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Intel Movies Hardware Your Rights Online

Intel Insider DRM Risks Monopoly Investigations 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-any-other-name dept.
Blacklaw writes "Intel's Sandy Bridge line of processors is impressing the tech community with its power, but a sneaky little feature designed to appease Hollywood has some concerned about Intel's intentions: Intel Insider. If a major video streaming service, such as Lovefilm or the US-based Hulu, were to implement Intel Insider technology on their movie streams — as a way of convincing Hollywood to release films sooner and in high definition without worrying about piracy — it would mean that only those who use Intel's very latest Sandy Bridge CPUs would be able to stream movies. Not only would those using older Intel chips that don't support the technology be cut off from the service, but those on systems featuring CPUs from rival manufacturers such as AMD and low-power specialist VIA would also be excluded." In a blog post about this new feature, Intel denies that it is DRM.
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Intel Insider DRM Risks Monopoly Investigations

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  • by koro666 (947362) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:10PM (#34791832)

    It has to be decrypted to be displayed. There is always a way to tap into that. DRM fails again.

    • It has to be decrypted to be displayed. There is always a way to tap into that.

      At the cost of millions of dollars to put probes directly into the chip. The point of DRM, as I understand it, isn't to make things impossible to decrypt but to A. make it cheaper to write, film, edit, and promote your own original work than to break a DRM system, and B. provide a hook for a circumvention lawsuit. If you're talking about analog reconversion, this works only for noninteractive media such as movies, not for interactive media such as video games.

    • by slug359 (533109)

      Here's my theory as to how it works:

      The CPU generates a session key, encrypts it using the video site's public key (which comes from a certificate signed by Intel which is verified by the CPU) and sends this encrypted session key to the video site.

      The video site then decrypts the encrypted session key using their private key, and then uses the session key to encrypt the video stream.

      The CPU then takes the encrypted video stream, decrypts it with the session key, then produces an HDCP stream[1] which is sent

    • by makomk (752139)

      Except that in this case, the easiest way to decrypt it is probably to buy one of Intel's new expensive Sandy Bridge processors... at which point Intel have made their money and don't care hugely what you do with the decrypted data.

  • not surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by I8TheWorm (645702) *

    Intel doesn't exactly have a history of being open and honest, but then again, what major corporation does?

    This is going to be scenario where I vote with my dollars. Once Intel solved their heat problem and stopped adding latency layers, and thus began beating the pants off of AMD in benchmarks, I switched to Intel processors in my builds. And if Hulu, Amazon, Netflix et. al. join in on the fun, I'll abandon them as well.

    I'm switching back, benchmarks be damned. I'll have plenty of processing power regar

    • Re:not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:30PM (#34792120)

      Once Intel solved their heat problem and stopped adding latency layers, and thus began beating the pants off of AMD in benchmarks,

      At what price point? The $900-per-processor range?

      I've been extremely happy as an AMD customer. And every time I run price-for-performance, AMD comes out king even today. They haven't won the "fuck it I'm a millionaire money is no object" speed crown in a while, but I can get a much faster AMD CPU for the same price in the $100-200 range every time.

      • by gparent (1242548)
        No, about $250. I consider it an investment to get a good processor, but I am a gamer, and I heavily overclock. (i7 930 @ 4.2 right now). It's really a matter of how much money you're willing to spend on that performance. Since I compile applications (on Windows; I program), play video games, and do video encoding, I see big benefits in paying a few bucks more and getting better performance.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Not only that, but AMD has what, half as many different sockets as intel? I built my machine out of $100 components and when the lowest-grade Phenom II X6 hits that price (I predict it will happen within six months, but I've been wrong before) then I will likely upgrade from my Phenom II X3... because I can. (And because I need more cores for video encoding.) I won't have to upgrade anything around my processor.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        I am an AMD fan and user myself, but there are a couple points where Intel matches/slightly exceeded AMD on price/performance at default clocks. The i5 750 and i7 920 are those points.

  • WP sez:

    Digital rights management (DRM) is a term for access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to limit the usage of digital content and devices.

    From TFA:

    ...it would mean that only those who use Intel's very latest Sandy Bridge CPUs would be able to stream movies.

    So Intel Insider could be used to limit the usage of digital content.

    Intel, you are dirty, dirty liars.

  • Seeing "Intel Inside"r makes me realize how far that company has come.

    I miss MMX technology.

