. I can only assume that you don't have HDTV yourself? HD content looks significantly better than SD on a 36" TV, and the improvements get dramatically more noticable as you go up from there. Besides, prices on 50"+ TVs are dropping like crazy these days. Also, you're ignoring all of those folk who have large format TVs without the various proposed digital interfaces already, who aren't in the immediate market to upgrade them (and if they did, you're ignoring the people who re
      • I don't have HDTV, because when I visited the local big box retailer, I was not at all impressed with the quality. The channel I was watching had a HDnet bug, so I'm pretty sure it was a native HD signal and not upconverted. However, the quality was just horrendous. The picture had visible artifacts throughout - not typical pixelization you see on a bad MPEG-2 SD feed, but just general fuzziness that was not at all like the crisp, sharp picture everybody says HDTV has. The 36" NTSC TV next to the HDTV h
    • by macdaddy357 (582412) <> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:55PM (#15022807)
      I think "Average Joe" will instantly notice if his new DVDs look no better than his old ones, and be very angry! To make matters worse, once the disk is opened it cannot be returned. To avoid this travesty, those of us in-the-know need to inform "Average Joe" before he gets ripped off.

      I will not buy any DRM crippled product, [] movies or music and am not shy about encouraging others to boycott them. Respect my personal property rights after the sale, or there will be no sale.

    • so why am i buying this high res copy again? i don't really consider drm-laden "better technology"
    • But average Joes aren't buying $1,000 HD players; videophiles are. The people with the old analog HDTVs would seem to be exactly the people who would complain about downrezzing.
    • 480i/480p/540p are noticably HORRIBLE on the smallest of HD TVs

  • Repeat after me: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrumpetPower! (190615) <> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:17PM (#15022607) Homepage
    It ain't about stopping ``piracy.'' Not even in the slightest.

    It's all about control, and the power that goes with it.


    • Right on, it's all about pay-per-view.
      • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:50PM (#15022787)
        Right on, it's all about pay-per-view.

        That's part of it, but not even close to all of it, or even the main goal, IMHO.

        Even more important to the big media interests is keeping individuals and independent groups from being able to distribute content freely.

        This is their biggest threat: the ability of anyone to create content and distribute it over the internet to anyone interested for free or whatever the individual or group feels is fair.

        Without exclusive control over distribution and promotion, the whole media cartel collapses. Making proprietary DRM mandatory keeps the media cartel in control by locking out those without the ability to pay licensing costs, and/or making the terms of any such licensing such that it is useless for distributing independently created content.

        • Re:Repeat after me: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Slithe (894946)
          The biggest problem facing independent distribution is NOT global corporations; they have little to fear from independent developers. The biggest problem facing independent media is not the difficulty of production/distribution; the biggest problem is that THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILLING TO CREATE MEDIA!!

          Steve Wozniak, the (co)founder of Apple Computers, once remarked that he thought every one would write the software he or she needed, and people would be free of the big software companies forever!
          • The biggest problem facing independent distribution is the signal-to-noise ratio. It's easy enough these days to make a movie, CD, app, or any other sort of media and distribute it -- and people are doing that nonstop. On any college campus, there are more artistic events than crowds to attend them. The problem is sorting out the good stuff and delivering it to passive consumers.

            Old Media established itself performing that service. Now, it's becoming clear that we don't really need them to do it for us,

          • The biggest problem facing independent distribution is NOT global corporations; they have little to fear from independent developers. The biggest problem facing independent media is not the difficulty of production/distribution; the biggest problem is that THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILLING TO CREATE MEDIA!!

            I was coming at the topic from my view as a musician, and I agree as far as software goes, the doors are wide open. There are better tools, developmental models, and online assistance available than eve
          • by -brazil- (111867)
            The biggest problem facing independent distribution is NOT global corporations; they have little to fear from independent developers. The biggest problem facing independent media is not the difficulty of production/distribution; the biggest problem is that THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILLING TO CREATE MEDIA!!

            No. Lots of people are creating media. The biggest problem is that people are not willing to find and support stuff that's not shoved down their throats with millions of marketing dollars.

            The herd menta
        • Re:Repeat after me: (Score:3, Informative)

          by blibbler (15793)
          Thats an interesting idea, but do you have anything to back it up? All of the encryption systems I have heard of are entirely optional (at the option of the content producer.) CSS and region restrictions have always been optional on DVDs. All of the fancy DRM techniques used in the next generation HD disks are also optional (consider Sony's choice to use a lower level of protection for their (at least initial) releases) and once the burnable variety is available (likely to be a lot earlier in the cycle than
          • I can back it up to this extent.

            4 hours of my life were spent watching Star Wreck instead of Hollywood Dreck.

            That's 4 hours.. at least... that I didn't consume hollywood product. And I turned my buds on to it too.

