AACS vs. The bloggers

Summary:The BBC is carrying the story that the AACS Licensing Authority (AACSLA) plans to fight the bloggers who "crossed the line" and posted the processing key which can be used to break the copy protection on HD-DVDs.

The BBC is carrying the story that the AACS Licensing Authority (AACSLA) plans to fight the bloggers who "crossed the line" and posted the processing key which can be used to break the copy protection on HD-DVDs.

AACS
"It started out as a circumvention effort six to eight weeks ago but we now see the key on YouTube and on T-Shirts.

"Some people clearly think it's a First Amendment issue. There is no intent from us to interfere with people's right to discuss copy protection. We respect free speech.

"They can discuss the pros and cons. We know some people are critical of the technology.

"But a line is crossed when we start seeing keys being distributed and tools for circumvention. You step outside of the realm of protected free speech then."

Michael Ayers, chair of the AACS business group, goes on to say:

"There has been a lot of misunderstanding. The key that has been leaked has now been revoked."

If AACS is not broken, then why the fuss? He's also quoted as saying that AACS is "absolutely not broken".

What I find odd is the dual, almost schizophrenic message that the AACSLA is sending out.  If AACS is not broken, then why the fuss?  Why not just change the processing keys and allow this one to fade into obscurity (rather than go after Digg and blow the whole thing wide open)? 

Part of the reason behind this dual message might be that Ayers is not being entirely honest about the situation (or he doesn't understand it).  The processing key that's been uncovered cannot be revoked as such because it's built into the disc.  What the AACS will do is make sure that they use different processing keys for different titles (or maybe a single title will see discs pressed that uses one of a number of different processing keys).  The existing processing key hack means that all HD-DVD discs pressed using that processing key will be vulnerable, while new discs using different keys won't (not yet at any rate).

I still believe that it isn't consumers that the AACSLA want to convince of AACS's robustness, it's Hollywood.  AACS is designed to protect Hollywood's intellectual property, and so far it's doing a pretty poor job of it.

I really don't see what the AACSLA can do about the leak of the key onto the Internet.  A quick search through Google shows over a million results [Updated: May 5, 2007 @ 01.45 am This is now up to 1.48 million], up from about 700,000 last night.  To quote someone on Slashdot "the cat isn't just out of the bag, it's having kittens..." 

Indeed.

Topics: Google

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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