    Incidentally, the word "Inside" is one of those words that loses its meaning the longer you look at it.
  • No matter what, at some point, the data has to be made displayable for a TV/monitor/whatever. Until movies start being beamed directly into our brain, there will always be a way to get the unencrypted stream.
    • by cptdondo (59460)

      Well, you could work on an "untrusted" principle. Google for Analog hole; the various *IAA have been trying to plug it for years.

      It is possible to turn off the video output if the monitor is "untrusted", and to encrypt the entire video stream, from source to pixel.

      The problem is that the technology right now is fragile, and would cause a huge uproar. It might also run afoul of some anti-monopoly laws, as only certain "approved" hardware platforms would be able to display the video stream.

      • by fizzup (788545)

        There is always a time when the signal is unencrypted, because our brains are not capable of decoding the encrypted signal if it's displayed on a monitor that way. It would just look like noise.

        Certainly, it can be made really, really hard to get at the unencrypted signal by doing the decryption inside the display device, but that will not prevent access to the unencrypted signal. It will just be a real pain.

        When I first read Schneier's Cryptography, I was absolutely blown away by the idea of a zero knowled

  • Astounding Hypocrisy (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr.newton (648217) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:14PM (#34791894) Homepage

    From that link to Intel's website:

    DRM means 'Digital Rights Management' and is used to control the use of digital media by controlling access, and preventing the ability to copy media such as movies. ...Intel Insider is NOT a DRM technology.

    ...Intel insider, an extra layer of content protection...

    So it's not Digital Rights Management, it's just Content Protection. I feel better.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:35PM (#34792210) Journal

      FTA "Currently this service does not exist because the movie studios are concerned about protecting their content, and making sure that it cannot be stolen or used illegally."

      No, obviously this isn't DRM, it is a technology to protect their rights to their digital content. Completely different. Not related. Nothing to see here, move along. Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey! [wikipedia.org]

    • by dsavi (1540343)
      To enhance that warm, fuzzy feeling you just got:

      But why stop at just movies, could this technology bring a myriad of services to the PC?

      (Also from the Intel blog post)

    • by Amouth (879122)

      so would you consider TLS/SSL DRM? it is a form of multi "Content Protection"

      • That is not how "content protection" is generally understood. TLS does not attempt to prevent the receiver of a message from forwarding the message to your adversary; "content protection" usually refers to systems that do attempt to prevent the receiving party from forwarding the message.
        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          FWIW BBC use TLS/SSL to lock down content to specific devices, using vendor-specific root CAs, for their "iPlayer" online TV. TLS/SSL definitely can be used to build DRM.

          • by makomk (752139)

            FWIW BBC use TLS/SSL to lock down content to specific devices, using vendor-specific root CAs, for their "iPlayer" online TV. TLS/SSL definitely can be used to build DRM.

            It can be used as a component of a DRM system, but it's not designed for it. In particular, TLS/SSL do not contain any functionality to help protect the keys or decrypted data from the person running the application, which is the hardest part of DRM. Intel's new scheme does.

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      But you missed his most important distinction that convincingly proves that Intel Insider is not DRM:

      DRM is a piece of software, not hardware.

      Can't argue with that iron-clad, and not entirely arbitrary, logic.

  • Liars (Score:4, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:17PM (#34791952)
    From TFA:

    I will say that Intel Insider is NOT a DRM technology.

    So Intel created Intel insider, an extra layer of content protection

    Talk about doublethink.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      Modern marketing at work. If a label get a bad vibe, find a new label for the same "product"...

      • I wonder if Intel's marketing team considered the possibility that calling the technology "Intel Insider" might backfire on them, by creating an association between "DRM" and "Intel" (and perhaps their slogan, "Intel Inside").
    • by demonbug (309515)

      From TFA:

      I will say that Intel Insider is NOT a DRM technology.

      So Intel created Intel insider, an extra layer of content protection

      Talk about doublethink.

      I like that his full explanation for why it isn't DRM is basically that "DRM is software."

      Of course, Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and a Google search [google.com] seem to disagree with that, but I guess Intel gets to make up their own definitions for terms to suit their (or Marketing's) needs.

