Rebuttal to Chris Lanier’s "Corrections" on AACS

aacs logoUPDATED: After reading over Chris’ “corrections” to my post on The Media Center Show Delves into DRM, I’ve come to the conclusion that his statements are misleading. Let me quote the AACS: “Advanced Access Content System is being designed to support the ability to make recordings of content, as authorized.” I think that statement says it all. AACS is being used in next-gen DVDs and will be supported in Windows Vista, but that DOES NOT mean that AACS defines the usage of the content, only the Content Publisher can (referring to points 2 & 3 of his remarks). Bottom line: “Managed copies” is a feature, not a guaranteed right. Plus, we don’t have control over how much flexibility the Content Publishers want to give PC users. If they want to limit the playback to one PC, they can; or, if they want to do what’s theoretically possible, and that’s being able to stream the video to other protected devices, they can as well (which I’m all for). And his last point, is half right. If a Content Publisher allows PC users to make a managed copy and allows Windows Media Player to transcode the copy as a secured Windows media file for use on other compatible devices, then he’s right… for the most part that is “flow.” But if users will be limited to one format, which is a different scenario than we have today, where we can take just about any type of digital media and convert it to a variety of third party formats/codecs to use with our different gadgets, then that’s not really “flow” in the sense we have grown accustom to.

UPDATE: As expected, Chris had a few more comments on the topic that can be found here, but the point that gets me, is why does a person who is privy to information (that may or may not be accurate) be critical of the efforts of people trying to get to the bottom of this? He points to a recent TG Daily article, but the following statement confirms that a “defined base” of capabilities has not been set in stone and is theoritical at this point.

The point of contention for managed copy boils down to the omitted language from the following excerpt from the AACS Technical Overview document, which the document itself admits to not specifying: “In addition,” the document states on its final page, “content owners can authorize uses of AACS content in other, unspecified ways as part of an online transaction. As a rule, if the transaction requires the use of AACS-defined keys such as device keys or media keys, the AACS specification applies, and the specification defines a minimum support level for that transaction in every AACS device.” The “minimum support level” referred to here is a sort of contract that guarantees that the user of a licensed disc is offered some kind of backup service, as Warner Bros. SVP Steve Nickerson told us last Friday. But since the AACS specifications are not yet complete, specifications for this minimum level have not yet been written. Microsoft has told HP the minimum level is where the “mandatory” element is already being planned; Warner Bros., coinciding with other studios’ position on the subject, disagrees. For its part, Microsoft has not yet provided comment on this subject, though may do so soon.TG Daily

UPDATE 2: Video Business Online raises doubts on “mandatory” managed copies being fully implemented.

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