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Irdeto buys Blu-ray encryption unit from Rovi

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 8:20am
Brian Santo

Irdeto has purchased the BD+ operation from Rovi, with the intent of combining BD+ encryption with its own ActiveCloak for Media content protection technologies to create an improved security environment for Blu-ray disks.

Irdeto is getting the BD+ engineering group, the technology and intellectual property rights. Plus, the acquisition gets the company a direct line with Hollywood Studios.

The value of the deal could be up to $25 million, depending on the operation achieving certain performance benchmarks, according to an 8-K document filed by Rovi. When Rovi bought the technology in 2007, it paid $45 million for it (Rovi was then known as Macrovision, and the technology was referred to as Self Protecting Digital Content, or SPDC).

Irdeto introduced ActiveCloak for Media in February. Initially aimed at protecting streaming content, Irdeto apparently believes that it has strong potential for physical media, as well.

BD+ was supposed to be especially hard to crack, but it turns out that the first version fell in less than a year, and subsequent iterations have routinely been compromised. These days, nearly everyone acknowledges that it's just a matter of time before any content protection system is cracked.

Irdeto's approach to content protection is to first layer on multiple protection techniques, then to use multiple instances of some of the techniques (so that if one instance is cracked, the other instances remain secure), and finally to make some protections updatable (restoring protection or rendering cracked versions unplayable). The twin aims are to make piracy difficult and to reduce the payoff for the effort.

But no one expects content thieves to give up on trying to pirate movies, so Irdeto's goal for Blu-ray is to hold off the inevitable for a longer amount of time. The combination of BD+ and ActiveCloak for Media "will extend the window for studios for Blu-ray before they're pirated," said Jan Steenkamp, Irdeto's vice president of the Americas.

Steenkamp said Irdeto expects to leverage BD+ to bring out a range of products for content protection, though he declined to offer any specifics. He also said that there are companies that are today using the combination of BD+ and ActiveCloak and that Irdeto will be announcing them as it moves forward.

The BD+ standard is based on the SPDC architecture, a renewable security concept that complements Irdeto's dynamic security technology. Irdeto will enhance the effectiveness of BD+ by creating a hybrid BD+/ActiveCloak content security system that will monitor and address threats throughout each Blu-ray disc's economic life. The hybrid BD+/ActiveCloak security mechanisms can be reconfigured and renewed for each movie title to prevent loss of platform integrity over time, minimizing the risk that revenue from high-value movie content will be lost.

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