John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Free Your Mind … And Your AACS Will Follow

freeyourmindandyouraacswillfollow.gif If the definition of insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time, then the motion picture industry is certifiable. To wit, its repeated efforts to restrict access to next-generation DVDs with the Advanced Access Content System. Hollywood’s latest poster child for digital rights management was circumvented last December, its key cracked in January and cracked more comprehensively in March. Each time, the AACS business group took steps to stop its proliferation. And each time, it was thwarted. “We will take whatever action is appropriate,” Michael Ayers, chair of the AACS business group said earlier this month. “[AACS is] absolutely not broken. There has been a lot of misunderstanding. The key that has been leaked has now been revoked.”

Yeah, lot of good that did, too. Here we are a few weeks later, and the newest AACS key, version 3, has been cracked–well in advance of its official release. What will it take for the entertainment industry to realize that its quest to lock down content with digital rights management is a lost cause, that digital media is fundamentally redistributable and you can no more make it uncopyable than you can make water unwet. “All entertainment media on the Internet (like everything else on the Internet) is just bits: ones and zeros,” says computer security specialist Bruce Schneier. “Bits are inherently copyable, easily and repeatedly. If you have a digital file–text, music, video or whatever–you can make as many copies of that file as you want, do whatever you want with the copies. This is a natural law of the digital world, and makes copying on the Internet different from copying Rolex watches or Louis Vuitton luggage. What the entertainment industry is trying to do is to use technology to contradict that natural law. They want a practical way to make copying hard enough to save their existing business. But they are doomed to fail.”

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