            It's just starting- but there is a lot of good stuff out there. Jeez- at least 20 hours of solid star wars stuff. Also a lot of non-hollywood songs ( for one) that are inexpensive compared to label stuff and really professional.

            I don't think TV/Movie folks care yet- but I do think t
            • I don't deny that there is a lot of independent content. The comment I was responding to was arguing that the primary reason for DRM was to prevent people from accessing alternative content, and not to reduce privacy. While I am sure that they would prefer seeing you buying content from them rather than getting free independent content, I have seen no connection between that and the way that DRM has been handled so far. The large media companies have done plenty of nasty stuff for real without all of the pl
    • I don't buy it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:11PM (#15022878) Homepage
      It ain't about stopping ``piracy.'' Not even in the slightest. It's all about control, and the power that goes with it.

      I cannot believe that. Power for power's sake? Why? You seem to think these guys are a kind of evil overlord trying to keep the peons in their place. That's about the silliest possible motivation there could be because it flies in the face of reality.

      NO, what motivates these guys is money, pure and simple (not that there's anything wrong with that since I'm an ardent capitalist). They want to do whatever they can to make as much money as the can for as little cost as they can. Following that logic, we find that if something costs them money or reduces the amount of money they can make, they'll be against it. But here's what you fail to realize: the customer is in the driver's seat here, not the media moguls.

      If DRM is too intrusive or obnoxious, consumers won't buy into it, especially since DVD's are already here and "good enough" for most folks. If the industry starts getting heavy handed with ICT, consumers can and quite likely will revolt. Then, faced with the prospect of losing money, the industry will capitulate. They need our dollars (or pounds, or Euros, or whatever) far more than we need them. Deep down, they know that. The problem is that most consumers don't know it yet. But if pushed, they will discover it quite fast.

      It's not about power, it's about money. No matter what the media moguls do, the one thing they cannot do is force us to buy their products. We have the power of choice, they do not.
      • Intelligent people like us here at slashdot sometimes forget that the minions out in suburbia are quite happy to keep paying out money so that they can have their heads filled with propoganda. The sad thing is most of them don't even know it is going on. The power that comes with controlling the media is HUGE! Just take a look at what the nazis did with their controll of the media.
      • Re:I don't buy it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by marcosdumay (620877) <.marcosdumay. .at.> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:12PM (#15023200) Homepage Journal

        They do force people to buy their products. They simply make sure that the competition doesn't exist. And that is the why they need power.

        So, even if they lose some money on the short term, the *AA will try to get power, because if they don't, the money will go to the competition on the future (and they'll need to adjust their prices). Although money is the final obective, you'd better think about power to understand them, not money.

      • Re:I don't buy it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Draknor (745036) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:26PM (#15023287) Homepage
        But here's what you fail to realize: the customer is in the driver's seat here, not the media moguls

        Except, we're not. Or at least, not actively driving. Sure, consumers *could* stop buying DRM, but we won't. The media industry will continue to slow turn up the heat, until we're long past boiling and we don't even realize it. Look at it the history of it --

        1. We started with Macrovision, so you couldn't connect two VCRs & copy commercial tapes.
        2. Laserdiscs - no consumer-level recorders, so no problem there
        3. DVDs - region control & CSS, not supposed to be able to rip & copy
        4. HD/Bluray - DRMs starting to get a little more intrusive

        It's not going to happen over night, but once the HD/Bluray standards finally settle and people start buying & upgrading equipment over the next decade, HD & Bluray's DRM will seem like CSS does now - annoying, but not without its workarounds. And then they'll come up with the next big DRM control, and technical people will gripe about it and Average Joe will remain about as clueless.

        The only way consumers will "revolt" is if they crank up the heat too fast. This industry doesn't move *that* fast, and they're smart enough to not alienate their entire customer base all at once.

        In fact, the industry's biggest danger is consumers moving to other forms of media & content before the industry can react -- stuff like iTunes, podcasts, videoblogs, whatever's next. I definitely agree with previous posts in this thread that media moguls are in the DRM movement for control; if they can control the content & the distribution, they get to control where the profits go.
        • Re:I don't buy it (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Aceticon (140883) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:27AM (#15024821)
          The day when downloading a movie from the Net is easier and gives you a beter quality product than buying it from the content producer is the day consumers will start jumping ship in droves.

          Look at "protected" music CDs (hi Sony!) vs mp3s downloads from the latest and greatest P2P network.

          If you have any kind of portable MP3 player, pirating the music IS the best option. (sad really)

          (This is not completely so, thanks to Apple an iTunes)

          Thus for movies, the scenario of turning the heat on too fast is still viable even when studios are slowly heating up the DRM fire. This is because consumers don't feel the heat in a linear way (the absolute number of hurdles do i have to jump over to seem the movie), but instead in a non-linear one (how many hurdles do i have to jump over by comparisson with the other ways of getting the same content)

          DRM will not protected against pirating of the movies simply because for each movie DRM only has to be broken or bypassed once for the movie to become available in the Net.

