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Hardware Your Rights Online

Thomson's Vision: Smart Cards For Everything 106

Posted by timothy
from the your-smartcard-please dept.
ideaspin writes: "Thomson Multimedia is pushing the adoption of its smart card technology (SmartRight) in all kinds of devices ranging from TVs to PCs and set-top boxes -- basically, anything that might play digital media. Information Week has an article about it as does Webnoize(subscription only). This doesn't smell like something that would survive on the PC and consumers aren't going to be thrilled about the restrictions that such technology will bring -- no recording, limited archivability, no sharing and additional hardware for every viewing device. Interesting thing is that they are trying to convince the government to require the computer industry to adopt such a standard. Along with the copy protection schemes built into portable media and hard drives, this is one of the many ways that they are trying to lock down 'rogue' PC devices."
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Thomson's Vision: Smart Cards For Everything

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    No, you're confusing smart cards with social security numbers.

    ~~~

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't really understand what's the problem here. The technology exists for a very long time (I'm having 3 different SmartCards in my wallet now), the only problem was that manufacturers didn't put them into their hardware. That's all. If every PC contained a cardreader, you could use it to log on to the system. I helped to implement a system like that for the European Union in Brussels years ago, but the biggest problem was that the readers had to be bought separately (very expensive at the time), and were impossible to build in a portable (which was the main reason that we wanted the security system). Yes, this technology could be used to limit copy proctection. A video or mp3-file could be linked to a specific card, so that only a person with that card can watch/listen to it. Or you could have a suscription based system : you might be able to buy a prepaid-card that allows you to watch/listen for a specific amount of time. This would be a good deal for Napster. No more free downloads. These SmartCards will appear everywhere : magnetic bankcards are on the way out (here in Belgium at least), my medial data is already stored on a system like this, and the Belgian gevoernement is going to put this chip in our passports (ID-cards) in 2 years time ! If I wanted to build a system where you had to put your passport into the computer in order to prove your identity, so that you can access the system, download data/video/audio, charge your VISA-card or a prepaid card, ... I do have to right to do that. But if you don't like it, don't use it. Just don't be surprised that you can't access certain services anymore. The point is that this system isn't much more different than a username/password system, or your visa-card or whatever. If a service needs a prove of your identity, needs to charge you against your VISA-card or a prepaid card, or whatever ... there are already ways to do that. A SmartCard is just a more cleverder way to do that. It's possible for instance that the service provider (say, Napster) never knows your real name or your bankaccount, but it still needs to be sure that you have the correct permissions. Napster isn't really interested in your name, it just wants to make sure that your downloaded musicfile can only be listened by someone who possesses the SmartCard that was used to download it. Or they want to charge your VISA-card (or prepaid card) direcly, without ever knowing your actual name or account. FUD.
  • Okay, I see what you mean. Half points. The original poster wanted, I mean *needed* something that would allow arbitrary R/W ability to a given smartcard. What you have shown allows one to talk to a smartcard, and the programmable smartcards that come with those devices will let you read/write everything one them, but hey, guess what, the smart cards in your cell phone or pay TV won't let you R/W anything on them. Those $49 reader/writers won't let you get past that security restriction.

    Remember, smart cards are programmable. They can be programmed to not talk to strangers bascially...

    --
    Simon
  • There is no such thing as a "cheap smart card reader/writer". You are probably thinking of magnetic strip cards which have been around for ages and definately are *not* smart. Smart cards basically are tiny computers on a chip. You can talk to the smart card and communicate with it, but you certainly can't just read/write it's memory. In fact you have no direct access to it's memory at all. As someone else here mentioned, Smart cards are designed so that if you try to tamper with them (physically or whatever) thier memory will be erased. Program, memory contents, and encryption keys, gone...

    No one has found a practical attack yet. AFAIK.

    --
    Simon
  • Adding this kind of copy protection to PCs, set top, boxes etc is basically the same at the music industry's attempts at a secure digital format to replace CDs. You can't add take an existing product (i.e. CDs or PCs), add copy protection and expect it to succeed in the marketplace against it's un-secured cousins. Secured versions of existing tech offer no extra value for consumers. It's that simple.

    The only way to get copy protection into people's homes is to piggy back it on something new and cool that people might actually want. DVD being a good example. High quality movies, ~7 Gig disks. Something that wasn't possible or available before. People want that, can't get it elsewhere, and will put up with CSS and the other annoying copy protections features that come with it.

    --
    Simon
  • DirecTV hackers have been fooling with them for years. I don't know if they've recovered from DirecTV's checkmate as described in a Slashdot article back in January here [slashdot.org] or not though. Personally I'd get tired of playing the constant game of cat and mouse just to be able to watch pirated television much less use my computer. Everytime a good thing comes along another guy has to come along with a way to copy protect it. "Uggg make fire." "Ooh ugg. Ogg make fire last night. Ogg have patent. Ogg sue Uggg." What a stupid crazy world we live in.
  • I'll grant you the point that the Royalty checks might go down a bit - but when you make a penny or two from each CD sale (with CDs costing anywhere from $12-20 depending on the area, sales, etc...) - that's not much, unless you sell a few million copies. Add to the the fact that the record companies charge the ARTIST for promotion (ads) and concert venue rent, and all their other assorted "perks" - the possibility of an artist actually paying off those debts from income by royalty checks alone is minimal. This is why there are TShirt sales an why the admittance fee to a concert is so high. THe artist is trying to recoup some of the cost. I'd wager that most of the artist's actual income comes from these events, and is only marginally affected by royalties.

    Of course, the record companies may put quotas on the royalties - saying "we will only continue to back you and allow you to make records through us if you continue to sell X units a month" - because the record company itself needs to make money - and if they don't sell X copies, their overhead costs get too high...nothing we as customers or fans can do about that - not while taking the high road and protesting the price-fixing artist-screwing actions of the record industry.

    If there was a way to give a few bucks DIRECTLY to the bands I love - I'd do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the industry has all but outlawed this for most contracted artists.

    It's become a situation where the record industry can't lose - if customers don't buy CDs, the artist gets dropped, and if enough artists get dropped so that the company feels a pinch, they just grab some new slutty teenager or a few halfway decent looking guys/girls and pump out more schlock that the kiddies will buy. If the customers do buy CDs, it perpetuates the system, by enforcing to the record companies that price fixing is OK and screwing the artist over is OK, so long as we get our CDs.

    The whole system is corrupted in such a way that the already titanically rich music industry can't be attacked financially (read: where it hurts) because they just pass the losses on to the artists - whom most of us DON'T want to hurt.

    Personally, I refuse to buy new CDs. I get my music other ways. I get mp3s (mostly of bands that don't sell cds here in the states - but a few songs that I do enjoy by "local" bands), listen to Shoutcast streams (much more non-schlock out there on Shoutcast than on the actual airwaves), I buy used CDs of the artists I like, and attend a concert when I'm able. I wish I could pay DIRECTLY to some of the bands I enjoy most - but the option isn't available to me. My options are to do without much of the music I want, perpetuate a corrupt system by paying up to $20 to give a mere few cents to the artist, or to get my music in alternative ways that border on illegality at best, and at worst are blatantly illegal.

