Computer Systems Laboratory Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, April 4, 2001
NEC Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B03

Content Protection for Recordable Media

Jeffrey B. Lotspiech
IBM Almaden Research Center
About the talk:
Content Protection for Recordable Media, or CPRM, is a technology developed by IBM, Intel, Matsushita, and Toshiba to provide copy protection on portable media. The technology allows a recorder to record encrypted content, and a player to play it back, without having any keys in common. The media acts as a passive oracle to allow the different boxes to come to the same cryptographic key. In contrast, previous copy protection technologies like the one used for DVD video, depended on shared keys between the mastering studio and the players, with predictable results. As soon as a 16-year-old in Norway found one shared key, the system was effectively broken: there was no way to exclude the broken key from the system without hurting too many innocent consumers. In contrast, CPRM can survive thousands of independent attacks, and exclude millions of circumvention devices, without any chance of innocent consumers being affected.

Recently, articles have appeared in the press that CPRM will be standardized on all PC hard drives. This has fueled Orwellian mages of a Big Brother chip on your PC that will decide whether your files are worthy of being copied. This is complete nonsense. CPRM would never be standardized, nor have we ever proposed such a thing. CPRM strength is portability and interchangeability and it is mismatch for fixed hard drive. It is completely passive, requires no hardware, and can only be exploited by newly-designed applications. It cannot possibly affect existing files or applications. How these myths came about, and persist, was an object lesson for a media-naive researcher.

About the speaker:

Jeff Lotspiech is the manager of the Content Protection Technology Group at the IBM Almaden Research Center. He has a BS and MS in Computer Science from MIT, 1972. He has been working on content protection technologies, both the Internet and media, for the last six years.

Contact information:

Jeffrey B. Lotspiech
IBM Almaden Research Center DPEM/B3
650 Harry Road
San Jose, CA 95120