        • Re:I don't buy it (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mjh (57755)

          Except, we're not. Or at least, not actively driving. Sure, consumers *could* stop buying DRM, but we won't.

          But isn't that part of the point? If the mass of consumers don't stop buying DRM then aren't they all saying that DRM doesn't bother them? Sure it bothers you. And it bothers me. But we can hardly claim that it bothers most everyone if it doesn't bother them enough to stop purchasing it.

          I guess I don't buy this argument. If the media companies do something that consumers *really* don't like

      • This actually reminds me a lot of the "original" divx, a temporary dvd format pushed by compusa and rca iirc.. it flopped, miserably... same with the "disposable" dvd rentals... the fact is, things that go "too" far, don't get accepted enough to stick around.
      • Re:I don't buy it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by albanac (214852) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @08:23AM (#15025449) Homepage Journal

        It's not about power, it's about money. No matter what the media moguls do, the one thing they cannot do is force us to buy their products. We have the power of choice, they do not.

        There's something of a series of responses I'd like to make here.

        Firstly, there's no question that you're right that this is about money. You seem to have missed the basic reality that in the West, and indeed most places, money == power, up to the point of full-scale nuclear military engagement. Without money, you can't run a war: why do you think the US national debt is so much higher now than it was in 2000? You can work from there right down the scale to the two guys on the street who see a hot dog stand and are both hungry. The one who has $5 has the power to become fed, the one who does not lacks this power. But you're right: it's about the money.

        Your comment about the power of choice, unfortunately, is theoretically fine but practically irrelevant. The US consumer really doesn't have the power of choice, and most consumers in the Western world lack it as well; those in some corners of Europe like Scandanavia and the Czech Republic have more than most. This is because any given consumer has the power of choice, but consumers en masse do exactly what they're told. Marketing works. Targetted and co-ordinated marketing works (take a look at how we got into Operation Cobra II in the first place). The only arenas in which Western consumers have actual choice are those in which there are competing products made by companies who have to compete on quality and price: arenas like, for example, high grade sports equipment or food. Lots of choices there. The current area of discussion, however, is a cartel-based industry. There is no competition on price (prices are standard). There is no competition based on quality, because while the cartel may display the occasional interneicine rivalry, everyone in the club knows that they aren't competing against each other: all they have to do is keep making less movies at more money per movie every year, and because they are the only game in town, the general public will keep watching their movies. In case you doubt that comment, apply google to the problem and take a look at the number of movies made per year and how that indicates a trend over the time period from 1920 to the present day. Cross-reference with average price per movie.

        Now we get to the meat of the issue. Just as with the produced-band, hip-hop canned pap industry (otherwise known as the Recording Industry of America Association) the cartel which rules movies has seen a very worrying trend. People aren't spending as much money on movies as they used to. They're still buying the merchandise, which helps: they're still buying movies and going to see them in the cinema, but they're doing so less often. The obvious conclusion from this is they don't like the movies, or consider them (or their media) to be overpriced for the quality. This, however, is not something a cartel can admit. The cartel in question are looking for any way to maintain their profit margins: that's their job. Their profit margins are not based on quality or competition: they are the only game in town. What are their profit margins traditionally based on?

        Leverage of a monopoly status. The term 'gatekeepers' is a useful one: see Jim Baen for a more developed version of this argument from the point of view of a print literature publisher. Publication of entertainment, be it books, films or music, was once an industry with a staggeringly high cost of entry. You had to be One of Us (tm) already to be able to afford to enter the industry, and if you got into it and weren't already one of us, you'd soon have enough cash that you were acceptable to the club. This high cost of entry meant that a cartel-based industry could develop without problems. Back in the day, the cartels *did* compete, but the losers got bought by the winners until pretty much all movies distributed by Hollywood today are owned

    • While I agree that by introducing restrictions the studios create more business opportunities to leech from the consumer.

      What the studios do need to recognise is that entertainment is an optional business. No one -needs- to purchase a DRM movie or audio disc.

      Herein lies their problem, they want to somehow grow profits, but punish their bread+butter customers in the process, because they can't think of any better way to restrict content to traditional use.

      I think they should just go back to the old method o

  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:20PM (#15022630) Homepage
    The reality is you don't have to use the analog hole. Any encryption scheme is going to have a set of keys that will be, at a minimum, susceptible to some sort of clever replay attack. Even a DVD player hooked to the internet and sharing keys with a movie studio would ultimately fall victim to this.

    The whole thing is stupid. The studios will never win.

    • Yeah, just wait till some sort of open source decryption project opens that has the sole purpose of breaking DRM keys. Kind of like the SETI project. Sure it'll take forever for someone to break the codes, but if you use a distributed project that uses idle clock cycles, you could break DRM keys. And the more computers you get, the faster the break times.
    • For HDCP, your 'replay attack' would only work if all recipients of the digital bootleg had the same display device... and I don't mean just the same model of display from the same manufacturer; I mean one with the same decryption keys as yours. While I don't know this next statement is true for a certainty, I strongly suspect that the decryption keys in the display terminus are unique to each device that comes off the assembly lines.

