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

    Doesn’t HDMI include HDCP?

    The back of the iTV—at least the prototype version Apple displayed at last week’s special event—provides ports for power (the power supply itself is internal, so there’s no bulky brick); Ethernet; HDMI (a single connector that outputs digital audio and video, common on many HD televisions); component video (video divided into three components, a connection common on many recent televisions); analog stereo audio (left and right RCA connectors); Toslink digital-audio; and USB 2.0

    HDCP is a content protection scheme that scrambles the video until it reaches a HDCP approved device with a DRM chip.

    The DRM chips are licensed, have changing keys etc., so the manufacter has to comply with the HDCP rules to protect the content to the screen.

    HDMI is just a advanced multi-purpose delivery system, it can handle all sorts of content formats, DRMed with HDCP or not.

    Now all the good content in full 1080p (or i) resolution is supposed to be protected with HDCP, if a end device is detected as not HDCP compliant, the content resolution is supposed to drop to a substancially inferior quality.

    If Apple gets approval from the monkeys controlling HDCP for the iTV, then it will have the DRM chip to talk to the DRM chip in the HDTV.

    Now it depends if Apple gets approval for their computers to carry HDCP, the DRM chip has to be in new Apple monitors. Also supposely the HDCP scheme has been broken already. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> But it works through EFI on Intel based Mac’s, it could be a bit hard to break.

    If the iTV gets the HDCP DRM chip and not the computers, then perhaps the iTV will have a iTunes menu which movies and TV shows can be ordered over the Ethernet connection.

    Perhaps the iTV movies can be transfered to a computer in the lower grade format to play on iPods.

    Hollywood is anti-computers, the Macrovision crack pissed them off good.

    They might stick to the cable box route as it doesn’t include a processor/OS people can control.

  2. leodavinci…
    Talk about drivel! Sharing in the day of vinyl and tape was very different than today, simply due to technology. In the day of vinyl, individuals didn’t have the technology to replicate pressed discs. The damage of sharing to sales wasn’t even a blip to the recording industry. Tape got their attention, and I even knew a guy in the day of 4-and 8-track tape that was prosecuted for selling compilation tapes. But even with the ease of copy that tape afforded, it was not a lossless process. Each generation of copying deteriorted the recording, so once again it didn’t pose a major threat to the profitability of the music industry. The sharing of tapes probably did, in fact, help sales because the quality was so bad that it did encourage people to go buy the original recording. Digital recording has changed everything, so you cannot relate today’s “sharing” with the old model of sharing. A digital file replicates identical to the original. There is no need to go buy a song that someone has “shared” with you today. Not only that, the internet allows a single person to “share” a recording with millions of people around the world. This is NOT your father’s sharing, so please don’t make these comparisons. Don’t get me wrong; the record industry has been corrupt for decades, so I am not not defending them. I just hate this illegitimate comparison to the “music sharing that we’ve always done”. It’s not the same.

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

    Yes you did. But HDMI and HDCP are two different things. one is a connector, the other is a way to prevent content from being copied.

    1. Content has a HDCP flag, which means it can only be sent out of a HDCP hardware device.
    (content = Blu-Ray, HD-DVD discs, hardware device = disc players, cable boxes, etc)

    2. Hardware devices send HDCP handshakes to HDCP Display devices. If the display is ok with HDCP, the hardware device sends out the best signal possible, and if the display device doesn’t have HDCP, then the hardware device sends out something less, if anything at all

    (hardware device = HiDef disc players, Cable boxes, and others, displays = HDTV’s, Projectors, and others.

    But in NO CASE would the HDCP display NOT display content from a non-HDCP compliant hardware device, such as the iTV’s HDMI output. If the device doesn’t ask for a HDCP handshake, the display assumes that no HDCP confirmation is needed, and will display whatever content is presented to it. By this I mean that the display device never initiates the HDCP handshake from whatever source is connected to it at the time.