    • Avoid words like protection, rights when talking about DRM. It's about restriction, limitations, disabling. Those words capture what it actually does.
      • I was just quoting the article. Personally, when I talk about these sorts of systems, I use the term "restriction technologies," because that is exactly what the systems are.
  • these guys really need to try and do something like Steam and offer their stuff at reasonable prices if they want to protect their profits. I am surprised shareholders are not giving them hell for the insistence on crap business practices that are proven time and time again to not work.
  • Just buy 'em already (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:20PM (#34791984)

    Ars [arstechnica.com] had a nice writeup of this yesterday, referencing a 2006 post [arstechnica.com] of theirs. The basic gist is/was that DRM simply CANNOT be a good sell for tech companies, and given that Intel and the other consumer electronics companies are so massive when compared to production costs, why don't they just buy one? Intel could piss on its shoes and come out with the budget for a dozen major films, which they could then release DRM free, to the joy of all of their customers. Hollywood is big, but there are only six major production houses and a number of smaller ones... all of which are worth far less than the major tech companies. Want more movies on iTunes, Apple? You've got the cash, so BUY a production house.

    I didn't mean to editorialize, but I think I started to convince myself by the end there.

    • Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:51PM (#34792556)

      Just take a look at Sony - they are even more paranoid about piracy as a result of owning a movie studio.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Want more movies on iTunes, Apple? You've got the cash, so BUY a production house.

      Of course, if they go buy a raft of crap like Netflix did they can inflate their numbers without actually adding anything anyone wants to watch...

  • Not DRM! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JackSpratts (660957)

    It's "Content Protection"

    Which of course is, entirely different.

  • So if I am the only company that offers a service, I risk a monopoly investigation? Intel isn't trying to squash competition, nor are they trying to obtain market exclusivity. They have included a feature that they think will be appealing to people / industry. Nothing's stopping AMD or any other manufacturer from introducing a similar feature (save, perhaps, patents?).

    Now, granted, a stream destined for an Intel Insider system will not work on an AMD equivalent, but there's nothing in there to preclude the

    • Pretty much the only original post in this discussion. Congratulations :)
    • Note that they aren't being charged with anything yet - that's why it's called an investigation. And the reason why it's warranted is because Intel is already in a monopoly position, and so it's far easier for them to affect competition even with relatively small moves.

  • From reading Intel's blog post, it sounds like they're defining DRM to be a software component and pointing out that Insider is a hardware feature, so not DRM. I think they're probably even right. But it sounds like Intel Insider is a hardware feature that's intended for implementing DRM (although maybe it has other uses) and that they're marketing it as being an improvement for DRM. It seems a little bit misleading to say "It's not DRM but it has these benefits ". But that's just my take on the blog po

    • by qw(name) (718245)
      From the article:

      "DRM is a piece of software, not hardware."

      It seems to me that very few things can truly be defined as "hardware" these days. Even our hardware has software or firmware embedded in it.

      I think Intel saw the $$$s and wet themselves with the joy of renewed opportunity and threw the consumer out with the bath water. Or just sold their soul to the devil.

    • by demonbug (309515)

      From reading Intel's blog post, it sounds like they're defining DRM to be a software component and pointing out that Insider is a hardware feature, so not DRM. I think they're probably even right. But it sounds like Intel Insider is a hardware feature that's intended for implementing DRM (although maybe it has other uses) and that they're marketing it as being an improvement for DRM. It seems a little bit misleading to say "It's not DRM but it has these benefits ". But that's just my take on the blog post, maybe more technical information would change the picture.

      As already pointed out, Wikipedia says otherwise. Of course that isn't necessarily a reliable source, but a quick search [google.com] seems to corroborate the gist - DRM does't specifically apply to hardware or software, it is generally considered "a system for protecting copyrights of digital media."

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:24PM (#34792038)

    I thought that since HDCP was cracked [theinquirer.net] it's possible to make high-def copies via HDMI? So it doesn't matter what encryption exists inside the playback device since if it's going to be output to an HDMI device, it can be captured and recorded?

    Or was the HDCP crack mitigated by new keys on new devices? Or is HDMI copying not practical in the real world?