      Plus, the replay would be a decompressed encrypted stream, meaning that
    • Any encryption scheme is going to have a set of keys that will be, at a minimum, susceptible to some sort of clever replay attack

      I can hack any encryption with only two things:

      1. A car battery.
      2. One guy who knows the master keys.
  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ardeocalidus (947463) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:23PM (#15022639)
    "DRM and the Myth of the Analog Hole"

    Oh my god! Is it geek porno night already?!

  • by SoCalDissident (953017) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:27PM (#15022661)
    Their real fear is that it is becoming easier and easier for people to make THEIR OWN CONTENT and distribute it for free, aka Some of the best movies have been low budget movies produced by a few people with vision.
    • Their real fear is that it is becoming easier and easier for people to make THEIR OWN CONTENT and distribute it for free, aka Some of the best movies have been low budget movies produced by a few people with vision.
      Moreover, as blogs success shown this threat is very real. But blogs, as a form of cheap novel art is just a beginning. Music and movies will catch up soon.
  • by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:28PM (#15022665) Homepage
    The whole analog hole (and DRM in general) really isn't about piracy. The studios and labels know they won't be stopping anyone who wants to rip the off on a larger scale.

    Instead, it's about us not format shifting, basically. The idea that you can take music or movies you bought and play wherever you are, at full quality, is anathema to them. They want us to pay for the CD. Then pay for the mobile phone version. And the portable player. And the car. And ...

    A lot of the movie and music sales - and an even larger part of the profits - the past fifteen years have been people rebuying stuff they own in a new format. Beloved LP recordings and worn out VHS tapes were bought again as CD:s and DVD:s. But now, with fully digitalized content, there is little reason to ever do that again. Copies don't degrade, and the quality is already high enough (especially for music) that a new format just isn't very tempting.

    But if you stop people from moving their data from evice to device, people will have to re-buy their content whenever they get a new device. It's an eternal upgrade revenue stream, like the shift from recordings to CD, but without any improvement in the viewer experience;without even having to pay for remastering or repackaging, in fact. And the more fine-grained you make the mesh of walls, the more often we have to pay again. Studios probably love that online services aren't standardized or compatible with each other; it means another resale every time someone switches from one service to another.

    In fact, if I were a studio executive, and of a manipulative frame of mind, I'd back one service to the hilt - for, say, three or four years. Then I'd switch allegiance to a new (but incompatible) service, nudging everybody to switch, and pay again. If I'd be _really_ manipulative, I'd look at what my fellow executives in other studios are doing and try to coordinate the shift with them (no need to actually make a shady deal; just follow the group). I wonder a little, in fact, just how much time iTunes has left as the current king of the hill.

    A steady stream of income without ever even having to produce any content. Who would not love that business model?
    • by tazan (652775)
      I agree for the most part. They don't care about professional pirates. They've already figured out they can't do much about them. They are trying to keep the average user from being able to copy it. Analog is a huge hole in that regard, because even the hopelessly incompetent can use it.
    • This is exactly why the RIAA are pushing so hard for cd copy protection. Its because of all the people that take CDs (either bought or borrowed from somewhere) and rip the CDs to MP3 players. The RIAA doesnt like this because:
      1.All the people using CDs borrowed from mates etc etc
      2.People who then copy the MP3 files back off the MP3 player and give it to people
      and 3.They cant sell you a locked down version of the file to play on your player.
    • by steevc (54110)
      Years ago I heard a reference to 'format fatigue', i.e. we got bought CDs because we were bored with vinyl. B*ll*cks I say. New formats are introduced to get us to buy again. It worked with vinyl->CD and VHS->DVD because everyone could see the advantage. It didn't work with CD->DVDA or SACD.

      I don't anticipate buying movies again on the new DVD formats. My DVDs sound and look good enough with my 28" CRT and basic surround system and I don't re-watch them much anyway. Audio-/videophiles may think dif
      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:06AM (#15025668) Journal
        I'll up the ante and say that my DVDs (the well produced ones) look excellent on a 51" high quality RPTV. The best produced DVDs are between good and very good, even on a 119" screen (my previous setup) through a HD FP.

        IMHO, there are relatively few things which look significantly better at high definition, and most of those would benefit from full 1080p, and a system which can provide that resolution. Team sports played on large fields is one of them (like football - both types).

        I own about 250 movies on DVD, and I really don't plan on re-buying 95% of them. There are a few lousy transfers I'll probably get, though I'd be happy with a better produced DVD (Thomas Crown Affair, Titanic come to mind). Most of my discs are about the story, not fantastic resolution. Will Animal House get better in HD? Waking Ned Devine? Of course not.

