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Sony's 4K DRM Plans: Online Authentication, Digital Watermarks And More

Posted by: , 20:57 AEST, Thu July 4, 2013
Tags: 4K, Copyright, DRM, Sony

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Sony plans to use the rollout of 4K video to tighten copy protection, including the use of personally identifying digital watermarking and online authentication
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Image/Photo Credit: Sony

Sony's upcoming 4K video player is only a week away from being available on store shelves, but at the Anti-Piracy and Content Protection Summit in Los Angeles last week, Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens revealed the company's future plans to eliminate 4K based piracy.

Stephens presented a multi-layered approach to 4K content protection that will make the DRM on Blu-rays and video games seem decidedly outdated, and benign.

First up would be the use of HDCP 2.2, a beefed up version of the previously cracked HDCP copy protection found in today's Blu-ray players. Version 2.2 of the content protection standard will allow publishers to set a maximum distance allowed between the player and the display, thus preventing long distance sharing of protected videos.

The next major layer of protection is embedded into the content itself, with a digital watermarking system that stores the purchaser's information, to allow pirated files to be tracked back to their original source.

The last major gateway could be the most controversial. So soon after Sony had won an anti-DRM victory over bitter rivals Microsoft, Sony's plans for 4K copy protection would see the same sort of DRM added back to their future 4K players. Online authentication would require 4K players to connect to online based authentication servers every time a video is played. 

Stephens also outlined some other minor changes that would make videos more secure, including the use of unique protection for each title that prevents one crack from opening up all content, and the use of trusted execution environments for playback.

No timeline has been established as to when these new copy protection measures will be implemented, if they're implemented at all, but the introduction of a new video format always presents itself as a new opportunity to experiment with new copy protection methods.

Back to the present, Sony will launch the FMP-X1 4K Ultra HD Media Player on July 15 for $699. The 4K video player is only compatible with Sony's 4K TV range and requires activation via


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