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Computers-Hacking
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Title: VEIL technology and it's role in US analog hole legislation
Source: CDfreaks
URL Source: http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/13111
Published: Feb 23, 2006
Author: unattributed
Post Date: 2006-02-23 08:38:29 by A K A Stone
Keywords: legislation, technology, analog
Views: 308

heystoopid used our news submit to tell us about one persons investigation attempt of technology named in an upcoming US legislation concerning the analog hole. The Sensenbrenner - Conyers analog hole bill to be specific. This bill would require almost all analog video devices to implement two DRM schemes called Copy Generation Management System Analogue or CGMS-A and Video Encoded Invisible Light or VEIL. CGMS-A is a copy protection mechanism that around here we might more easily recognize as the Broadcast Flag and we have been reading about it for some time already. However, VEIL technology is relatively new and maybe you have not heard of it yet. Admittedly, this is an interesting technology to say the least, as it is a method of invisibly embedding information into a video program that can be retrieved by a VEIL device. You can get a feel for the power and flexibility of this technology by visiting the Veil Interactive website. Intrigued? Well, here is a quote from the Wikipedia that gives us laypersons an idea of the potency of VEIL when combined with the broadcast flag: "CGMS-A is signaled by 2 bits in the vertical blanking interval (VBI) signal of analog television broadcasts according to the following matrix: 0 0 CopyFreely Unlimited copies may be made of the content. 0 1 CopyNoMore* One generation of copies has already been made; no further copying is allowed. 1 0 CopyOnce One generation of copies may be made 1 1 CopyNever No copies may be made of the content. *CopyNoMore was not a part of the original standard. The 0,1 value originally was "Reserved". The signal itself can be easily stripped by normalizing the VBI, eg. using some of the video stabilizers in use to counter the side effects of Macrovision butchering of the VBI. The scheme can be made more robust by adding the Rights Assertion Mark (RAM); when the RAM is present but CGMS-A is not, the copying is denied, turning the scheme into a permission-based one. The RAM can be encoded by using the VEIL technology." Now we can read that this has caused a writer at Freedom to Tinker to want to know more about the mysterious and powerful VEIL. But check out what happened once the query was filed: I emailed the company that sells VEIL and asked for a copy of the specification. I figured I would be able to get it. After all, the bill would make compliance with the VEIL spec mandatory — the spec would in effect be part of the law. Surely, I thought, they’re not proposing passing a secret law. Surely they’re not going to say that the citizenry isn’t allowed to know what’s in the law that Congress is considering. We’re talking about television here, not national security. After some discussion, the company helpfully explained that I could get the spec, if I first signed their license agreement. The agreement requires me (a) to pay them $10,000, and (b) to promise not to talk to anybody about what is in the spec. In other words, I can know the contents of the bill Congress is debating, but only if I pay $10k to a private party, and only if I promise not to tell anybody what is in the bill or engage in public debate about it. In the story over at Freedom to Tinker, the writer is justly concerned because without the benefit of more information, we are left to wonder what effects this technology could have on the cost of televisions, how adaptable will it be for the future and what chances are there of VEIL mistakenly blocking authorized content? How can this bill be debated without all the information on the table for all to see? Are those debating the bill privy to the way VEIL works or are they in the dark like us? In case you are still wondering if this tech could shake things up, check out this one single snippet from the Veil Interactive website: "Enabling Ports The latest generation of PDA's and cell phones are already deployed with accessible ports such as SD/ Memory Stick/ CF and RS 232 ports. VEIL attachments can easily be tailored to modify the existing install base of personal handheld devices to become VEIL friendly, linking the device to television content. This ability will create a whole new revenue model for both content providers and manufacturers." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what the lobbyists are up to with this new legislation! Probably the Wikipedia says it best: "A recent application of VEIL, the Veil Rights Assertion Mark (VRAM or V-RAM) is a copy-restriction signal that can be used to ask devices to apply DRM technology. This has been seen as analogous to the Broadcast Flag. It is also known as "CGMS-A plus Veil" and "broadcast flag on steroids." Maybe it is time someone lifted the VEIL on this - write your Representative and tell them you don't approve of this bill.

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