        Sadly, the new formats are aimed at better picture and sound, but are limited largely by the environment, in addition to the cost of the setup. Heck, I'm picky about my audio, but I still rip to 128kb for the MP3 discs I put in my car because - lets face it - you can't tell the difference with wind noise at 70MPH.
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:30PM (#15022677) Homepage
    I've seen few summaries so bad. First of all, it's so dripping with bias that it's hard to understand what is even being said. The write-up should include details, not opinion! Also, it fails to make the basic distinction between copyright infringement and theft.
    • Its not the blurb/summary, its the article... Not only did the author of the article wear his bias on his sleave, he didn't even do his research to fully understand what he is talking about!
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:31PM (#15022683) Homepage
    ...and what's more, it IMNSHO can never be entirely plugged.

    So long as content has to be displayed, it has to be converted to analog signals in the process. And while it may take a large amount of effort to "uncover" the hole - such as, disassembling an LCD panel and tapping into the driver circuitry - it only takes one person to redigitize the open content and distribute it, and all of a sudden it's everywhere again.

    There *IS* one strategy that might work; it involves adding a system for embedding a digital watermark to the decryption mechanism, which could help content owners track stolen content back to the one who did the stealing (assuming that person or group had no way to cover their tracks). But if the content owners implemented such a strategy, there'd no longer be a reason to cover the hole!

    All I can say is, if I do purchase a HD-disc and then discover it won't play at full resolution on my hardware, I'll simply download a free-market copy. I'm sure they'll still be available.
    • They already do that watermark stuff with screeners. Those people remove the watermarks from the screens already too.
    • by David Gould (4938) <> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:22PM (#15022930) Homepage

      Yes, the "analog hole" is real, in the sense that it prevents any DRM scheme from ever being able to completely eliminate any possibility of copying, but it's very deceptive, for all the reasons mentioned already (real pirates don't use it anyway, it's all about control, etc.) Another reason, which I haven't seen mentioned yet on this thread, is more subtle: it's psychological manipulation, hiding the fact that they're asking for new rights.

      By referring to the possibility of analog copying as a "loophole", they create the impression that it's something new, and that it's not a situation that has previously been considered acceptable. But of course, before we had digital content [*1], all copying, legal and illegal, was analog. Their whole argument for justifying laws like the DMCA was that with digital content came the possibility of digital copying, and that, since this removed the generational-loss problem, copying became more practical (shifting the balance against them), making such laws necessary just to restore the previous balance. But since analog copying was already part of the previous balance, adding laws to block it would be shifting the balance toward them, more than it ever was in the pre-digital days.

      In short, they're rewriting history: reinforcing the false impression that the rules established in the DMCA have always been part of traditional copyright law, and that to leave the "analog hole" open would be to take away something that they've always had, when in fact, closing it would be to give them something that they've never had.

      [1] if anyone can remember a time sooo far back as the early nineties -- Gods, I'm old (29).
      • With all due respect, D/A/D conversion means that the "analog hole" is now always a first generation analog copy. While they've never put DRM on analog copying, you can't claim that a redigitization is anything like the tenth generation VHS tapes that were floating around.
    • All I can say is, if I do purchase a HD-disc and then discover it won't play at full resolution on my hardware, I'll simply download a free-market copy. I'm sure they'll still be available.

      I have a question in response to this statement.

      After you discover that your purchased product is inferior to the pirated version, will you continue to purchase the crippled legal version? Or will that be your last purchase of HD content, and you will then become purely a consumer of pirated content, because it is a bette
      • After you discover that your purchased product is inferior to the pirated version, will you continue to purchase the crippled legal version? Or will that be your last purchase of HD content, and you will then become purely a consumer of pirated content, because it is a better product?

        I refuse to answer, on grounds that it might tend to incarcerate me.
    • Give me a call when it'll stop people getting a videocamera and a tripod and I'll start to get concerned. Until we're all in The Matrix, it needs to be analog before our brains can interpret it. I'm quite confident that music put out digitally on speakers is going to cause some serious damage, aside from sounding atrocious. Sure, the signal can be digital, but everything needs to be decoded before it's spit out.

      Your idea is thwarted by Macrovision and the like. A content protection that's still in the

  • by jheath314 (916607) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:34PM (#15022694)
    As far as I can tell from the chatter, only W-B seems dead-set on using ICT. Fox has decided against it, University probably won't, and Disney likewise seems to be leaning on the side not activating ICT (for now). A few weeks ago Sony surprised me by also opting out [].

    I'm not sure why the media companies are trending so softly on this issue... most people with analog HDTVs won't know the difference between the degraded and full-resolution versions anyway, and the video-philes who would catch on are likely too small a group to really impact the companies.

