Copyright Protection Technical Working Group Announces DVD Encryption Achievement

(Joint Release From the Co-Chairs of the Copyright Protection Technical Working Group)

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, October 29, 1996. The multi-industry Copyright Protection Technical Working Group (CPTWG) today announced that its subcommittee on DVD technology has taken an important step forward in the search for an effective system to prevent unauthorized copying of motion pictures and other filmed entertainment on prerecorded DVD-video. Controls will be achieved through a scrambling scheme based on encrypting the content on the discs, and licensing the technology for decryption. The industries intend to ask Congress to adopt legislation to prohibit the circumvention of this copy control technology, and other technologies as they are developed and implemented.

The industries, while noting the importance of this first step, also emphasized the scope of the task that remains to be done to protect copyrighted content in transmissions to the home and between devices, from analog to digital formats, and in prerecorded music. Other CPTWG subcommittees are addressing these unresolved technical issues, and a parallel committee -- The Joint Policy Committee -- is working on policy and legislative recommendations.

"We are pleased that a means has been found to allow motion pictures on DVD to be protected by encryption," said IBM's Alan Bell, who is co-chair for the DVD subcommittee. "Most importantly, it is an effective method that will not undermine consumers' enjoyment of the product. Manufacturers who want to play DVDs on their systems can obtain a license for the encryption system. But this approach will allow makers of player and recording devices to elect not to play back motion pictures protected using this system."

"We also look forward," Bell added, "to cooperative efforts of our four industries with the objective of developing similarly innovative and effective protection solutions for transmissions, prerecorded music and analog to digital copying."

"Equipment manufacturers who wish to have their machines play encrypted DVD-video will be in a position to get a license to do so," said co-chair Chris Cookson of Warner Bros. "They will then also be obliged to have their machines respond to the licensed copy control measures."

"The task is not easy," said Fritz Attaway, senior vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America. "We need to address the copying of the familiar analog videocassettes onto new digital machines, transmission of unprotected digital material from satellite and cable systems, and much more. But if anyone can get it done, it's the impressive group of companies and individuals who have been involved in this time-consuming and complicated process."

Bruce Turnbull, counsel to Matsushita Electric Corporation of America and a JPC co-chair, noted that "in the video context, the contemplated legislation should also provide some specific assurances that certain reasonable and customary home recording practices will be permitted, in addition to providing penalties for circumvention."

Bell and co-chair Bob Lambert of The Walt Disney Co. said that while the encryption-based system is still undergoing final evaluation by some parties, the DVD subcommittee has concluded provisionally that it meets the goals and criteria established for it with respect to back-to-back digital copying of motion picture content. The subcommittee recognizes that improvements may be made in this particular system and that alternative scrambling systems may be developed and adopted in the future.

The copy-protection system identified by the DVD subcommittee uses a data scrambling technique initially proposed by the DVD Consortium, an entity established to disseminate the basic DVD technology. Representatives of Intel and other computer companies recommended that the computing power for descrambling be reduced. The DVD Consortium worked with members of the computer industry to implement a modification proposed by IBM that reduced the demand on computational power substantially, without compromising its copy protection value.

"The provisional recommendation on a picture based encryption scheme is a welcome first step in crafting a multimedia copy protection system, said David Stebbings, Senior Vice President of Technology for the Recording Industry Association of America, and CPTWG co-chair. "While it provides a technical means of protecting audio and video, the industries will continue to work on methods for safeguarding audio content, including music videos, motion picture soundtracks and prerecorded music generally following descrambling and in other contexts. We certainly look forward to the CPTWG continuing to tackle these and other outstanding issues."

The co-chairs said that the CPTWG itself will not be involved in implementation and licensing of the encryption-based system. However, work is underway to establish an independent non-profit entity to assume such responsibilities and institute a non-discriminatory, nominal cost-based licensing arrangement. Developers of the encryption-based system may assume these responsibilities on an interim basis.

Co-chair William Connolly, consultant to Sony Corporation, noted that: "the other subcommittees of the CPTWG will continue to meet to work on answers to the remaining copy control issues as specified above." With respect to other products, Connolly said that CPTWG subcommittee activity will include work on copy control systems for the encoding, recording, playback and display of copyrighted products, aimed at making available copy control measures for the transmission of those copyrighted products from digital-to-digital, digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital.

The CPTWG and JPC were formed in April of this year, after representatives of the motion picture and consumer electronics industries had announced joint plans to ask the Congress for legislation on the subject of digital copying of audiovisual material. A June 21 report by the CPTWG led to the formation of five technical subcommittees, each charged with reviewing a specific set of issues.