    <Increase Rant Threshhold by 2>
    I'm sick and tired of having schlock forced down my throat. I'm tired of being told what I should like. I make that decision. I don't like what the RIAA pushes. I don't like rap, hip-hop, r&b, dance, techno, "divas", boy-bands, girl-bands, blonde teenage singersluts, and the like. I like JPOP, Classical, "classic rock" (60's/70's stuff), and a little old-style blues and a dash of 80's "punk" thrown into the mix. I like music made by real instruments, as opposed to auto-generated on a beatbox. I like music made by a full band, rather than some guy with a few keyboards.

    That's what I like. That's not what the RIAA thinks I should like, but that's what *I* like.
    <End heightened rant threshhold>
  • Not correct... my DSS receiver, manufactured by RCA (aka Thomson) belongs to noone other than me.

    It's true that DSS providers will offer substantial discounts in return for a commitment to a certain amount of service, but I'm not aware of any "rental" service offered by the two remaining DSS companies.
  • They don't care about the few people that can crack it. As long as the majority don't know how to, they're scoring.

    This, of course, is a bad mistake. As soon as one person cracks it, for all intents and purposes, everybody has.

  • My java-ring (an Ibutton in a ring with a java computer embedded.) can hold a picture of me, a sample of my signature, and even a copy of my thumbprint for verification. I can tell the difference between the 5 ibuttons on my keyring easier than selecting a creditcard out of my wallet (color coding and the keyfob holder can easily be printed on during manufacture just like smartcards.) Why do I have multiples? I help engineer this stuff for work and myself, so I need several test cases, 99% of my stuff is done with the ring.. (BTW, by boss's new harley starts with not a key but an ibutton..)

    The multifunction as in analog/barcode is to help with systems that cant afford the insane pricing of the smartcard reader interface, ibuttons dont need that multifunction as the interface is basically free ($15.00 full retail price, in manufacturing quantity we pay $0.98) smartcard needs that multifunction because of it's poorly designed interface and exorbant cost of use/per card. (smartcards cost at a minimum when bought in a bulk of 500, $3.00 each. Ibuttons are from $2.00-$10.00 in onesey twoseys... it get's dirt cheap when in bulk.(32K version, we bought 100 pieces... for less than $2.00 each)

    by the way, ibuttons have been around for 4 years now... almost the same lifespan as the smartcard, and they are used more in other coutries than smartcards.
  • Why is it that these "technologists" keep using the most fragile and expensive junk? The I-button is cheaper, nearly indestructable and better than any "smartcard" made. I have used them to unlock my house's door, log-in to my computer(linux via fancylogin, and NT via commercial software) and related websites, and more. the reader costs less than $20.00 at full retail price and requires no special drivers and is 100% linux compatable.

    Anyone who designs around a smartcard is obviously paid to use it, or dosen't know how to perform basic research.

    I find it funny that anyone who has any expierience in such systems would find a smartcard a viable solution, In real-world tests, my company found that smartcards were the worst solution, while we still have the prototypes ibuttons in service (2 years now, and over 300,000 uses, left in the rain over a weekend, and one was discovered after being lost for 2 weeks by the lawn maintaince people after the mower flung the ibutton+keyfob+keys 90 feet into a wall.... still works!

    BTW, for less than $40.00 USD anyone here can start hacking and designing with the ibutton.... you can't do that with a smartcard.
  • a) Thomson doesn't sell smartcards themselves. Smartcard vendors are Gemplus, Schlumberger and Oberthur.

    b) A lot of smartcards application are already widespread: SIMs, debit cards, phonecards, electronic wallets, IDs. Smartcards have been in use since the early 90s.

  • Maybe your mom doesn't know how to defeat copy protection, but i'm having a hard time thinking of anyone i know with a computer that can't type something into a search engine @ a crack site. Maybe my friends are smarter than these "people" of which you speak.

    btw, KEYGENSTUDiO is way more 1337-Cr4x0r than astalavista hehe haha
  • by GuNgA-DiN (17556) on Friday June 08, 2001 @05:38AM (#166817)
    Here is "the perfect copy-protection scheme(tm)" that should be adopted by everyone (you) and endorsed by all the major media monopolies(company):

    1) You won't actually "own" a computer, handheld, phone, TV, stereo or other media device -- you just rent it. The company will provide one for you. You will be given permission to rent this device for as long as you would like. Upon request the device must be returned to the company.

    2) You won't get to actually choose which content you would like to watch or listen to... the company will select this content for you (based on a comprehensive demographic marketing profile) and automatically send it to your device. You will be billed accordingly.

    3) You will be contacted daily by advertisers working in close conjuction with the company to fine-tune your profile. You are expected to buy products and services so that we may determine your likes and dislikes. This information will be shared with all of our partners and affiliates.

    4) CD-Burners, Floppy disks, Zip disks and other removable media are hereby banned. You really don't need to create "backups" anyway. Since you are only renting the computer and paying to view the content - there is no need to create copies. If your computer/PDA/phone/device ever becomes unusable due to hardware or software problems, please return it to the company for a replacement.

    "If Linux becomes outlawed... then only outlaws will run Linux."
  • One of the reasons Napster was shut down is coz they give users the opportunity to steal music that costs alot. If you push up the cost you drive more people to steal. Make people pay mroe to watch TV by having to use a smartcard, you have cable and pay-per-view.

    The cheap and the amoral will always steal.
    The GPL crowd trys to bring it up as an argument of "social conscience". This argument fails, due to the fact that the recording artist depends upon the revenue from the albums in order to survive.

    Granted, the /Record Company/ is definatly fixing the costs of CDs, but that does not make theft justified.

    Yes, yes, yes, there is appropriate 'fair use' of using music that you already own.

    Napster was NEVER about listening to music that you already own. Napster was about "Here's mine, how about yours"

    and yes mods, I know this is marginally off-topic.
  • well up untill a while ago the majority of people didnt know how to share massive amounts of digital audio *cough* napster *cough* need i say more?
  • Stuff like Wedgetail (www.wedgetail.com) which supports a subset of a Pulic Key Infrastructure will likely become embedded once the right cost-performance point is reached. Think mobility, fly into an airport, rent/lease a mobile phone, and access your normal documents/email using a smart-card. It would just like a subscription service, possibly even generating random access keys. Sun already supports smart cards for its SunRay applications.

    As for open source applications, think what a combination of Kerberos client, PGP, s/key etc on a smart card. Combine with a filesystem that supports multiple levels of security and you offer a graduation of services. If you want, you can even tie a range of personnae into each smart card, have a generic anon@mous for general use but a me@work for more confidential stuff.

    LL
  • Once they have everything locked up we will just create a counter culture that will produce its own free content.

    There are already lots of bands who give away their music for free. There is a growing free anime culture thanks to Flash. We have free litterature...

    Who need copy protected content?
  • Macromedia Flash

    Free anime sites are just a Google away
  • Not really.. how many people do you know without very much technical computer knowledge that knows that there are cracks for programs to eliminate copy protection.. or that knows about astalavista.box.sk? Not many. So it from being accessible to most people.
  • put yer money wher yer mouth is.
  • Already have the sheep.

    Looks like an attempt to curtail Free Speech, Free Asscoiation, Fair Use and independence.

    If we are technology dependent we can be enslaved by that dependence. It appears to me that this is what is being attempted.