    Me, I'm so disgusted with the whole DRM mess that I feel absolutely no compulsion to get HD in any form. Perhaps as my current technology begins to wear out I'll find myself spending more time in the real world, with its amazing "true to life" resolutions and frame-rates.
    • As you said, most studios won't be using ICT for now because it's already gotten a decent amount of attention and they want to make abig deal out of making it a "non issue" so it won't be a barrier to Blu-Ray/HD-DVD adoption.

      Once the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war has been won (the only sure thing is the loser will be consumers) and the winner has made significant inroads in the market I don't think there's a chance in hell that the studios won's start turning on ICT, they will do it for a few "select" titles first a

    • The whole ICT thing is useless anyway.
      Pirates arent going to care that they get a lower quality image from component output. They will just use the lower quality image, use a DVD version of the film (the bandwidth to distribute any kind of "high definition" content over p2p, bittorrent etc is not there and wont be for quite a while yet and even for physical bootlegging they will still be using normal DVDs for some time to come as too few people can play any kind of high def content) or use a crack for HDCP
  • the free will hole (Score:4, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... com minus author> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:39PM (#15022717) Homepage Journal
    it is impossible to empower a customer to consume your content while at the same time restrict their ability to copy it, by any means, with any technology, with any scheme you can devise

    it's simply a matter that providing them the tools to consume your media also provides them the tools to copy it, and it is simply not possible to do one without also enabling the other

    it's philosophically impossible, no analog hole need apply

    the philosophical impossibility is supplied by the concept called "free will"

    no company, no matter how much time, technological innovation, or money it has, can defeat a group of poor technologically astute teenagers with time and motivation on their hands to consume your media without your restrictions. no human-devised security sytem cannot also be defeated by human beings. there is no such thing as a technological fix to human ingenuity

    the poorest of your customers, who are therefore the most motivated to steal your content, just happen to also be your prime target demographic audience as well

    in other words, the current ip system is simply doomed

  • Solution... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by all204 (898409) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:59PM (#15022824)
    I have a solution to all this DRM nonsense... Make and play your own music (I play guitar), they can't DRM or control that in any way. Besides it is a very satisfying and rewording hobby.

    • Re:Solution... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Petrushka (815171) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:59PM (#15023144)

      Make and play your own music (I play guitar), they can't DRM or control that in any way.


      No, I'm serious. I too am a musician (piano, mostly). Consider: it's not out of the question that some software company might decide one day that they want to control what you do with your own data that you have created using their software. After that, there's not a big conceptual leap between controlling what you do with your data and controlling all private artistic output; the only thing missing is the technology.

      OK, OK, my tinfoil hat is on really tight today, but I'm thinking say a few decades into the future, when everything might potentially be "tagged" in one way or another, -- including acoustic musical instruments. And that bit, I fear, is not at all a paranoid fantasy; I think it's very likely.

    • Re:Solution... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Real Nem (793299) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:20PM (#15023251) Homepage

      I was recently looking for a DVD player/recorder for my parents. They wanted the player for two reasons, one to record shows they like, and two to send some home videos off to my sister in England. When I went to a few stores to check out the models they had, I asked one of the sales staff if the recorders could encode region free DVDs (so my sister could pay them on her TV). He looked at me like I was some kind of crook and actually said: "here in Canada we obey international copyright law".

      Sure I could have reencoded the DVDs after they were recorded, but that is beside the point. My parents own the copyright to their home videos and should be able to do whatever they want with them. This is just another case of the industry hurting the consumers.

      We didn't buy.

  • by Randall311 (866824) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:09PM (#15022869) Homepage
    RIAA: *compairing DRMs with the MPAA... "I see that your schwartz is as big as mine! Let's see how well you handle it."
  • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:26PM (#15022950) Homepage
    I doubt it's a myth. I bet they know exactly what they are doing. It's just all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

    They know they are fighting a losing battle with the "digital copies" that won't be affected by closing the analog hole. However, they also know that they have a captive audience of people that have already purchased their product. These people, at some point, WANT the purchased product.

    Media shifting has (or at least was, don't know if recent case law has overruled or changed it) been legal as fair use. That means it is (or was) legal to copy a CD to casette if you legally purchased the CD and wanted to listen to it in your car cassette deck.

    The media companies don't like this. They want you to have to pay them a second time for the different media. They could not (or at least I don't think they have) stop the fair-use media shifting directly. Now, however, using the guise of piracy, they are taking steps to stop people from being able to do their own media shifting. The end result will be, at least what the media industry hopes will be, a large customer base of people that they know will spend money, since they have once already, on their product that will be more inclined to spend money again for different media.

    Think about it like this. If an older album sold 10,000,000 copies on cassette, and the same album then sold 1,000,000 copies on CD, the media industry will look at trends like that and see an automatic 10% revenue source for minimal work. Now, suppose a CD sells 10,000,000 copies, and the next audio format comes out. If they can make it imposible to copy that CD to the new media format, then it is likely that they'll be able to capture another 10%. 10% doesn't sound like much, but if they sell 1,000,000 copies of a song, and they are pocketing 1 or 2 dollars, that's 1 to 2 million dollars extra, times the number of titles they can repeat this process with.