    • by Amouth (879122)

      the HDCP crack was the master key for which you make device and content keys - it makes HDCP usless - this might be it's replacement. Remember the HDCP leak was sourced from Intel.

      either way this is not DRM per say but rather a HD video optimized encryption/decryption device.. (best i can tell) so it wouldn't be anymore DRM than TLS/SSL

      • either way this is not DRM per say but rather a HD video optimized encryption/decryption device.. (best i can tell) so it wouldn't be anymore DRM than TLS/SSL

        Perhaps the best term to describe it would be "hardware assisted DRM." TLS is only intended to prevent your adversary from reading your messages in transit; this goes a bit further, in that it is supposed to prevent the receiving party from forwarding the message to your adversary after decrypting it. If this were just a crypto accelerator, they would not be spending so much time talking about how this will "enable" HD movies on your PC; they would be talking about how it improves your security and what

    • Re:HDCP? (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:52PM (#34792578)

      my understanding is that if you own a bd player and 'risk' putting bd discs into your system (maybe even network) that it can detect hardware and handshake down and disable (!) hardware it does not, uhhh, like.

      if you do not ever mount a bd disc then the block-list part of the bd spec won't ever run. I think your hardware won't ever get on a local blacklist.

      but if you DO mount a new enough bd disc, it could very well detect some rogue hw and try to stop it.

      evil!

      I boycott bd. bd is just not for me. thanks though ;)

  • When Intel refused to ship purchased product unless a vendor refused to carry AMD, that was illegal. When Intel strong-armed vendors in other ways not to carry AMD, that was illegal.

    Offering an exclusive feature with partners is not illegal. That is just an exclusive feature.

    • by mweather (1089505)
      Of course. Being the only processors that can stream most online media totally wouldn't make them a monopoly.
      • That is assuming that every major media partner demands consumers have this processor, which hasn't happened yet.

        Do you think iTunes is going to require this? What about Amazon video on demand?

        And even then, having a large market share due to an exclusive feature still isn't illegal. Anti-competetive practices are.

        For instance, EA has an exclusive partnership with the NFL for video games. That isn't illegal. You can still make a football game like Backbreaker, but Madden commands massive market share due to

      • by godefroi (52421)

        It's not illegal to be a monopoly, it's illegal to abuse your monopoly position. Releasing new "features" (whether we like them or not) is not abuse. Forcing a movie studio to use these new features would be abuse.

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:31PM (#34792142) Homepage Journal

    It has been said before, but it needs to be repeated by high-profile writers until Hollywood listens.

    DRM will always be cracked. You are not stopping pirates. You are punishing paying customers by treating them like criminals. Hollywood is convinced (like the music industry was) that no one would willingly pay for digital content if they have the capability to pirate it. The reality is that iTunes is the #1 seller of music, with Amazon #2. People do actually like paying for legal, digital content.

    People will pirate. DRM isn't the solution. Finding ways to reward paying customers and treating them well is the solution.

    • by Amouth (879122)

      but.. but.. customer service - no one like customer service.. what would we invest there..

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      All true, but I think the major point of your assertion, and the one that they always miss, is that EVERYONE doesn't have to break their DRM.

      I think there is some assumption that if it takes an elaborate setup to break the DRM then it's OK, as not many people will bother, but the reality is once the DRM is broken, someone will release the content on P2P networks WITHOUT DRM. At that point, an easily copyable version is out in the wild. Game over.

      That's what I don't get. They throw all this copyprotection

      • I meant to imply that. All it takes is one person to break DRM and then it is worthless because it is stripped for everyone else.

        And for many of the pirates, simply the challenge of DRM, or the antagonizing by the executives is enough to motivate them.

        No one hacked the PS3 when Linux was a legal and valid option on the console. When Sony decided to piss in the face of their consumers, it motivated GeoHot to truly break the console and release the hack in the wild.

    • by godefroi (52421)

      The reality is that iTunes is the #1 seller of music, with Amazon #2. People do actually like paying for legal, digital content.

      The fact that iTunes is the #1 seller of music says absolutely nothing about how much music is pirated, or how much would be if DRM were more effecive, or how much would be if DRM didn't exist.

  • Fair enough, using the strict definition of DRM, Intel Insider isn't DRM, but it is still copy protection.

    • by demonbug (309515)

      Fair enough, using the strict definition of DRM, Intel Insider isn't DRM, but it is still copy protection.

      What strict definition of DRM? The one Intel made up to suit their purposes? None of the sources I've seen in a few quick searches say anything about DRM being software. In most cases it is referred to as a system, where it is not explicitly stated that it can be software, hardware, or a combination of the two. So where does this strict definition come from that you refer to?

  • They care about creating their own streaming standard so that people have to buy media boxes with intel chips or intel licences.