    I wonder what kind of political affiliation this company has in terms of who owns it and who controls it (either directly or by influence)

    Hackers, Entrepeneurs, Free Market advocates and Crackers(!!!) actually are not so much cross purpose in their activities it would seem.
  • This is a simple case of creating a market for your product. In any other day and age it would fall flat on it's face, but today, we do it as a matter of recourse to protect current markets (yes, riaa, et. al.).

    Simply put, create a card that might be able to do something (protect content? track users?), and then REQUIRE everyone to buy it as a matter of law. By simply getting a law passed, a company can create a new billion dollar market. Ingenious, except for the fact that it turns more Americans into criminals.

    When are businesses going to realize that you're not going to make any money from your customers if you keep putting them in jail?

    Ctimes2
  • If we're talking about Belgium, here are some facts:

    Proton, the electronic wallet, is implemented on every bank card you get. There are more bank cards deployed here than our population count. I personally have three bank cards, and therefore three electronic wallets, of which I use only one. Hence the skewed numbers.

    The Belgian Bankers Assocation has statistics on all electronic transactions [abb-bvb.be] (mind you: in Dutch), that clearly show that the electronic wallet is far more popular than credit cards. Proton accounts for 51 mio transactions in 2000, credit cards only 34 mio. While these numbers may not be that big, remember that bancontact debitcards have been in use in Belgium since 1978 and are extremely well-known and way more popular than both the electronic wallet and credit cards.

    Belgium is a little country, but electronic banking is one of the things we've historically been first at.


    Okay... I'll do the stupid things first, then you shy people follow.

  • by morzel (62033) on Friday June 08, 2001 @03:46AM (#166829)
    Electronic wallets may not be too popular in the states - here in Belgium and the Netherlands electronic wallets do quite well (cfr. Proton & Chipknip). And we're not quite alone here in good old Europe ;-)

    Furthermore, magstripe-based bank cards are being replaced with smartcards, because they're less susceptible to failing (i.e. due to magnetic lock in your handbag, ...), and they're way harder to copy than their magstripe counterparts.

    Personally, I find the credit card number scheme quite ludicrous (look ma, no code!).


    Okay... I'll do the stupid things first, then you shy people follow.

  • Electronic wallets may not be too popular in the states - here in Belgium and the Netherlands electronic wallets do quite well

    that is absoulutely not true. for example, in belgium, which is considered to have europe's most successful e-wallet deployment, while everyone has one, only half have ever had value stored on them. and of those, only half have had value re-loaded on them.

    the truth of the matter is: e-wallet is a spectacular failure in europe.

    nobody

  • you're pretty naive. smartcard authentication uses challenge/response protocols, not simple passwords.

    peter
  • facts? you want facts? ok, factman, here's some facts. this is from the economist, may '01:

    "According to 1999 figures collected by the European Central Bank, for every 1,000 card holders, only 20 made a virtual cash transaction on any day in Belgium, two in Finland, and just one in Germany."

    so, like i said earlier, the e-wallet is a spectacular failure in europe, even in belgium.

    nobody

  • i didn't say it doesn't work. i said no one uses it. and i cited a current issue of the economist to back me up.

    so there.

    nobody
  • oh and one more thing.

    you have a peculiar -- shall we call it "european"? -- notion that security and privacy are something you get from the government. run that past an american and you're likely to get, at best, a confused look.

    nobody
  • Cash is anonymous and non-traceable (to some exten). I'm not sure that smart cards offer this.

    some are (mondex), some aren't (visacash).

    nobody

  • it would be more accurate to say "smartcards are hard to copy." paul kocher showed how to infer the contents of a smartcard by watching its power or timing very carefully.

    nobody
  • by nobody/incognito (63469) on Friday June 08, 2001 @01:27AM (#166837)
    see http://www.citi.umich.edu/projects/smartcard/ [umich.edu] for several open source applications on your wish list.

    nobody

  • by nobody/incognito (63469) on Friday June 08, 2001 @01:22AM (#166838)
    thomson is one of a handful of smartcard vendors, all of whom are beyond hope of a clue. they have been searching for a problem solved by smartcards for 20 years or more.

    the electronic wallet has been their obsession but consumers everywhere hate the idea. (i see american express announced just this week that they are giving up on the electronic wallet for their blue card.) the gsm sim, which emerged in the last five years out of nowhere to become the largest smartcard application, completely took them by surprise.

    so don't count on thompson or their cohort for much beyond a damn fine press release. they run this sort of thing up the flagpole regularly just to see who will salute.

    nobody

  • by Nevrar (65761)
    Cash is anonymous and non-traceable (to some exten). I'm not sure that smart cards offer this. Sure, I use a credit card all the time, but some people would freak out unless there was abosolute guarantee of privacy (and security I guess).

    Also, what about the whole thing about the government creating cash... Like sure, everyone might have smart cards with money, but surely that money only represents the real stuff?
  • What is a PC? What is a computer? Will my router have to have one? Give me a break. This is exactly the kind of law that starts with the best of intentions and ends up like that annoying seat belt alarm that goes off when you put your briefcase on the passanger seat.
  • "Nobody buys satelite receivers. They rent them."

    Wrong. There *is* no EULA when you buy a DirectTV receiver. The smart card that came with my receiver (IRD) says property of News Datacom. And yes, you BUY them. I dunno, the place I bought mine from must be stealing from NDC because I have a receipt for the entire contents of my box (including the smartcard), without a EULA.

    And copy them, no, they have an ASIC to prevent copying (and slow down hacking:-)
  • Read the article. This is an artist describing how it works.
    I'm no expert...
    No shit.
  • by BenHmm (90784) <(ben) (at) (benhammersley.com)> on Friday June 08, 2001 @02:44AM (#166843) Homepage
    And people won't buy them. The point about "Thomson has sold 10 million DirecTV satellite receivers" is just stupid. Nobody buys satelite receivers. They rent them.

    worse than that. They don't rent receivers at all: they pay a monthly fee to watch the shows.

    That Thomson think the box is the most important thing is probably inevitable (given that they make the things) - but they're making the classic mistake. The consumer only cares about the content - and if they can get it easier/cheaper someplace else, then they will.

    The technology is just a barrier for most people.

  • There's no basis in the argument that each copy infringement case equals a loss in sale.

    Can you provide proof of this?

    You cannot have change without some sort of destruction.

    wtf?

    Sharing is becoming criminalized in today's society.

    Yeah, and, IMO, rightly so when you're sharing other people's stuff.

    The "artists" themselves have become corrupt by the money and fame, their ego blown out of all proportions. It's time they learn what real art and humility is about, not just an ego-trip on- and off-stage.

    Maybe bands like Metallica. Don't get me wrong - I'm all in favour of getting something for nothing, but what about up-coming bands that don't have massive record sales who are losing money because people are distributing their material free of charge?

    Btw, "coz" isn't an English/American word.

    Are you for real?

    ----------------------------
  • I'm no expert, but I do know that artists get paid royalty checks, the amount of which depends upon sales of their songs. So, when sales are lost due to people freely distributing music, then the artist will inevitably suffer financial loss.

    ----------------------------
  • The article is beside the point.

    The fact remains that, as I said in my previous post, artists get paid royalty checks, the amount of which depends upon sales of their songs. So, when sales are lost due to people freely distributing music, then the artist will inevitably suffer financial loss.

    Are you, being, as you are, more of an expert than me, refuting this fact?