    In the end, I think they know exactly what they are doing.
    • Media shifting has (or at least was, don't know if recent case law has overruled or changed it) been legal as fair use.

      Media shifting is still perfectly legal in this country (the US). However, thanks to our good friend the DMCA, it is now illegal to break any system designed to prevent copying, no matter what the reason.

      So it boils down to this: a standard redbook CD has no copy protection on it. Thus, it is perfectly legal for you to rip the CD to your computer and make a mix CD for your car, compress to mp3 for your iPod, and print out the raw bits and wallpaper your living room. However, almost all commercially-produced DVDs contain copy protection in the form of CSS. So while it is legal for you to copy the content of a DVD you own to another media (DVD, DVR, VHS, SVCD, whatever), the act of bypassing the CSS in order to get to the content is illegal. Most DVD players paid a licensing fee for the DeCSS algorithm, and likely signed a contract stating that they will not allow someone to use that algorithm to make a copy. So you can't hook a DVD player up to a DVD+R player and make a copy of your favorite movie (by design), nor does PowerDVD include a dumpvideo function. Any player which did not purchase a license and sign a contract is illegal, including every player available for Linux.

      However, I'm pretty sure that clause of the DMCA has never been tested in court in the context of Fair Use, so it's hard to say whether it will stay legal for long.

      I use mplayer on Linux, and fully exercise my fair use rights by watching the DVD I rightfully purchased. Sometimes I even dump the video to the hard drive and flip a few bits to convert from VOB to MPEG-2, for backup purposes on my RAID data server. Except for the fact that mplayer's DeCSS algorithm is illegal in this country (and only illegal because of a law on shaky ground), everything I do with my DVD video is perfectly legal under both my fair use rights and precidents set in the Betamax and Rio mp3 court cases.
  • My 2 cents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:56PM (#15023128)
    When someone listens to a song the emotional attachment is made with the artist of the song, NOT the company that produced it. I personally feel the whole DRM situation would taper off if this emotional attachment was reflected economically when a consumer purchases a CD. That way the consumer has an emotional incentive to obtain the song legally since their purchase goes directly to the artist and enforces this emotional attachment. The same is true for movies, books etc. The problem is that in order for this to happen, the large producing/publishing companies will have to go away (or at least fall backstage). These companies know this, and what we are seeing is their attempts to stop natural economic and technological trends. Once it becomes economically feasible for an artist/author to produce/publish their work somewhere else, either by themselves or via companies that don't demand ownership of their work, they will do it, and DRM, as well as large producing/publishing companies won't be needed as much.
  • Pirates = Scapegoat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DMouse (7320) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:13PM (#15023212) Homepage
    The real analog hole that the studios are trying to eliminate is the massive amount of legal content already in people's homes that the studios think is stopping people from buying new content.

    Pirates are just a useful scapegoat.
  • News flash! (Score:2, Funny)

    by edunbar93 (141167)
    Government and media producers are out of touch with reality! News at 10! Film at 11!
  • by curtvdh (738461) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @11:21PM (#15023590)

    ...because it requires the co-operation of hardware manufacturers. Sure, your Big Names are going to fall in line - Sony, Philips, Pansonic etc. But there will still be a host of Chinese/Korean/Singaporean manufacturers who will simply disregard the DRM restrictions. I have a DVD player imported from Korea - plays MPEG-2/MPEG-4, PAL/NSTC, completely disregards region encoding and Macrovision 'quality control', and lets me skip any part of the disc that I want (none of this 'cant use the remote on this piece of video' crap). Plus, is has Component Video Out, DVI/HDMI OUT, VGA Out - pretty much any connector you can think of, it has it. Cost less than $150 (minus shipping).

    The studios are fooling themselves if they think all hardware shops are going to fall in line. Right now, less than 5% of containers arriving at our ports are screened for radioactive materials - do you really think that some know-nothing Customs Agent is going to care about a harmless DVD player?

  • Fill that hole! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu (652581)
    "the so called "analog hole" ... is the slowest and lowest quality method of stealing content."

    They are already willing to degrade quality in order to prevent fair use. What's a little more then?

  • by TimothyJones (954047) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @11:47PM (#15023749)
    I am so fed up with entertainment business. I don't mind spending my money on things I like and someone can provide but the whole thing is retarded, and getting more retarded still. I don't believe MPAA, RIAA, studios, labels and the bunch are morons and thinnk that somehow, by introducing all the restrictions they'll eradicate piracy and stand to make significant profit, if bigger profit at all due to that fact. It is all about control and someone going "Because I said so and you little shitheads bow down to me!" Recently there was this thing with French having a problem with iTunes and locking into iPod, and I don't particualrly care for the French but you know what? They're right. Wanna provide content and sell songs? Fine, but don't limit people to some specific equipment. Otherwise, kindly fuck off! Chevys are not required to fill up at a special GM gas station, how are songs or movies any different? They're not.

