Thursday, January 13, 2005

DVD Copy Control Association Out of Control

The DVD Copy Control Association (DVDCCA) controls the gateway to any company wishing to build a product around playback of DVD content, specifically Content Scramble System (CSS) encrypted content. While DVD's can be created without CSS, most Hollywood movies employ the CSS technology in what they claim is an attempt to prevent copyright infringement. Consequently, a DVD player becomes largely useless without access to CSS encrypted content.

In truth, CSS does nothing to prevent copyright infringement. DVD's can easily be copied, CSS intact, and burned to new DVD media or distributed through the Internet. As long as the end user has a player capable of decrypgting CSS content, the bit-for-bit copy will work just as well as the original. The ultimate purpose of CSS licensing in the United States is to trample fair-use as defined by the Supreme Court.

So where are we today? While we can have iTunes happily playing iTunes Music Store purchased titles or even MP3's sampled from a legitimately purchased CD, the DVD CCA claims that we can't do the same with DVD content.

During the past couple of weeks, I've been setting up a MythTv system to provide a centralized music library, dvd library, Tivo-like functions, and a variety of other functions. In my research for that project, I stumbled onto Kaleidescape. Kaleidescape makes an absolutely incredible looking product for the sole purpose of building a DVD library. In fact, they're one of the few companies I've seen doing it. They even have a DVD CCA license to the CSS system.

So what's the problem? The DVD CCA SUED THEM!

Mark Cuban has it mostly right. Hollywood better get the message and change their ways or we'll find unencumbered content and technology. And, our democratically elected representatives better stand up and take notice, or they'll eventually find themselves without a job.

Somewhwere, someday a broadcast flag honoring Tivo will prevent a housewife from watching her recording of Days of Our Lives. It will be the beginning of the end for this kind of garbage.

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Distributed Home Audio Done Right

It looks like someone had some of the same thoughts I've been having. While I just started building my MythTV box last night hoping to customize it for a variety of purposes including whole house audio, someone beat me halfway to the punch.

Sonos has created a beautifully designed wireless system to distribute music throughout your home. Each system includes an amplifier, audio inputs, speaker outputs, a 4 port ethernet switch, and a wireless link to other systems in your home. Using their wireless controller (it's even waterproof), you can direct any PC audio to any Sonos system in your home.

Now, if they'd get video functions onto this same box like a DVD jukebox, recording, etc., I'd be dumping my MythTV development attempts and going with them. Best of luck, Sonos.