    ----------------------------
  • Actually, the relative 'fragility' of the SmartCard is an advantage over the ibutton. Why?
    1) Because people are more careful handling it. It looks (and in many cases IS) a credit card. I have three in my wallet right now (1 debit, 1 credit+ 1 phone card), which is exactly where I want to keep things I don't want to loose.
    If I was using ibuttons I would not want to give my users the impression that they can be 'treated any way they like' because that's what they will end up doing.

    In addition there are advantages such as:
    2) They are easy to dinstinguish. In real life you are going to end up with multiple 'devices' because companies aren't going to cooperate and standards are broken. With SmartCards you see instantly which is which; iButtons look too similar.
    3) SmartCards are multi-function: Including analog. They can carry mag-stripes and bar-codes for legacy electronic system, and purely human readable information or old-fashion carbon-printing credit-card transactions (as I used only two days ago in a pub where 'machine' was broken.
    4) Better security, because the card can carry a picture of its owner and a signature sample. And so on......just because something is the latest technolog, it doesn't make it better.

  • Can you provide proof of this?

    I thought I explained this. Of course I don't take the extreme view to call it no loss at all. However, to paint the picture as 100% loss like the industry does is ridiculous.

    You cannot have change without some sort of destruction.

    wtf?


    Change in society will inevitably favour some, and disfavour others. Let's hope the trend of favouring the already favoured discontinues.

    Yeah, and, IMO, rightly so when you're sharing other people's stuff.

    Good point. However, the current hopeless situation of music makes it a necessity. When the industry realizes what the market wants, hopefully for them they will learn to adapt instead of trying to force the market. Generally, most people will happily pay a fair price for good service and content. What I won't support is the stranglehold of the market that is the status quoa.

    Maybe bands like Metallica. Don't get me wrong - I'm all in favour of getting something for nothing, but what about up-coming bands that don't have massive record sales who are losing money because people are distributing their material free of charge?

    I have nothing against Metallica. At least they had the guts to come out of the woodwork and say what was on their heart. Most artists are totally blank on this issue, powerless against the RIAA which they are on contract with.

    For upcoming bands services like Napster is probably a good idea. If their music is great, people will share and buy it so that it becomes popular regardless of what plans the RIAA has for next month's charts.

    Are you for real?
    Hmm. I think I am. Hope I haven't offended you, but two posters saying "coz" after one another just made me flip ;-)

    - Steeltoe
  • I worked for A Large Bank in '92. Although the cards supported challenge/response, the guy writing the code for a funds transfer app (several M in a transaction) didn't understand this, and did indeed write it in such a way that sniffing the serial would have allowed spoofing. Equally, he'd stored vital stuff in the wrong part of the card memory, and it was readable too.

    We had smartcards to buy lunch in the canteen (a tech trial, more than a sensible way of operating). I blew one of our lunch cards to emulate the funds transfer card, and left it sitting in the test machine. It worked for a week or two until someone noticed it (glad I didn't leave my name on it !)

    The non-card version of the same app used a plaintext password over a dialup.

    I still don't trust on-line banking. In a decade of contracting, I've worked in too many of their offices to have any faith in their code quality.

  • Smartcards aren't copyable. There's a lot of work in there (especially the JavaCard standards) to make sure they really are secure against copying.

    Of course, over-worked contract coders forced to churn code out without time to read the manual fully have a long track record of getting it wrong !

  • What about Sky digital in the UK? 2 or 3 years and still unbroken.

    Previous analogue satellite encryption? Still unbroken.

    You seem to forget that it's a lot easier to enforce an encryption scheme if it's being done in hardware which has no "User serviceable parts"
  • UMMMMMMM, American Express *GIVES AWAY* smart card readers with their "Blue" card ...

    And more then that, smart card readers are really just transcievers ... Transcievers are damn cheap :)

  • by kreyg (103130) <kreyg@shaw.PARISca minus city> on Friday June 08, 2001 @12:22AM (#166853) Homepage
    I will be very interested to see how consumers react to this sort of thing. In general, the more difficult they make it to use these sorts of "services," the more people will migrate to readily available and free music.

    And until they find a way to restrict my ability to record my own compositions, or they find some way to stop my guitar strings from vibrating without a properly installed license, I'll have all the music I need, and they will have none of my money.

    I imagine it's pretty hard to sustain a cultural phenomenon when friends can't say "hey, listen to this!" because everything is pay-per-play. It will be quite interesting to see how effective the brainwashing has been.
  • by Dr_Cheeks (110261) on Friday June 08, 2001 @01:00AM (#166854) Homepage Journal
    Thomson are just one of several manufacturers - I don't care how many units they've slod - it's just a drop in the ocean. So they sell stuff with content protection and hype it big-time. Other companies jump on the bandwagon with similar but non-compatible schemes cos they're bigger than Thomson and don't want to pay to licence their tech. A standards committee is set up, who might come up with something in 5 years that no-one pays attention to.

    Some people buy it. That's right, some people will give up their rights if a snazzy advert tells them to.

    Other people go - what, so I've got to replace all the TVs, VCRs, DVD players and PCs in my house with ones that conform to this one format (and since there's several competing ones it's difficult to pick which one to go with), and I have to pay extra for the privalige. Hmm, no, I don't think that sounds like a reasonable deal.

    Mean time, there'll be a small manufacturer or two, who can't afford to produce something like this, and go on producing un-restricted platforms. Which everyone starts to buy.

    Joe Public may not care too much about violations of his rights, but he doesn't want to have people try to restrict how he watches TV. You can supress minorities (Linux users & DeCSS), but if you try to stop everyone you're going to have a lot of problems. Will Joe Public vote again for his seanator if his seanator restricts his cable? Nope. So government are going to be reluctant to pass this too. Nice try Thomson.

  • I'm not sure about DSL, but this is the same Thomson [thomson-multimedia.com] that owns RCA, GE, and the U.S. rights to the MP3 patents [mp3licensing.com]. Boycott Thomson's new "Stupid Card" project and support the Ogg [xiph.org] codec projects instead.
  • ...that according to El Reg [theregister.co.uk], has just bought Alcatel's ADSL modem business [theregister.co.uk]

    Be very afraid.
  • by Self Bias Resistor (136938) on Friday June 08, 2001 @02:30AM (#166857)

    I think that Thomson can't and should not succeed for a number of different reasons.

    1. I don't want to see a hardware "Microsoft" running all of our TV's, set-top boxes, DVRs and HDTV sets because it would give Thomson an immeasurable amount of leverage in regards to pricing. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but if the company is hell bent on having their hardwaree in all these devices, and they're trying to get the government to mandate it (a highly unlikely outcome), then they'll gain a huge amount of market control. If their devices are in a large enough proportion of what people buy, then companies are going to need to use Thomson's stuff, and pay their prices. Similar thing with Windows, funnily enough.

    2. No copyright protection schemes, even those embedded in hardware, are crackproof. PSX/PS One "mod" chips used to play pirate copies of PS games and DeCSS (even though it's software it still counts) are telling examples of the industry's failed attempts at hardware-level copyright control. Even if the hardware cracks do not become ubiquitous (their very illegality prevents such a possibility), people will merely figure out ways around them, and we may end up with a TV/video Napster (assuming that such a technology is possible to apply with receiving devices - DVRs maybe).

