Digging yourself a hole: Piracy prevention get its wrong, again

Piracy sometimes pioneers new markets, you know…
Content companies still don’t seem to get the way the web works. If you don’t like a story, bullying bloggers makes it spread rather faster while drawing the attention of mainstream media. The case of the charming acronym based AACS vs. Digg+world is a case in point. The ‘Advanced Access Content System’ is the copy protection used on HD-DVD, Blu-Ray etc to stop people copying discs and punting them round the net etc. The CSS system used on DVDs is infamously ineffective and was cracked by free speech/fair use hero DVD Jon so that he could play his DVDs on his Linux based PC. AACS is much much tougher and more restrictive, both for potential pirates and users. There is little prospect of simple software utilities like DeCSS et al to rip, backup or outright copy HD-DVDs etc. Not to mention the fact that the actual 25gb+ files will choke even the fastest broadband connection. However, once files are in the wild it is likely that they will be squished into MPEG4ish stuff for those who are indifferent to picture quality (just like today’s DiVX versions of DVDs) for bittorrentness.

Big deal. This kind of thing has hardly harmed this industry thus far overall, and attempts to avoid it will require much more insidious content lockdowns that will only annoy legit consumers. The actual hack from the Doom9 denizens requires someone to open up an Xbox 360 and solder some altered firmware into it to get disc unlock codes or something. As you can see it is rather involved and obscure. Rather than letting it remain obscure the AACS and assorted goons went on the warpath, trying to shut down bloggers, blackmailing Digg etc. Now millions more are aware not only of the not particularly useful hexadecimal key but also the ongoing war of attrition between hackers and the AACS. How silly. The AACS should just keep updating its keys when discs are mastered to make piracy annoying to the casual user and realise that the nature of these things means that anyone who really wants to rip these things will (as they always have).

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