DVD copyright protection is “anti-consumer”

In a scathing article on the high-definition DVD format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, BusinessWeek Online, in an article by David H. Holtzman, argues that the “real battle isn't between Sony and Microsoft and their chosen formats, it's between the manufacturers and us — the consumers, the ones who ultimately pay for it all.

“And the battle is over Digital Rights Management (DRM), because in addition to increased storage, these new disks are packed full of copy-protection functions, some of which impair our ability to use the content we pay for, the way we like and are legally entitled to.”

The BusinessWeek article cites a particularly heavy-handed copy protection scheme called BD+ used in Sony's Blu-ray system that can automatically download new crypto if the old one is broken. “But there's an ominous feature buried in this so-called protection mechanism: If a particular brand of player is cryptographically ‘compromised,’ the studio can remotely disable all of the affected players. In other words, if some hacker halfway across the globe cracks Sony's software, Sony can shut down my DVD player across the Net.”

Calling the current DRM systems “anti-consumer,” BusinessWeek noted that the next-generation DVD technology “reflects what the studios really want, which is no copying of their material at all, for any reason. They're clearly willing to take active and unpleasant measures to enforce this.”

BusinssWeek's advice to the industry: “Build a minimal DRM, enough to deter people from casual copying. Then, grit your teeth and bear it.”