    3. The uptake of Thomson's products relies on a marked increase in the purchasing of DVRs, HDTV sets and set-top boxes. This is not the case because such devices for the moment are too expensive for Mr Joe Average to consider replacing his old TV/VCR. The uptake of technologies even in techno-crazed countries such as Australia (who has one of the highest rates of mobile/cell phone ownership in the world) is still going to take a while. There needs to be a huge drop in price, which just isn't going to happen because the devices are complicated and expensive to make and the content just isn't there to make it worthwhile. So there's not much point in worrying about the effects of such a development because for the moment it will remain a plan to implement changes to what are currently considered niche, rich-bastard devices.

    4. Even Thomson themselves (via their government affairs representative) admit that these devices won't completely solve the problem. They say that "the SmartRight technology is "not a panacea" for securely distributing digital video, but he scoffs at the notion that consumers won't buy devices dependent on smart cards." Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that quite a lot of consumers would not like to buy a device that is; a) not completely necessary (since the revenue in TV is advertising and not actual content) and b) obsolete in a few years.

    Therefore, the chances of Thomson achieving their goal is quite remote considering the number of obstacles in their way and the considering that the hardware makers have historically been very resistant in implementing these changes from Day One. There are just too many obstacles in the way for them to succeed.

    Self Bias Resistor
    "When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer our friend." - Murphy's Laws Of Combat

  • by ratzmilk (137380) on Friday June 08, 2001 @12:14AM (#166858)
    How many years has this been going on for. It must be 15 or so years since I first started seeing copy protection of some form. I also remember that it didn't take long for a crack to turn up on the local BBS.

    Still, companies invested money in trying to make a better copy protection system. And the cracks continued to turn up shortly after. Look at the money invested in CSS, and how long did that last.

    So bring it on fellas, and we'll hack it, and crack it, and find a better use for it.
  • If I steal somthing from you, you no longer have it.
    If I make a copy of somthing you have, you still have the original. The fallacy that copying is the same as stealing is no different than the superstitious belief that having your picture taken steals your soul.

  • Maybe technicly copying is not stealing, but realize if someone is trying to sell some form of intelectual property, they probably spent time and money specificly because they expected to be paid by everyone who used that product.
    Producing somthing on the hopes that someone will be willing to purchase it is a speculative investment. If consumers feel that purchasing that product will give them some value, they will buy it. If it doesn't, they won't. In the case of intellectual property, we have traditionally be willing to pay for the CONVIENIENCE of having a personal copy, rather than borrowing a copy from the library (or renting one from the video store, etc). This model for IP distribution worked in the pre-digital age, because the cost (in time/money/aggrivation) of making your own copy was as much or more than what it would cost to buy a copy from the publisher. However, we now have the situation where the marginal cost of producing copies is negligable. It's basic economics: supply vs. demand. In the pre-digital world, the supply of IP was limited due to the high capital cost needed to produce and distribute the media, giving the media companies a free hand to charge as much as the market would bear. In the digital world, the cost to produce and distribute IP has dropped to the point where virtually EVERYONE has the resources needed to do it, making the supply virtually infinate. With an infinate supply, costs will approach zero. The media giants can see the writing on the wall: their days are numbered. They got rich because only they had the massive resources needed to produce, duplicate, promote, and distribute entertainment. Because they controlled the factories and the distribution channels, they could have nearly total control over the marketplace. It's a bitter pill to swallow to see that power and control vanishing in a puff of digital smoke.

    Consider, for example, you are hired on by a company. You work for two weeks, and ask for your paycheck. They say, "We changed our mind, we decided not to pay you." Wouldn't you be pretty mad? They didn't steal anything from you, but you did do a lot of work, and the agreement was that you would be paid.
    Specious reasoning. I'm a consultant. If someone says "We'll pay you $X if you come here and write us a program that does $FOO", they are entering into a contract with me. The software I produce is a work for hire. If I work on it for two weeks and they don't pay me, they are in breach of the contract. If, on the other hand, I learn that someone is willing to pay $X for a program that does $FOO, and I spend two weeks hacking on it and then come to them with a finished product and say "Here's the program you wanted. Pay me $FOO", they are under no obligation to buy it BECAUSE THERE WAS NO CONTRACT BETWEEN US. I undertook the work at my own risk, on the speculation that they would be willing to pay. The time and money I've spent producing my program is gone. How I recoup my investment is my problem.

    Now, I could try and recoup my investment by selling copies. This is an attractive option for me, because the cost to me of producing additional copies is negligable. I can sell the same piece of software a million times with no additional outlay. Unfortunately, anyone who buys one copy can make additional copies at zero cost. That sucks for me, so I could try using some kind of copy protection -- that might work, depending on the application, but it also might backfire -- now I have to incur additional expenses per copy (which I could pass along to the customer, at the risk of making my prodram too expensive) and run the risk of alienating my potential customers by making the program harder to use, incompatable, etc. If I take this route, what I'm really doing isn't selling copies of my program -- I'm selling dongles or software keys.

    Copying movies/music/software is like the example above. When the companies that produced these things sold them to people, they expected that: They would be paid for the copy you have You would not give free copies to anyone else
    Wrong. Someone produced the movie on the hopes that a distributer would buy the rights. The distributer bought it hoping that they could sell lots of copies. They used to be able to assume that not many people would give away copies, because the cost to the would-be duplicator (in time + blank tapes) would be high enough to make an "official" copy worth the extra money, especially considering the additional value the offical copy gives (spiffy box art, higher quality duplication, etc). However, with a digital copy, the cost to the duplicator drops to negligable levels -- once it's been digitized, the time and money to make another copy is basically zero. The equasion has changed, which means that thier business model has to change -- using an artificial construct like the law is only a temporary band-aid and does nothing to change the fact that their business model is outdated and has to change.
  • by Lizard_King (149713) on Friday June 08, 2001 @04:44AM (#166861) Journal
    It's funny: remember when SmartCards(tm) were being developed as a security measure for the consumer? Back in the old days, these devices were envisioned to help protect people from unauthorized use of their systems.

    Now, I'll need a SmartCard(tm) for my coffee machine to validate that I alone paid for my coffee beans.
  • by gilroy (155262) on Friday June 08, 2001 @03:09AM (#166862) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    I'm all in favour of getting something for nothing, but what about up-coming bands that don't have massive record sales who are losing money because people are distributing their material free of charge?
    Is there a documented case of this occurring? Because from my understanding of how the recording industry works, up-and-coming bands either (a) don't get contracts or (b) don't make any money off the contracts they do get.

    As some documentation for my statement :), I'll offer "Courtney Love Does the Math [salon.com]", which appeared a year ago in Salon. It's a good read.

  • How in the world can you relate smart cards with privacy ???
    It would be very easy to use smartcards to trace users even if the smartcard isn't designed for this purpose in the first place. (think cookies)
  • ...didn't work in the past (DIVX)

    ...won't work in the future (DiVX :-))
  • this will allow me to pretend to be someone else, and be trusted as such. Think about it, this is hardware whose state is gathered by software and used as authentication information. Devices can be emulated, and I could change my identity every few seconds.
  • Thomson has sold 10 million DirecTV satellite receivers" is just stupid. Nobody buys satelite receivers. They rent them.

    Right and wrong. You do rent sattelite recievers, just not from Thompson. Thompson sold them to the provider, in this case directTV, whom then leased you the dish/reciever. So, in effect, Thompson has sold the receivers, just not to end users...

