Blu-ray Wes Novack on 23 Jun 2007

BD+ (plus) Blu-ray Disc protection now available

BD+ (plus) Blu-ray Disc protection now available
BDPlusBD+ Technologies LLC has recently announced that their BD+ content protection system is now available for implementation on Blu-ray Disc titles. BD+ will provide yet another layer of “protection” to the Blu-ray Disc format, in addition to AACS (Advanced Access Control System) and ROM-Mark. DailyTech also covered the release and provided the following information.

“Issued by BD+ Technologies are system specifications, key management rules, test specifications and various agreements. Also launched are a key issuing center, testing centers for players, and testing facilities for disc playability.”

“BD+ differs from AACS in its complexity. Effectively an embedded virtual machine inside player hardware, BD+ allows content providers to include executables on Blu-ray Discs to perform specific, content protecting functions. For example, the BD+ virtual machine could run diagnostics on the host environment to see if the disc player has been modified, or to verify that the keys have not been changed.”

Protection from the consumer or the pirate?

From looking at the history of DRM, we can see that content protection systems rarely thwart the efforts of pirates. I predict that we will still see copies of BD+ protected Blu-ray movies appearing on Bit Torrent trackers and news groups in the near future. Of course, this will only occur if the highly talented online community is able to develop methods to circumvent or disable BD+, but they are a highly talented bunch who is ready to take a crack at this difficult battle.

Ouch that hurts! says the Blu-ray consumer

So if all of this content protection is not going to stop the pirates, what will it do? For one, it raises the price of every Blu-ray Disc title that uses the technology, as the movie studios must pay licensing fees and other charges in order to implement the “protection”. This price is passed on to the consumer in one way or another.

Additionally, it will limit the content manipulation options of legitimate consumers. BD+ could effectively prevent you from making any backup copies or transfers of your legally purchased Blu-ray media. A feature named “managed copy” could allow for some manipulation, but we’ll have to wait and see how well (or bad) that turns out. Either way, the BD+ technology is an anti-consumer “feature”, that will pass even more costs onto Blu-ray customers.

Compatibility issues with BD+ Discs and current Blu-ray players could also arise, as past history has demonstrated that new content protection mechanisms can easily throw off playback functionality. For now, much of this is speculative and we will have to wait for BD+ Blu-ray protected discs to hit the market before drawing any final conclusions.

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