    That’s not to say that when the iTV is released, it won’t be HDCP compliant, it may very well be.

  4. DLMeyer… “They don’t have a product, they don’t have a vendor, they don’t have a prototype”

    What are you talking about? Are you referring to Jas Saini and the SVP Alliance?

    This Alliance, if you haven’t noticed, includes ADB, AMD, Broadcom, NDS, Phillips, Samsung, SanDisk, Thomson, ATI, DirecTV, LG, Macrovision, NEC, and Texas Instruments to name a few.

    Notice they are hardware biased? Read their visionary statements for SVP to see how each of them are embracing this product.

    Apple and Microsoft’s DRM are software solutions, that’s why they aren’t invited to the party.

    Apple is not a content provider, they are a distributor who wraps content in a software-based DRM and we all know how effective that solution has been.

    SVP and it’s partners have raised a compelling argument that states Apple’s wrapper could be made irrelevant with a handshake between devices.

  5. Hm. What this will do is stop the ‘Mom & Pop” copiers from making a copy for their friends. A real pirate can easily buy – or make – technology that will defeat any hardware system. After all, speakers are analog audio and can be tapped; lcd’s are analog or digital and can be tapped.

    The result: NetFlix, BlockBuster, & al, get more business from rentals. The media providers, who are also legitimized pirates, reap *no* extra revenue. But they get to help cover the development cost and R&D. The only ones who make significant $ are the chip sellers – smart move TI…

    MW: “clear” as in ‘clear out the brain-dead media distributors (Fox, Murdoch, &c), and move on’

  6. A Check on Reality

    Quite frankly Reality, I personally am tired of people like you who glamorize pirates (thieves) and whose attitude is, let’s wait for the pirates to come save us.

    In the mean time the content providers just keep plugging away until they arrive at an overkill solution that screws us all over, including the pirates.

    We KNOW there are illegal ways to get this stuff, so you’re thoughts on the matter are as useful as turd in a teacup and as irrelevant as your reality.

    This thread would better serve us if we knew what we are up against and what options are on the table. The sooner I can see the way ahead, the sooner I can start working the phones and congressional email.

    As someone who makes a decent living under the Fair Use provision of the US copyright laws, I worry that if left to their own devices, copyright holders, i.e., content holders/providers and distributors, will kill this provision and life on the internet will become boring, real fast.

    Need a typical example of Fair Use in action? How about the 30-second preview of every song on iTunes Store. That can only occur under the Fair Use provision ’cause anything longer would require a license.

    Unless you are a creative, an artist, or someone who actually uses his mind and hands to create content, all that I have said probably went in one ear and out the other. However, see if this doesn’t give you a rise… stick your fingers in your ears and blow it out your ass…

    MDN MW: wrong, as in just

  7. Spark,

    You’re right that it’s not my “father’s sharing.” It’s mine. I’m familar with the music technology advances you point out, having lived as an adult through the introductions, risings and the eventual passings of them.

    IMHO, quality of sound reproduction has had little to do with music sharing, however music sharing manifests itself.

    Please be aware that I am not justifying nor condoning piracy.

    I just do not equate casual sharing (regardless of the technology used) with piracy.

    Unlike the music industry (among others). Who appear to be doing so simply because of an often uttered, but unproven, assumption that the widespread use of digital technology by consumers negatively impacts the music industry because “a digital file is as good as the original.” That is a very simplistic explanation for what is really a complicated (and often obfuscated by the music industry itself) situation.

    The “digital file is as good as the original and therefore nobody will buy a song that has been shared” mantra is a manifestation of the music industry’s fear, not a conclusion based on facts derived from careful research.

  8. It really doesn’t matter if the Whatever Alliance is “lying down,” standing up, or in a seat. Apple will out-manuever any 35-member committee into the living room, just like iPod/iTunes/iTMS out-paced any “3-member” partnership in portable/digital music.

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