  • I propose the (DFCA)Digital Freedom Continuence Act. "1. Congress Shall Pass no law restricting your ability to do anything digitally that you can do through handwritten, and or Analog means. 2. Congress shall not allow the granting of a patent for any device that would knowingly impinge upon your ability to do anything digitally that you could do via handwritten or Analog means. 3. It shall be unlawful to distribute technology which would knowingly violate the Free Speech and Fair use intentions of the Consitution of the United states of America. 4. It shall hence forth be understood that once "content" is purchased, it is the purchaser's right to do what ever they choose with that content, and the purchaser shall have the right to do as they have always been able to do via handwritten, or analog means. 5. It shall be understood that the freedom to do with media digitally shall not change from the freedom of use available via analog means, as it is understood and commonly used as of December 31, 2000. The consumer digital media freedom shall remain the same as Anlog media freedom as it was defined by the precedent of the Sony BetaMax time shifting case. "
  • Sony v. Universal City Studios 464 U.S. 417 (1984). There is legal precedent, that proves they can't 'nuff said
  • How come comments like this are always posted by some spineless AC....get some Balls.
  • Don't get too complacent! I see a lot of posts saying something to the effect "copy protection is always easily cracked". These are mostly based on past experience, which the recording industry knows about too. There are techniques that can eliminate most of the current cracking methods, and reduce the effect of the remaining ones. That is where the recording industry would like to take us.

    Let's ignore the "last meter" problem for a moment (monitor to the eye, speaker to the ear). Everything else has to potential to have extremely effective copy protection. The two factors that enable this is hardware security and universal connectivity.

    Picture the use of "trusted components" (enabled by things like Thomson's smartcard technology) in every component of a reproduction system. These are difficult to tamper with, and do most of their processing inside (making tapping ineffective). They will always be vulnerable to some types of attacks, but there are techniques to reduce the value of attacking them. For example, I can get a chip lab to modify a smartcard so that it works on my system, but that is not easily replicable.

    By the way, the keys I get from the breaking the smartcard are virtually useless. The reason is that I have universal connectivity (perhaps a wireless connection) and the trusted device is touch with a secure host (eliminates cloning in the medium to long term). Each trusted system has it's own unique keys and serial numbers, the host knows these values, and send all content uniquely encrypted for the target system.

    Breaking copy protected programs is not like this - think instead what you would have to do if every copy protected program was in the "dongle", and only ran on a second smartcard like computer. Pirating satellite broadcasts is also much simpler - since all content is encrypted the same way and playback does not require host communications (allowing the use of cloning).

    I'll agree that designing a system like this is fairly difficult, but we have the technology to do this today (just not cheaply). That is where the recording companies would like to go, and where groups like the EFF are trying to keep us from.

    By the way, the "last meter" problem is not insoluble against all but the most sophisticated (i.e. money motivated) pirates. The watermarking technology is an attempt to deal with that. There have been some comments to the effect that only obvious watermarks can survive, and that consumers won't accept them. Guess what ... they are already here! Think of the cable channels (like Sci-Fi and Disney) that float a little logo in the corner of the screen. I find it vastly annoying, but I still watch the programs. It would not be too hard to produce a video recorder that that checks for the watermark and makes a (recording company dictated decision) based on what it finds.

  • "Thomson Media" announced today that not only are they going to make smart cards for home appliances, they are going to take the technology one step further, and start distributing "wetware" smart cards.

    The implications of this are enourmous. First of all, think about it... If a smart card reader were required to read/post to slashdot, the trolls could be effectively shut down.

    And, with true smart cards, the computer might actually realize that either A. The person is an idiot and therefore should not be allowed to turn on the computer. B. The person is an idiot, and direct said person to either a modified slashdot (with a direct port from an alt.scientology sporger bot), or an "Open Source" intelligence site so they can download the required IQ before reading Slashdot.

    Add that moderators (Who will probably rate this -1, Flamebait) who actually moderate smartly, and we're talkin some no scroll required, kickass discussions!!

    First Post (joke) Natalie Portman Hot Grits WOAYB, Make your time... etc etc etc...

    krystal_blade, unplugging his DUMB card now.

  • Digital copyright protection is like a fishnet condom.
  • by sulli (195030)
    Well, we would expect a company part owned by the French government to look to regulation first to try to get its stuff adopted. I agree with the others here who say that this has no (0) chance of success.
  • Hey, congress critters, ya know how there are all these suits lately about copying media in ways that may or may not be fair use? Well, why don't you guys just make a law that anytime anyone uses a computer or a device capable of this, they put in this nifty little smart card here, which records the data, and makes sure everything's up to legal snuff. We'll catch criminals before they even commit a crime!"

    "prior restraint? What's that?"

    "well, incidentally, yes, we own all the patents that such legislation would rely on. It's just a funny coincidence, we'll play nice. really"

  • Thomson has sold 10 million DirecTV satellite receivers equipped with smart cards during the past seven years

    Theres a big difference between 'smartcards to view satellitte TV' and 'smartcards to view everything'. I certainly don't much like the idea of having to (presumably) pay of a smartcard in order to do what I do already. So I'd avoid a smartcard device as long as I could. That might mean turning to this 'Napster for video' they're trying to avoid.

    One of the reasons Napster was/is so popular is coz they give users the opportunity to download music that costs alot. If you push up the cost you drive more people to look for ways to 'get it for free' (read: steal). Make people pay mroe to watch TV by having to use a smartcard, you make people even more keen on the idea of 'Napster for video'.
  • You don't need an EULA to rent something. Thats just a legal fiction invented by the software industry. You just need to pay an amount of money for a limited time use of a piece of hardware. But you're right. I overgeneralised.

    DirectTV receivers may well be bought, but the effect is little different from renting. They have no use other than to receive channels from a single service, it doesn't make a lot of difference whether you buy or rent. They become useless when DirectTV decide to stop supporting them. This makes them essentially an extension of a viewing card.

    OTOH, a DVD player will remain useful indefinitely. If the movie companies decided to include a feature that let them pull the plug arbitrarily for films that you had already bought, I don't think anyone would be too keen. Too many shades of divx.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday June 08, 2001 @12:29AM (#166877) Journal
    Why can't we copy the smartcards? Are they plannning to include smartcards with these smartcards to protect the IP stored in them? Are those going to be protected by smartcard technology?

    And people won't buy them. The point about "Thomson has sold 10 million DirecTV satellite receivers" is just stupid. Nobody buys satelite receivers. They rent them.

  • Think how many people do not have a registration on NY Times, even though it is free. I am one of them. I want to go freely anywhere on the web without too much data being gathered on my travels. If slashdot required one of the smart cards, then I would not be a member and never discovered the gems here. I would have been locked out in the early days. I was reading Slashdot for almost a year before I signed up. It is true it may remove some of the trolls, but limiting it to only those with subscriptions (free or otherwise) would make the slashdot crowd a very small uninteresting group. There are other places.

    The other problem with smartcards is I am very mobile. I check into Slashdot from at least 5 diffrent computers on a regular basis. I am not going to carry the smart card from place to place and possibly forget in in some machine along the way. Places requiring smartcards would simply no longer be visited and fall off the internet to me.

