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back to article UK operation patents DVD lockdown

Liquid11, better known for phone-number aggregation service SwitchboardFree, has got a patent on a DVD lockdown technology that enables pay-to-play without mucking about with proprietary hardware or risking internet sharing of security codes. The premise is a DVD with some free content, and some that is only unlocked once a call …

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Pirate

So how does it protect...

...against players and play software able to jump directly to a particular title set? From what I understand, since standard DVD player hardware can use this system, it implies that the "premium" content is not encrypted on the fly beyond the DVD-standard CSS system. Which means it wouldn't be difficult to extract the premium content with tools already available to the adventurous. I have to ask if these people took the ease of DVD piracy into consideration.

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Linux

I was given a disk with this 'protection' on it

Or maybe it was something similar. It was a freebie in a shop somewhere anyway.

Imagine my surprise when VLC played it without any hassle, apparently it only protects the content if you play it on a DVD player and not if your player application plays the tracks directly.

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Joke

hmm

stolen credit card + stolen mobile (or payg sim) + disk copier = pwned

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Silver badge

Hmmm...

I hope that in the USA they still get the phone number to link to the card number, otherwise you could use a prepaid credit card to get the unlock codes, and then bin the card and share the codes with all your friends.

Plus, CLI is all well and good, but at the moment calls breaking out from VOIP can have some very strange numbers, and of course be faked to contain any number you like.

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Pirate

Easily bypassed

I've seen such a system in use and although it secures the content on a dvd player you can easily bypass that secuity on a pc without anything fancy.

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Joke

But the important thing is

can Jacqui Smith claim it on her MP's expenses

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Coat

@Harry, Steve

Why bother with the fake numbers and prepaid cards? Existing software can get the premium content out without any need for that (and this is provable because of the DVD Video standard--no additional encryption allowed).

If you wish for a demonstration, just look for the coat with an Eee in one pocket and a USB DVD drive in the other.

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Thumb Up

That is very clever

One of the few patents that actually deserve to be granted.

It might not actually work in the real world, but it's a really elegant solution.

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Flame

Oh dear.

This runs on regular hardware? There's a reason this hasn't been done before: It'll be cracked within about five minutes of release.

So they've managed to code some license system that runs within the standard DVD VTS (how, I do not know), this will be very easy to reverse engineer (if it's even possible) so you'll see keygens popping up online quite quickly.

As another commenter also mentioned, there's no way they've been able to encrypt the content, so you can just watch it on a computer anyway.

There's a reason a lot of time and money has been spent on developing hardware DRM, you just can't secure the standard setup in the way the distributors want.

In the end though, most non-techie people will purchase these things legitimately, and it is a great idea, so bring it on.

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Pirate

And the Titanic was unsinkable

Bye bye, next useless DRM please.

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It's DIVX all over again

When are they going to realise it won't bloody well work? It'll last just long enough for someone to rip the content:

Either by breaking the encryption (which must be compromised as it's clear what sort of structure the key will have - if it has a phone number and a credit card number in it then we can exclude other characters), or;

By intercepting the content as it streams from the player to the display. HDCP isn't mandatory yet and most pirated content users would be perfectly happy with a slightly degraded copy.

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Stop

Anyone remember DIVX?

Not DivX, DIVX - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIVX_(Digital_Video_Express)

A pay-per-view DVD system that required special players whereby you paid to 'unlock' the disc for 48 hours.

Why would someone want to resurrect a 10 year old system/idea that failed miserably?

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Boffin

Temporary lockdown only

This type of lock will only last until someone gets too annoyed with shelling out extra cash to pay for the "premium" content. Then you will see the emergence of work-arounds to bypass the lock. When someone builds a better lock, it just takes a better lockpick to open it. "All this has happened before and will happen again..."

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Or

You could run the disk in VLC and run which ever section of the disk you wanted?

Or perhaps your box is a MythTV box where it just throws away the rule book on DVD access.

Cute idea though, depends too much on the DVD protection crap though.

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Silver badge

VoIP?

So I wonder what happens if I call them using VoIP with a spoofed caller ID - what number do they get displayed? Not that I'd bother making the phone call anyway, but it could be a big hole in the system. Credit card numbers are harder to fake, although for the dodgy types that steal such numbers, using one of them and then putting the unlock codes on the net would somewhat defeat the system.

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Pirate

Stolen Cards?

This may work fine until someone passes around unlock codes created/purchased using stolen credit card numbers.

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Jobs Horns

pre-pa yed credit cards

"In the US they will use credit card numbers..."

Have any of these guys ever been to the US?

You go in to any grocery store and for $10 you can buy a credit card.

You then use this to pay for the unlock code and put the two values on the web - job done.

Phone numbers are that easy too.

Haven't these people got a single brain cell between them?

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An the Algorithm?

If I know my Phone number is 123456 and the unlock code I get is 9, surely if I know enough people we can work out the algorithm?

The bit in the middle is the only bit we don't know, so if X=123456 and Z=9 it shouldn't be too hard to work out Y, especially once you have a few unlock codes. Either that or someone will stick the disk into their PC and find a way to uncover the algorithm that way.

Sounds like the algorithm may well change between DVD's though, so perhaps it will be more effective than I first assumed, but if someone wants to copy it/watch it for free, they will find a way.

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Paris Hilton

0_o They have "caller ID"?

How does it know who's using the phone?

