Secure Video Processor Alliance not about to take Apple’s living room incursion lying down

“Meet Jas Saini. He’s chairman of the Secure Video Processor Alliance — an alliance whose members are not about to take Apple’s incursion into the home entertainment and content multiplexing market lying down,” David Berlind blogs for ZDNet.

“The battle to be your content multiplexer is on. It’s a battle that most people don’t even know is taking place. But it is. And it’s too early to declare a winner. What is a content multiplexer? It’s the device — essentially a cache — that lives at the nexus of the converging worlds of computer technology and the entertainment industry. Think of it as the train station through which all content — for example, a movie — arrives into your home and is then subsequently distributed to other consumption componentry. Apple’s iTunes software is one of the most well known examples. Via its Internet-based connection, it can take delivery of content from the iTune Music Store and distribute it to other components. In addition to being able to burn music to a CD for use on a CD player, it can also distribute content to Apple’s portable playback devices (iPods), other computers running the iTunes software, and, announced last week, to a device that lives in your home entertainment center — a device that Apple has codenamed iTV. Last week, Apple announced that movies would be available through the iTunes music store — thereby expanding the scope of content types that iTunes can aggregate and distribute,” Berlind writes.

“In hopes of giving the cable companies and PVR companies a fighting chance in the war to be the dominant content multiplexer, the Secure Video Processor Alliance (the SVP Alliance) has established a hardware-based anti-piracy standard that it says will be embedded in a great many consumer devices (PVRs, portable music and video players, big screen displays, etc.) moving forward. In a podcast interview (accessible by way of streaming or download using the embedded player at the top of this blog), Jas Saini, told me of how the technology is better than software approaches to anti-piracy (like Apple’s FairPlay) because of the way it’s embedded in the silicon from companies like Texas Instruments, ST Micro, and Broadcom (each of whom is an Alliance member).” Berlind writes.

“This along with the Alliance’s 35-member strong roster (currently excludes some big players like Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and TiVo) and yesterday’s announcements that compliant-products are soon to be delivered could turn cable TV and PVR providers into more attractive partners for content publishers like movies studios and record labels that struggle with piracy. Especially now that the software-based approaches from both Microsoft and Apple have proven fallible. Can the Alliance and its growing membership stage a come from behind win? Saini thinks so. I’m not so sure. Listen to the podcast to find out how Saini responds to a pretty tough line of questioning,” Berlind writes.

Full article and podcast here.

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  1. What is the difference between hardware encryption and software encryption with regard to DRM?

    They both can be circumvented. However, Software DRM can be easily modified, it is more difficult to update hardware encryption once it is broken.

    Also, hardware encryption is simply software/algorthm on a chip.

    I still remember the old 5.25″ floppy days where software was shipped with a laser hole physically placed on a floppy and the software checked for an unreadable sector. Even that protection scheme was broken.

  2. Al… I remember the old 5.25 floppys also…. you could beat that protection scheme with a piece of masking tape…

    Not that I ever did mind you! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    MDN word is “Data”

    you’re seriously freaking me out with this MDN…. I mean it.

  3. Sorry, did I not see an HDMI port on the back of the iTV?

    Doesn’t HDMI include HDCP?

    This is just another special interest group trying to stop the general purpose computer from infringing on their market. Let’s see how long it takes before they go running to their chosen paid-for whores in Congress to whine about unfair competition.

  4. So – this guy and a few of his buddies want to control the living room with some hardware from TI and Broadcom? Hey, my Aunt Edith wants to control the living room, too, but you don’t see her out announcing vaporware…

    If you guys want to create a great user-friendly device, you don’t start by calling it “a cache that lives at the nexus of the converging worlds of computer technology and the entertainment industry”.

    That’s just wrong, man.

  5. The whole point of the existence of these guys (SVP) is nothing more than to limit casual consumer usage of entertainment content because piracy has become the boogyman of the entertainment industry. Their paranoia equates casual sharing with piracy.

    In the days of vinyl, people would loan friends LPs and singles. In the heyday of reel-to-reel tape, people recorded stuff and gave tapes to friends. When cassettes (and later CDs) became the norm, people did the same thing.

    It’s a social phenomena called sharing.

    It was that social sharing (not file sharing) that was at the center of the success of the original Napster. It was also at the center of record music sales at the same because this sharing (via Napster) was a better music promotional tool than “word-of-mouth” or any typical form of music promotion/advertising. It was a try-it-before-you-buy-it, “Don’t take my word for it. Listen for yourself.” form of promotion that no amount of money can buy.

    Which makes me wonder if all the anti-piracy drivel over the past few years is being instigated by the advertising industry. In hindsight, I realize it was the advertising industry, not the music industry, that had the most to lose from Napster’s success.

    This, more than anything else, has cemented the notion that the entertainment industries (particularly the music industry) are run by easily-influenced, short-sighted, bean-counters. They may have business degrees, PhD’s, and years of business acumen, but being educated, smart and experienced doesn’t make you immune from doing stupid things.

  6. Those who are not fans of DRM of any kind should be extremely leery of this man and the corporation of NDS.

    Rupert “I want to rule the world” Murdoch, who owns NDS, is green-lighting this project and he could very well succeed. He has the money, power, and influence to get an audience with all of the major content providers.

    As the owner of DirecTV, a vertical market much like the iTunes Store, Murdoch was tormented for years by those who used computers to hack into and unlock all the channels on the DirecTV IC-embedded cards. His engineers finally foiled the hackers using incremental updates until they finally closed the analog hole.

    Closing that hole was a tremendous success for Dr. Jas Saini and now Murdoch is telling all of the major content providers that he can do the same for them and while he might have their ears for the moment, Saini is meeting with the major chip makers to convince them to add Secure Video Processors to the silicon mix.

    What the content providers have to ask themselves is, do they want to allow NDS (Murdoch by proxy) to become the sole traffic cop on the media distribution highway. Think Gates and his MS-DOS licensing coup with PC builders.

    Because if they opt in, then every device manufactured that does not contain an SVP could become a doorstop. Best case scenario for the technology developers who don’t opt in, will be dumbed-down content.

    News Corp, also owned by Murdoch, has stated they would like to charge 30 bucks for a single HDTV pay-per-view movie! When you own a vertical market, you can charge whatever you want and run it the way you see fit.

  7. Don, yeah – I saw that, too. And I wondered: does the group actually <u>exclude</u> Apple and Microsoft? Or does the group <u>not include</u> them? Big difference. In that usage, “exclude” would mean “barred from” – the two would not be allowed to join. I suspect they meant “not including either”, as neither asked, or was asked, to join and thus they are not members.

    I suspect this is a group that got together, was not taken seriously by the major players, and established a ‘standard’ that nobody has gotten around to implementing yet. Too late, too slow, too little clout, and now a larger player – Apple – has come along with an actual product that makes them redundant. This is not a case of the “battle to be your content multiplexer is on” so much as a case of ‘an army strolled in, set up camp, and took over’. There’s no “battle”. They don’t have a product, they don’t have a vendor, they don’t have a prototype. Maybe MS can get away with blunting the progress of a new product by claiming they have something just like it – but better – coming Real Soon Now, but this group has just been buried.

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