Spontaneous internal deletion

Eindhoven manufacturer Philips has patented a method for preventing unauthorised copies of digital music and video files. The idea involves separating the storage memory on the player into two parts. One part holds the media content as an encrypted file, the other part stores the key necessary to decrypt the content for playback. If an attempt is made to try to copy the material, the key is automatically erased, effectively making the media unwatchable.

This sounds a little extreme, and probably will not be all that popular with consumers. I mean, it’s a little bit like lending a friend a book, which then suddenly bursts into flames…

DIGITAL SELF-ERASURE OF KEY COPY-PROTECTED STORAGE The invention is related to the field of copy protection of digital content.

Digital storage modules are increasingly being used for storing digital content such as video, music and pictures. In many applications, such as MP3 (MPEG audio layer 3) players and PVRs (Personal Video Recorders), it is essential that the content be downloaded and stored in a storage module of the local device. Content providers are allowing paying subscribers to download content that is protected by copy right. The subscribers have no right to further distribute the content, but illegal copying has become so epidemic that it is discouraging providers from providing content for subscriber download.

Content providers are looking for ways to prevent pirates from illegally distributing the downloaded content. Previously proposals to prevent illegal copying of downloaded content have not been satisfactory. Most proposals have depended on encryption of the downloaded material, but even technically unsophisticated copiers have been able to circumvent such protections. For example, A hard disc drive module used in a PVR can be removed and the encrypted contents duplicated.

In the invention herein, a storage module is provided with multiple portions of memory including a first portion and a second portion. Content is stored in the first portion and information is stored in the second portion that is required in order to access the content stored in the first portion. When unauthorized use of the storage module is detected then the second portion is blank erased so the content can not be used.

Blank erasing data is destroying data by, for example, overwriting the data with blanks, so that the data can not be recovered. Normally when data in a storage module is erased the data itself is not modified, but a flag is marked to indicate that the location of the data is free for writing data into. One of the advantages of only blank erasing the second portion and not the first portion is that normal memory management can be used for the first portion and the special blank erasing procedure only has to be available for the second portion. Another advantage is that blank erasing may take much longer than marking that the memory position is available.

For example, the unauthorized use may be removal of the storage module from the device containing the storage module such as a VCR or MP3 player; the unauthorized use may be breaking open of the device or the module; the unauthorized use may be an attempt to read data from the module while the module is disconnected from the device.

 more information…

Posted: June 26th, 2005
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