Video broadcast flags: The sequel

2019-03-01 02:03:04

By Barry Fox IT SHOULD have been the entertainment industry’s best-kept secret. However, in February a hacker known only as Arnezami found a key to the encryption system protecting the latest high-definition DVDs against pirates and published it online – just three months or so after the new players went on sale. Attempts to have the key removed from websites backfired and it quickly spread, even appearing in artwork and songs and on T-shirts. To make matters worse, other hackers soon discovered that, in some DVD players, by disconnecting a chip inside the machines they could circumvent their encryption system entirely. Yet such setbacks aren’t deterring the industry from trying to make copy protection work. Worried by the fresh opportunities that digital broadcasting creates for pirates to copy and swap films and videos on the internet, the industry – along with a conglomeration of TV studios, broadcasters and consumer electronics manufacturers – is quietly pressing ahead with plans that could transform the way we watch TV. Their idea is to add a hidden label to every digital TV broadcast. This will be read by a secure chip in the TV receiver in your living room and place restrictions on what you can do with a programme – whether it can be copied, say, or even recorded in the first place. The studios or broadcasters will control these restrictions. If the technology works as planned, it should help prevent pirates from making illegal copies of movies or TV shows and distributing them on the web. Innocent viewers will be affected too, however,