FC: Hollywood wants to plug "analog hole," regulate A-D converters

David G. Koontz koontz at ariolimax.com
Sat May 25 17:50:53 EDT 2002

R. A. Hettinga wrote:

>--- begin forwarded text
>Hollywood Wants to Plug the "Analog Hole"
>*New MPAA report reveals chilling agenda*
>=The Big Picture=
>The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the "Content
>Protection Status Report" with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month,
>laying out its plan to remake the technology world to suit its own ends.
>The report calls for regulation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs),
>generic computing components found in scientific, medical and entertainment
>devices. Under its proposal, every ADC will be controlled by a "cop-chip"
>that will shut it down if it is asked to assist in converting copyrighted
>material -- your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you
>wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo.
>The report shows that this ADC regulation is part of a larger agenda. The
>first piece of that agenda, a mandate that would give Hollywood a veto over
>digital television technology, is weeks away from coming to fruition.
>Hollywood also proposes a radical redesign of the Internet to assist in
>controlling the distribution of copyrighted works.
>=Hollywood Tips its Hand=
>The "Content Protection Status Report"
>(http://judiciary.senate.gov/special/content_protection.pdf) points to
>future where innovation and fair use rights are sacrificed on copyright's
>altar, where entertainment companies become *de facto* regulators of new
>technologies, deciding which mathematical instructions are mandatory and
>which are forbidden
>=Plugging the Analog Hole=

>Hollywood perceives ADCs as the lynchpin of unauthorized duplication. No
>matter how much copy-control technology is integrated into DVDs and
>satellite broadcasts, there is always the possibility that some Internet
>user will aim a camcorder at the screen, always the shadowy fan at the
>concert wielding a smuggled digital recorder, always the audiophile jacking
>a low-impedance cable into a high-end stereo. These bogeymen plague
>Hollywood, and each one uses an ADC to produce unauthorized copies.
>Accordingly, the report calls for a regimen where "watermark detectors
>would be required in all devices that perform analog to digital
>conversions." The plan is to embed a "watermark" (a theoretical, invisible
>mark that can only be detected by special equipment and that can't be
>removed without damaging the media in which it was embedded) in all
>copyrighted works. Thereafter, every ADC would be accompanied by a "cop
>chip" that would sense this watermark's presence and disable certain
>features depending on the conditions.
>This is meant to work like so: You point your camcorder at a movie screen.
>The magical, theoretical watermark embedded in the film is picked up by the
>cop-chip, which disables the camcorder's ADC. Your camcorder records
>nothing but dead air. The mic, sensing a watermark in the film's
>soundtrack, also shuts itself down.
>The objective of a law like this is to make "unauthorized" synonymous with
>"illegal." In the world of copyright, there are many uses that are legal,
>even -- *especially* -- if they are unauthorized, for example, the fair-use
>right to quote a work for critical purposes. Any critic -- a professor, a
>reporter, even an individual with a personal website -- may be lawfully
>copy parts of copyrighted works in a critical discussion. Such a person may
>scan in part of a magazine article, record a snatch of music from a CD or a
>piece of a film or television show in the lawful course of making a
>critical work.
After hearing about the recent defeat of Sony's copyright protected CDs 
in Europe
with a marketing pen and having visited the above issue on the EFF site,
I spend some time thinking up schemes for watermarks detected by ADCs and
ways to defeat them.  Do not copy watermarks could be defeated by masking,
similar to the marker obscuring the security track on the Sony CDs.  If you
don't mind screwing around you could always transpose color components
going to the display device (similar to plugging RGB BNC connectors wrong.)
You could write software that inverse transposition on color components of
the captured data.

I don't think it is possible to built in watermark detection that can't be
defeated, even if detecting a watermark were to be required for operation,
it could be defeated.   I imagine it would be easier to buy smuggled in
devices.  If you didn't mind supporting your now a little more respectable
and reformed drugged lord or terrorist organization striking back at
the Great Satan by allowing ordinary citizens to exercise Fair Use.

I suppose it is too much to ask that the Justice Department investigate
these guys and the Pols they own under RICO?

Can you imagine watermarks on billboard advertisements?  How subliminal.

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