Paris - because. Just because.

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Thumb Down

Why??

I have seen one of these dvd's before, and by selecting the correct track number from the remote, you can jump straight to the content without entering the password?

dont see the point in it personally!!!

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Go

Waste of time and money

All the evils of DVD protection go away if you rip it with one of the many free rippers and burn a copy.

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Gates Horns

Won't work

because these companies touting this new 'protection' racket don't seem to realise that the user has access to the physical content, i.e. the disc.

As others have said anyone with slightly more understanding than the average pc user will be able to copy the disc and extract chapters and so forth.

Another copy protection system pwned methinks!

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Anonymous Coward

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeey

It's old DIVX again! Incidentally, how come everyone thinks this is a great system when it's called "iTunes movie rental" but a bad one now this company is doing it?

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Ru
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@Ben Tasker, Re: "An the Algorithm?"

Trying to crack a good cryptographic hash function is so far beyond an exercise in futility I wouldn't know where to start pointing out what a hopeless idea this would be.

But as everyone else has pointed out, if the system doesn't need special hardware then it is inherently useless anyway.

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Thumb Down

Security by obscurity

I assume this will use the DVD VM command set to process the unlock code and allow access to the content via the menu. The content itself can only be CSS protected and will be easily ripped.

This is just security by obscurity, similar to that used by a certain Freeview based soft pr0n channel. If you known the correct PIDs and your STB / application allows you to enter them manually, then its free to view.

Not that its worth watching anyway, let alone paying for.

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Anonymous Coward

Waste of time

My brother used to get DVDs attached to catalogues for questionable material sent in the mail which had a PIN protection and it was piss easy to bypass it.

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Flame

Wasnt Circuit City in on DIVX?

Didnt they recently die a horrible death?

Heres hoping lightning strikes twice!

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Anonymous Coward

Tooo easily pawned

One time credit card number = code pawned.

Calling from a phone box = code pawned.

A good example of innovative thinking, but too easily pawned.

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Good enough and simple - I approve

No protection actually works - anyone who can be bothered will get a cracked version from the web.

More secure safedisc type stuff makes copies attractive, because they've not got this rubbish infecting it and are thus easier to use.

This though - it's barely protected, good enough to stop your mum who got it on her copy of womans own, but isn't complicated enough to actually cause any problems.

Who cares if you can get around the system - they're just after the low hanging fruit.

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Silver badge

It went down well in porn?

Was that because it made the disc cheaper? You know - you buy a cheap disk full of previews, that you have to pay to unlock the full versions of. Except that you bung it in your PC's DVD drive and the lockdown goes all to shit. So you've basically just bought a really cheap DVD.

Duh. Of course it was popular! If you start giving away discs with full versions of shit under "lockdown," everyone's gonna get them!

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@Charles

I completely agree. If there is no new hardware/firmware involved any lock-down must be based on virtual machine coding and PUOPs. There are plenty of free and paid-for software tools available which will extract video and audio streams from VOBs and strip PUOPs (which cannot be preserved if you demux the streams).

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Anonymous Coward

Pure BS

There is no way to lockdown a DVD beyond the current (now utterly useless) technology already employed... which has long been cracked wide open.

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Eschew content

I've no problem with DVD lockdowns: I refuse to watch 'em!

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Paris Hilton

To answer two of your questions..

"The real question is if punters actually want DVDs with additional, premium, content on them."

No, never, never, not ever.

"Technically the solution is one of the more elegant attempts to improve the DVD business."

Bollocks, its an attempt to wring more money out of Joe Public

And a Freudian slip....

"purveyors of porn titles where the access to premium content has apparently gone down well"

Paris, she goes down well

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Go

Lets applaud real commitment & innovation

Being in the DVD replication business I can vouch that this technology actually works and does indeed generate additional revenues – several of my customers use this already. It is true that that there are other locking pin mechanisms out their although it seems to us that DVDPay is the best currently available. Frankly the time and sheer technical effort it would take to get around the DVDPay system doesn’t warrant it as I’m sure you could download the content from a bit torrent site and the fact that this has been proven within the piracy prone niche DVD arena speaks volumes. I know that as this is scaled out across more mainstream DVD applications it will bring real benefits to both the employing content providers and us consumers. For a couple of pounds to watch some good film content is it worth trying to get round it?

Surely we should applaud real commitment and innovation during these economic times, especially as they’re a UK company and this looks like it could be used globally.

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Pirate

Um... free porn with sunday papers...

Er, "give away with sunday papers"... "went down well with the porn industry".

So we can 'look forward' to porn DVDs dropping out of the sunday supplement, carefully locked down so that the "call now" banner flashes up just as she's undoing his trousers or something?

And its completely unlikely that teenagers will be more than happy to "share" their parents' phone numbers so they can 'enjoy the premium content' as the actress said to the bishop?

Riiiiight.... I can already see my teenage sons hanging around in the hall waiting for the paper to arrive....

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@ readers of Paul Gooderham's comment

Spot the shill!

(Not exactly 'Where's Wally' complexity).

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Globally ?

Oh you mean a US corp realises that they didn't invent the tech, buys out the UK company, directors make a packet, closes down UK operation, all tech moved to US, redbranded as their own invention.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, lets all applaud

Because if this becomes widespread, people using VLC to watch movies will get all their DVDs for almost free. A great idea, if you ask me.

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