    I can't have simply a satellite receiver, oh no, I need to have a CrapTV receiver and if for some reason I'd like to switch or buy some "other" programming, well receiver goes to the trash. What is the goddamned deal here? Same with the cell phones, cable tv, sat radio and few other things. I really cannot fathom how can equipment manufacturers even go for this crap? It is almost unimaginable that we have somehow managed to build a universally accessible Internet. Someone must have had a brain fart and forgot to grease our public servants.

    Back in the day I truly enjoyed my first TiVo. Awesome product and what a concept. Add a dash of DirecTV and one ends up with TiShit. The thing changes channels on its own to record infomercials, convininently and regularly reorganinzes my channel list to include removed by me shopping channels, bitches constantly about not being able to call home and a host of other annoying things. AND to top it all off we're being charged $5 or so a month for a DVR SERVICE. What fucking service!? I bought the damn thing for top dollars, it's a computer with a hard drive and all it does is record what I tell it to. What service!? That whole DRM shit is really no surprise and will likely go the same way. We enjoyed having pricey but no less standardized CD's and DVD's for a long while but the end is near. We'll end up with yet another "service". Wanna listen at home? Here you go. Wanna listen in your car? Sure, you'll need to pay more for this additional, exciting "service". Wanna listen to some other record label? Well you'll need a whole new equipment for that. Actually it's already here in the form of sat radio. It's not about piracy at all. Frankly those who'd even consider watching a video-recorded movie are pathetic losers who have no appreciacion for film, any film and will not spend real money on it anyway. Pirates will do whatever they do and no crappy DRM will stop them just like all the software activations and cable/sat scrambling haven't done a thing but to annoy and limit an already and duly paying customer. Actually it may as well increase the demand for pirated media not because it's cheaper or free, but because you'll be actually able to listen to it, watch it or use it. It is not about providing customers with content, it's about controlling what you do and selling sub-content. Commercials on TV don't work cause everyone hates them so they need to sell shit some other way. They'd be glad to precede every song on a CD with an "information from our sponsor" and to ensure sponsor's happy, it'd be neat if they could guarrantee that the customer will definitely listen to the promo - cause he's got no say in the matter. Yea, he paid for the CD, who gives a shit, we can make more money this way. It also be cool if we somehow made it a law prohibiting turning down the volume for the promo's duration. Many DVD's already have that great feature and one must sit thru several minutes of stupid - ehem pardon me, "exciting" previews before they get to watch a movie that they paid for. They're so exciting they have to make us watch it, to watch it. Some media

  • offshore jobs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:54AM (#15024068) Homepage Journal
    The funny thing is that the studios would almost certainly see a lot less actual piracy if they would stop having their DVD presses run cheaply in China and other places where it's sometimes difficult to find a legit DVD.

    I guess they added up the figures and came to the conclusion it's still cheaper doing it that way. They only fake the losses when they need to force through some new law.
  • by Secrity (742221) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:12AM (#15025070)
    I fervently hope that the content industries lay the DRM as thick and as heavy as technologically possible. If the DRM is wimpy, people will not know who to blame for the DRM annoyances that they have to put up with. If the DRM is heavy enough and intrusive enough, maybe people will start to understand WHY they the movie that they bought won't play right with their 2 year old television. I also hope that people start returning movies and music when they can't do with it what they think that they should be able to do with it.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:35AM (#15025139) Homepage Journal
    Its about control of the consumer/citizen.
  • by Britz (170620) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @07:25AM (#15025266)
    I am a big libertarian over here in Europe (which would translate to democrat in the US, yes, we are so far apart!), but there might be times when markets do seem to fail. The DVD was a large success. But the next generation? DRM is just one of the areas where the entertainment industry seems hopelss. Will the consumer "wait and see" for HD-DVD and Blue-Ray? I guess they will. Will they wait for DRM to actually work? Most likely! Will that translate into much sales? Hardly!

    Same happened to the music industry and online distribution. They slept through it. They didn't even combat online piracy very good. They still don't. Maybe in part because Kazaa promotes the most popular and therefore acutally serves them. But iTunes came along pretty late in the game and still much earlier than the labels themselves.

    Many people now have some sort of 5.1 or 6.1 Dolby Digital system at home. The music industry could sell all their stuff in sourround and reap similar profits to the movie industry with their old stuff on DVD selling like mad. Competing formats, no marketing, complete failure!!!

    I still don't think the government should get involved in many of those cases, simply because markets sort it out eventually (see iTunes). But they would serve the industry much better if they would take lead in some sort of standard body. It might take longer with the government involved, but shorter and cheaper than the upcoming standards war.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.