Sunday, May 21, 2006

What kind of an idiot do you take me for?

There's been a fair bit of competition over the details of the new high-definition (blu-ray) DVD formats, which ordinarily no one would care about.

The new details are breathtaking in their arrogance.
  • They call for digital watermarking. That is, you wouldn't be able to copy the digital media without it being seen as a copy. No surprise there, the assorted content-making industries have been insisting on this repeatedly for years.
  • They call for the new players to have permanent connections to the internet, where "self-destruct" sequences can be sent out to individual players, requiring owners to take them in for servicing. The report does not detail the reasons why this might happen; but it's not hard to imagine the MPAA or RIAA lobbing repeated self-destruct instructions at every IP address that they see with a BitTorrent service. There are also substantial marketing reasons to want to know whatever DVDs an individual is viewing.
  • They call for the new players to have overridable encryption methods, which would enable a global self-destruct sequence to be sent out, invalidating the encryption methods used by all existing devices. This would be used in the event that the upcoming encryption methods for the Blu-ray DVDs is ever broken as spectacularly as the old DVD method was.
I am reminded of a high-level summit attended by myself and several of my sixth-grade friends, where we concluded that it was unbelievably unfair that we had absolutely no idea how the act of sexual intercourse was actually consummated. To remedy the situation, it was decided that someone should persuade a girl to get naked and show us all the details. Although there was unanimous consent by all participants that this research project would have been a highly productive path to take, unfortunately, serious implementation details interfered with the actual completion of the goals: that is, we couldn't get a single girl to agree to help us with our study.

In a similar vein, I can't imagine who in the world the movie and music industries think is actually going to buy these crippled, spying-on-their-owners, self-destructing devices to replace perfectly good DVDs — or BitTorrent, if it comes to that. The most charitable explanation is that the various technical people involved in this know that it is all bullshit, but they are doing exactly what they were told to by their bosses. It won't work, fellas.

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