  • At some Mobils you now have to enter a PIN number with your Speed Pass, thus making it slower than using a credit card.
  • I worked for Thomson, in one form or another from 1990 to 1998. I have a long, and friendly, history with their North American division. How predictable the Slashdotter's response to this press release is: "I want my MTV and some multinational is coercing the Feds to take it away".

    What is really driving Thomson's efforts in this area? Primarily it is this: Thomson has been systematically blocked from providing hardware into North American cable systems due to a lock on propreitary Conditional Access (CA) by 2 companies: General Instrument (owned by Motorola) and Scientific Atlanta.

    Recently, through the efforts of CableLabs, the CA systems have been reduced to a CA "pod". A pod can be incorporated by a non-GI/SA hardware manufacturer so that their TV/STB/Appliance can play on a cable network. However, the cost of the pod to a 3rd party hardware vendor is nearly the cost of the set-top-box (STB) itself.

    Given that Thomson has 10+ years of experience with smart card based CA systems and have deployed smart-card based systems in the DirecTV market and in the European DVB market. Ask yourself, what is Thomson's real motive? "To steal TV programming from those stinking Americans", that's what. They are Paris based after all, and North American television is the single most potent threat to the bastardisation of the French language.

    No, Thomson is seeking to capitalize on the recent Tivo security breach (among other worries of Hollywood and appliance manufacturers) and leverage their appliance and excryption expertise into a standards process. Thomson offers a history of working within the multimeida standards bodies and providing standards based solutions. After all, the best security model is one where the algorithms are well known and the security is truly based upon algorithm integrity.

    It is unlikely that permanent media (like CD's, DVD's, tape) will effectively be protected by any encryption scheme. As we have seen, the media easily outlasts the lifetime of the robustness of the encryption. (Of course, you won't hear this truth uttered by any marketeer courting Hollywood, be it Thomson or anyone else). But, it is realistic that temporary storage of content can be effectively encrypted and held secret for the lifetime of its use (i.e. the temporary storage and playback of MPEG streams for a few days or so). Traffic and authorization keys can change dynamically, new smart cards can be issued when the algorithm has effectively been attacked.

    So that, IMO, is what they are selling. And their motives are to, over the long run, break the lock that GI/SA have over all cable distribution systems in NA. That and the subjugation of the English speaking world to the French. Neither of which would be all that bad.
  • Thomson Multimedia is .... to convince the government to require the computer industry to adopt such a standard. Along with the copy protection schemes built into portable media and hard drives, this is one of the many ways that they are trying to lock down 'rogue' PC devices.

    First thing we must do is to crack down 'rogue' companies like this one.
  • Are you sure? I think nearly everyone would pay a fair price for music. Isn't it possible that the market wants to escape being gouged by middle men who add zero value to the music, and, as often as not, acctually inhibit distribution? Give me a break. You think these kids really like *NSYNC? I'll take that bet. In ten years they will all be reluctant to admit they listened to this crap, if they admit it at all. Try, just try to find someone in their mid twenties who will cop to liking the new kids on the block, debbie gibbson, or milli vanilli.

    As for the law. Don't be silly. The law is transitory. It is all but impossible to move the market. You can ride the market, or use the market, but to force it..to force a whole culture to move away from the path it wants to choose is futile. People want to share information. This desire has served our species quite well over the millenia. And I can't imagine ill concieved, poorly understood, anachronistic ideas that richer people paid rich people to write down will influnce this. How did could one possibly resist the might of the nobles to force serfs to work their land for so little. The might of kings is absolute, how could one possibly stand against them? Emperors, Presidents, Despots, Laws, Pontifs, they all are granted their power by the people who believe in them. These proclomations of a new age of serfdom and the rise of Corporate Republics are ammusing. These laws, like the DCMA, they are paper. Don't support them. Oppose them. Ignore them. They're only laws so long as the "market" at large doesn't oppose them. For every lock there is a key, and a lock pick. As so it will always be.

  • The point of mine I'm so ineptly trying to blunt is that its about effort. If you can work 15 min to pay for software X, as oppose to crack it in 3 hours, you'll probably buy it. Those people in CompUSA are probably in the same boat, maybe they don't know it. In which case its not even worth it for them to find out. Around here it's crazy. Everyone has a "friend" at Microsoft. I don't think anyone buys their stuff retail in the Seattle area. But should those people find themselves in a situation that they must subvert some sort of convienence reduction, they should be able to stumble their way through it relatively easly, if not swiftly. Its just not worth their time. Quite frankly its not worth my time. But back to CompUSA, are those people packed in there looking for software? CompUSA actually has some pretty decent screwless cases near me, way better than the mom and pop shops. For what its worth, everytime I goto CompUSA I mostly see people walking out with burners, or an arm load of media. (Its also pretty desolate near me. I thought I heard crickets chirping once, but it was just the echo of my corderoys.) But back to the media. How much music would one have that they need 2 100pks of cds? *wink wink*
  • Trust in them. I remember being something like 12 and busting the copy protection on a game for the apple ][ gs (woo) with a $10 dollar copy utility. No idea what I was doing. Just lots of time and patience. And that was before the internet was at everyones finger tips. The very idea of copy protection is patently absurd. Try convienence reduction. I have no doubt that I could, right now, download and burn a pirated version of PSOv2 for the dreamcast. Thanks to some 16 year old kid in Hong Kong. It's not about knowledge. It is about having the will power to spend several hours to crack something that you could pay for by working 15 minutes. Why waste the time? (If the act itself doesn't provide you with entertainment that is).
  • by TheWhiteOtaku (266508) on Friday June 08, 2001 @02:32AM (#166885) Homepage
    People are wrong in assuming copy protection will never work, or if it does, no one will buy it. Some will be rather rudely surprised when the public blindly adopts the new standards. Yeah, copying will still be possible, but all the media giants have to do is make it more trouble than it's worth. This could happen sooner than you think.

    I don't know about you, but I'll be moving to a place where freedom from inherently evil large corporations is absolute: North Korea.

  • "It must be 15 or so years since I first started seeing copy protection of some form."

    i saw it in like 1980 - thats what we cut our teeth on
  • didn't work then - doesn't work now.
  • My analysis would be that we should just discontinue our usage of that which we do not condone, but many people are pawns, and will gravitate to that which pleases them. I don't watch nearly as much TV as when I was younger because a lot of it now-a-days is crap. If they introduce all kinds of expensive, privacy invading 'Smart Cards', into all new entertainment equipment, I'm sure I could find plenty of other entertainment options if need be. And if enough people do the same, like going back to reading books, those 'industry analysts' would get the hint quick enough and advise industry not to screw with people as much. Of course, this is my utopian dream-world, and like I said, people are pawns, and they'll let themselves get screwed anyways because they're 'being kept happy.'
  • Okay, so we don't want little plastic cards telling us what we can and can't do with our lives. I understand that completely. What each person does in his or her home to break copyrights/encryption schemes is pretty much up to them. Granted, there are laws that can be broken, and persons engaging in such activity must be willing to face charges.

    But let's consider a different usage of the cards, one that might prove helpful to the /. crowd: computer security. Smart cards can already be used to let you into your place of business. What a great benefit it could be to security if a smart card was also needed (in addition to username/password) to allow you to log into the computers. Big companies would easily see the advantage--Joe wouldn't be able to walk into his boss's office at night, use a boot disk or even the boss's password (since it's probably on the monitor or in the drawer) and then access files that Joe shouldn't be looking at.

