With widespread piracy of movies and video games resulting in billions of dollars in losses of potential revenue, the Blu-Ray Disc Associates have today unveiled what is quite possibly one of the most complex set of anti-piracy measures to date.
The Blu-ray content management system includes three primary components: Advanced Access Content System (AACS), "BD+", a Blu-ray-specific enhancement for content protection renewability, and ROM Mark, a measure unique to Blu-ray Disc to guard against mass production piracy or the mass duplication and sale of unauthorised copies of pre-recorded media.
'Content protection is a critical issue for next-generation media distribution,' said IDC's Joshua Martin, Associate Research Analyst, Consumer Markets. 'Finalizing the content protection scheme is critical for the launch of blue laser optical disc technology, and new protection schemes should allow for increased consumer flexibility while better protecting prerecorded content compared to current DVD technology.'
The foundation of the Blu-ray content management system, AACS, is a state-of-the-art content management system that is many times more powerful than that used in DVD. Additionally, AACS enables new consumer usage models around network functionality and internet connectivity including managing copies, in an authorized and secure manner.
ROM Mark, which is unique to Blu-ray Disc, is a new technology that embeds a unique and undetectable identifier in pre-recorded BD-ROM media such as movies, music and games. While invisible to consumers, this ROM Mark can only be mastered with equipment available to licensed BD-ROM manufacturers, essentially preventing unauthorized copies of a disc.
The BDA also adopted 'BD+', a Blu-ray Disc specific programmable renewability enhancement that gives content providers an additional means to respond to organized attacks on the security system by allowing dynamic updates of compromised code. With these enhancements, content providers have a number of methods to choose from to combat hacks on Blu-ray players. Moreover, BD+ affects only players that have been attacked, as opposed to those that are vulnerable but haven't been attacked and therefore continue to operate properly.
'The level of unauthorized copying and industrial piracy associated with DVD not only jeopardizes studios and other content creators, but also results in increased costs and limited flexibility for consumers,' said Maureen Weber, General Manager of Hewlett Packard's Optical Storage Solutions. 'It is good news for everyone that the BDA has adopted a series of measures that gets it right for the next disc format.'
It's all certainly scary, Big Brother-esque stuff, but we won't really know how it will effect everyday use of these players, or how privacy activists will act until the first wave of Blu-Ray compatible players are released, which is currently set to be either late this year, or Q1 2006.