Another possible power grab by the MPAA


Staff member
Looks like the movie studios want to tell electronics manufacturers how to do their jobs. If they have their way, apparently all manufacturers of analog-to-digital converter (ADC) chips (such as Microchip, Motorola, National, Scenix, Hitachi, Texas Instruments, IDT, Zilog, and so on and so forth) would have to include an MPAA-sanctioned "watermark detector" in order to stop filthy dirty content pirates from defeating their brilliant digital copy protection schemes:

While the entertainment industry is marching toward an all-digital future environment where robust digital content protection measures will enable a viable market, analog connections to conventional televisions, VCRs and the like will remain for a long time to come. This presents a problem in that digital devices can capture and digitize unprotected analog signals (including formerly protected digital signals that are stripped of their protection as they pass through analog outputs) with complete disregard for current analog copy protection mechanisms, thus enabling a major source of unauthorized duplication and/or redistribution. This attribute will keep analog devices and interconnects around well past their natural extinction.

The primary means to address this issue, dubbed the "analog hole", is via embedded watermarks (which have additional applications as will be discussed below). In order to help plug the hole, watermark detectors would be required in all devices that perform analog to digital conversions. In such devices (e.g., PC video capture cards), the role of the watermark detector would be to detect the watermark and ensure that the device responds appropriately.

They give PC video capture cards as an example, but the only way that this could be effectively accomplished is by integrating such a "watermark detector" into all ADC chips - leave any available for "benign" applications like electronic test equipment, medical examination tools, or laboratory measurement equipment, and someone will find them and put them to use in an evil pirate box. Of course, if you happen to be a filthy stinking content pirate, you could just go down to the local Radio Shack and buy the components needed to build your very own ADC. Unless the MPAA demands that watermark detectors be put into resistors and transistors, of course...
Fucking ridiculous.

How much control do they hope to gain?

Sadly they have the influence (read money) to get this sort of shit even considered.
China looks better every day. Maybe this is the kind of thing Karl Marx was talking about when he was trashing all the evil capitalists.
You mean the #1 motherboard chipset maker and processor maker. There's a lot of other companies churning out way more "potato chips" than them.
Well, companies like Intel, AMD, and VIA have a lot of influence on PC industry standards, so it's possible that they could hinder adoption of this standard if they wanted to. I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to get companies like Conexant, Matrox, Pinnacle Systems, and Zoran (major video capture/codec manufacturers) on board, though...
It dosn't matter what they decided to do. Companies in Asia, China, and Hong Kong don't give a damn about the MPAA. All it means for them is that they can produce Unlicenced/Unprotected chips and have total control over the market. Everyone will just start using cheaper Chinese chips, and the MPAA is screwed. Not to mention after they get screwed, Intel and other US I.C. manufactures which have to follow these rules will also start getting angry at the MPAA because they are being crippled due to their useless rules and regulations which do nothing.
Everyone will just start using cheaper Chinese chips, and the MPAA is screwed.

Except that if this were to be implemented (I suspect it won't be - it's one thing to sacrifice individual rights to corporations, it's entirely another to allow a small group of corporations to tell a large group of corporations how to make their products, never mind that the "watermark detector" circuit would have to be far too complex for it to be economically feasible), it would almost certainly be illegal to import such chips precisely because they don't include the "watermark detector". Asian consumer electronics with properly functioning ADCs would probably be classified as "circumvention devices" under Title 17 Chapter 12. The scary thing isn't so much the possibility of this particular proposal being implemented (which I believe to be small), but rather the fact that these people are arrogant enough to believe that such a thing is even worth consideration - the mindset is essentially "Everyone and everything should be compelled by law to serve our interests.'
Well, people have tried to stop the import of Chinese products before (Just look at Chinese game copy devices). The trick companys started to use is to send your "finished" product crippled in a way which cannot make it bypass any protection. The catch then is, to make simple information avaliable (Presumably on your webpage located in China or something) which tells you what wire to cut, what button to push, or something simple which will Mod the unit into bypassing the protection. Another way they like to do it, is to send the unit in parts. Seperatly, they are all legal devices, but assembled, they brake copyprotection, or something else.
Those methods might work at the import level, but it's still illegal to sell "circumvention devices". Technically, selling them as components should also be illegal under Chapter 12, which is one of the reasons that the law is considered to be overbroad by many people.
yup, then according to the DMCA, any chip manufactured in the USA will be illegal along with marker pens. Shame 99% of chips are manufactured in singapore and malaysia then isnt it?
Just be a bit more patient. Eventually the supreme court will finally step in and declare the DMCA unconstitutional.