    Another big advantage could be at my home. I would love for just a simple device (card, ring, watch) to immediately recognize me, log me in, and go from there. Sure, it's a slight security risk but it doesn't really matter in my own house where the biggest risk is usually the cats. Or what about my kick a$$ stereo in my car? That would sure suck to have someone steal that, and if they tried I'd be happier knowing it wouldn't work. Putting a smartcard into it when I get in the car would be nice for that, as well as having the benefit of remembering exactly what I like to listen to and how it should be played.

    I guess I'm having a hard time seeing what's so evil about this idea. Sure, it could be used to prevent "unauthorized use" of digital media but there will always be ways around that. The big benefit would be to prevent others from being able to use your hardware--not your software or media. I can't see a problem with that at all.

  • I worked with these things in their infancy, back in '87-'88. The cards may be secure, but the readers ain't. At that time the reader was connected to the serial port (now I would assume a USB port) and it turned out to be a trivial matter to watch the serial traffic on the line, and then re-create it without the smart card or the reader. Oops!

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • There is no such thing as a "cheap smart card reader/writer".
    Sure there is. A quick Google search found:
    K3 Samrtcard reader for USB [devdepot.com] $184.95
    or these smartcard readers [3msystem.com] from $49.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • There is a growing free anime culture thanks to Flash

    Who/what do you mean by "Flash"? What are you talking about here?
  • whats the point, won't it just get cracked straight away?
  • I wish I could pay DIRECTLY to some of the bands I enjoy most - but the option isn't available to me.

    Most bands are easy enough to reach, at least fanclub wise. Send cash, send often. Or, to a lesser extent, buy a tshirt, see a concert (even though these are split up too, they probably get a bigger share than from the cd sales...)

    "The option isn't available to me" is so typical of America these days. Piss.

  • What does it mean, to convince the government to require the computer industry to adopt such a standard?. How should such a standard be forced on the industry? And, where precisely should such a standard be adopted? In DVDs? CD-ROMs? CDRs? In hard disks? In monitors? Video cards? Audio cards? Communication devices? Buses? All of the above?

    It should be all of the above to have some kind of sense, and that's preposterous. IMHO, that is just a move from a company to "jump in the train" of content protection, and have a ride. If the goverment fails for that, splendid. Who is going to provide those completely useless devices but Thomson? And perhaps they will fall for it, with all the hoopla about piracy. It never hurts to try.

    Doesn't look to me like a very serious proposition. Even the contents industry seems rather underwhelmed.

    --

  • Vote with the only thing that counts: your wallet. If consumers refuse to buy castrated devices, then they won't manufacture them. More important that whinging about it is spreading awareness, and a bit of discipline not to buy it no matter how shiny it looks!
  • when you can copy entire objects, how do you prevent someone from duplicating smartcards? oh, of course, ban research on nanotechnology because it encourages the breaking of the law(DMCA anyone?)! we're just seeing the last desperate moves of modern day dinosaurs.
  • "Analysts are applauding the move as a needed step toward providing the security Hollywood desires, but they're skeptical that consumers will embrace devices that require use of smart cards"

    Industry analysts are so often quoted in the press, but just where do they find these people? It seems like a great job if you can get it.. getting paid to give painfully obvious, yet wholly ambiguos answers.
  • Making wallet count is fine idea, but it might not work as well as you think.

    One example could be this: Media industry gets hard-on about this new scheme to castrate the 'stealing bastards'. Then the media industry pushes their screws to the broadcasting industry by telling they have to conform to this kind of copy control scheme by changing the way they broadcast stuff, and phasing out the old ways. That leaves the Joe P. Ublic and his old, now obsolete home entertainment system sitting in dark, wondering if they should buy the new, castrated system after all, to get -any- media coverage.

    I admit, it'd be a bit of work, but media could also 'lean' on the politicos... One example of this kind of tactics is in Finland, where the old analog TV service is changed to digital by end of summer. It wasn't something customers have been demanding, nor do customers see much use, as equipment will be expensive (even set-top boxen) but government went full-steam after digitalization of TV. So we get it, no matter what we (customers) think about it. Of course, in USA it's bit different, but the way your country turns Corporate, it might not be impossible in few years' time. After all, media industry is one damn big moneybin for politicos to line their pockets from. And movie starlets still have glamour with politicos, and media can polish those politician's public image that keep the media's money flow rising. I don't sya you shouldn't vote with your wallet, but keep your eyes open that no-one doesn't come to you with big stick and ask you to 'voluntarily' give your wallet away.

  • Well, Thomson (through STMicro)is the largest manufacturer of smartcards in the world at the moment, and officially they can stake claim to all this. The only issue is how the computer manufacturers are going to take it all. [not well, I would guess]. Heh, conflicting interests.
  • to stack up on those 'rogue' PC devices, they will increase their worth in a world controlled by those greedy corps.
  • Granted, the /Record Company/ is definatly fixing the costs of CDs, but that does not make theft justified.

    Interesting point of view. I personally have no trouble stealing from thieves. Even granting your point when you call it theft, (even though it's not theft), I don't see how that makes me cheap or immoral. If people deal fairly with me, I will deal fairly with them. I don't screw people over for the fun of it. I just like screwing them back when they screw me.

    If they had been playing fair in the first place, Napster would have never happened. The whole chickens coming home to roost thing, y'know?

  • by Powercntrl (458442) on Friday June 08, 2001 @04:22AM (#166907)
    Protected content is going to be sold to the masses the same way cigarettes are sold. Pause for a second and imagine if cigarettes were a new product being announced, picture the /. headline:

    R.J. Reynolds, well known for its food wraps, has announced a recreational drug. In many ways similar to the illegal drug marijuana, this new drug is made from the dried leaves of plants, wrapped in paper, and is meant to be ignited and smoked. Pre-market studies have concluded that this product will be addictive and have negative health impacts. The government has required the package to contain a warning. R.J. Reynolds has said they will promote this new product heavily by celebrity endorsements and a massive advertising campaign. The question is, will the public buy it?

    Okay, back to reality...

    Once 14-year old Jason can't get his favorite songs on "standard" CD anymore and a new smart card protected player comes out, you can bet your fair use he's gonna bug the hell out of his parents for it. Of course, MTV will feature ads making standard CD players look "so last century" and maybe feature discounts on clothing, food and music if you present your smart card at select retailers. The industry will lure in its most valuable customers (teens and young adults) by offering discounts and heavily promoting the products with celebrities. It worked for cigarettes, and it will work again. At least smart cards aren't harmful to your health.

    Don't worry though, as it has been said before, you can still record anything you can hear. For exact digital copies, ripping tools will still be made, albeit illegally. Don't want to smoke tobacco? You can still smoke marijuana, albeit illegally...

    Yes I'd like to live in a world where I can make perfect digital copies of music I have purchased... It would be even better if I could get music I haven't purchased, for free. However, the reality is, we live in a world with macrovision, smartcards, DeCSS lawsuits and a large entertainment industry that couldn't sustain itself if the underground piracy that really didn't hurt its bottom line became mainstream. Just like free ISPs, you can only give away the farm for so long before you buy the farm...

    Oh, and I don't smoke (well, as long as I'm not on fire).

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