    As long as it's only used with content that would be DRM'ed anyway it's not something that strikes me as incredibly controversial.
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:00PM (#34792708) Journal
    The tighter you squeeze, the more sand slips through your fingers, Hollywood; the more restrictive you make things, the more you encourage people to find ways to circumvent your systems of control, and the less profitable you become. Why can't these people understand that their business model doesn't work anymore?
  • Pfft (Score:2, Funny)

    by carrier lost (222597)

    Not only would those using older Intel chips that don't support the technology be cut off from the service, but those on systems featuring CPUs from rival manufacturers such as AMD and low-power specialist VIA would also be excluded.

    Hey, welcome to Linux. We stream our movies the old-fashioned way - from hard drives of friends.

  • I've always wanted my machine to not support DRM - if restricions management will require a processor feature that I don't have, then there's no way that me or my kids will put DRM-infected content on the computer. As for the 'access to the content' - anybody who wants my money will find a way to offer it without DRM, and pirates will have access anyway.

  • Thanks for the explanation but it seems like a distinction without a difference. If Insider is only available on Intel hardware then it prevents anyone from running another processor from accessing that content. Further, this is not a limitation based on clock cycles or rendering--it is based on encryption. Yes, it is hardware encryption but to the end user it still looks a lot like DRM.

    Lastly, it is difficult to believe Intel won't face antitrust concerns if this technology is not opened up to all chip makers. This kind of thing leverages a dominant market position rather than actually innovating. As a user, and investor, I expect better of Intel.

    I really don't like the notion of upselling encryption as a "feature" particularly when it is used for the benefit of people external to the user. In fact I really really hate it. i can see why Intel is doing this because it makes for a nice marketing pitch. "Now on Hulu, stream HD directly to your laptop or to your HD TV! (Sandy Bridge processor and Intel WiDi required)." I mean, i get it but bleh...

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:31PM (#34793240) Homepage

    everyone's forgetting about intel's consumer division Set-Top-Box CPU, which is specifically banned / restricted (by intel themselves) from being sold as a Laptop / Desktop CPU. it's a SoC with an embedded 1ghz Intel Atom Core, combined with PowerVR SGX 3D and 1080p60 HD Video playback, which means that to do HDTV the Intel CPU Core is idling at about 3%. it does NOT use Intel's own GMA Graphics, nor Intel's own MPEG decoder, because they're too crap.

    why am i mentioning this CPU? because it only has HDMI 1.4 - absolutely no LVDS, VGA or RGB/TTL out. why is that? it's to *stop* people from bypassing the DRM!

    the holywood companies etc. are so paranoid, and so "in control" that even companies like Intel bow to them and create this kind of insane restricted cartel hardware.

    i remain deeply unimpressed and i am hoping that the reduced price and the "freedom" afforded by the Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean markets (irony to call the Chinese markets "free" but that's by comparison to what hollywood+intel are up to), results in at least *some* mass-market CPUs being at least open enough to work with.

    but, one thing that stops that is the fact that many of these Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean companies have to utilise Linux (because it's not Intel). that means that they are typically ignorant of the GPL; that means that they treat the Free Software Community's hard work and efforts with blatant disregard.

    So, for those people reading this who actually want to make a difference: start doing GPL investigations of products and their firmware, get onto the gpl-violations mailing list, help to pressurise these Asian companies to comply, by educating them on their obligations. each person who does that takes up that company's time, to the point where eventually, like Ingenic did and VIA have (finally) and amazingly even Telechips recently, they will get the message and release GPL source code.

  • Back when MMX extensions first came out Intel set up some deals for content that were only available on processors with the new MMX extensions, but it was insignificant enough that nobody cared. Now they're doing it again, but with bigger content providers so it'll be noticed more.

  • 0 comments on this piece of PR bullshit? What a surprise, the PR is leading to censorship!

    All I can say is fuck off Intel, I will not be buying your products again. I do not pay for anything if it contains any form of anti-feature, no matter how appealing the features might be. When your hardware contains features that hand control of my property to a third party, that feature suddenly becomes an anti-feature. That third party will use their control ability to interfere with what I might want to do with my

  • Whatever it is that Intel put into the cpu can always be done in software. Having the process native inside the CPU will make it faster, and means that a special DLL wouldn't be required. However, it will still be possible to do the same thing in software. So whatever it is, it will be cracked. QED.

  • dump the obsession with the PS3 and focus on keeping desk/lap/mobile CPUs in the control of their owners, instead of the Content Lords.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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