A few months ago, we outlined a few of the major moments in the history of digital rights management (DRM) in the music industry. This time, we're talking about TV, video, and the events in the ongoing fight over copying. We're still calling it the "DRM graveyard"--but as you'll see, the failures that DRM has seen in the music world aren't quite yet as plentiful when it comes to video.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Communications Act of 1934, creating the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate broadcasting.
Sony introduces the Betamax video recorder, which Sony founder Akio Morita describes as enabling consumers to "time-shift" their television watching.
In what becomes known as "the Betamax case," Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions file a lawsuit against Sony for copyright infringement by the Betamax device, seeking to prevent its sale. The court rules in favor of Sony, stating that private recordings are fair use. Annual sales of VCRs are around 30,000 for the year.
The US Court of Appeals reverses the decision in the Betamax case. Annual sales of VCRs have reached 1.4 million (and shifted largely to VHS format over Betamax).
The Home Recording Rights Coalition forms on October 22 (the day after the decision that makes selling the Betamax VCR illegal) to "preserve consumers’ rights to record and to share in the benefits of technological advances."
Macrovision forms. This company develops anti-recording technology for VHS (Betamax is unaffected by their technique).
The Supreme Court rules in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. that recording TV shows to watch later does not constitute copyright infringement and that the makers of the recording devices--i.e., VCRs and Betamax--cannot be held liable for infringement.
The film The Cotton Club is the first video to be encoded with Macrovision protection.
The motion picture industry pushes Congress to enact legislation to require anti-recording electronics in VCRs as a part of a larger anti-recording effort that is mostly related to DAT recording and devices.
Senator Herbert Kohl (D-WI) and Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) introduce the eventually unsuccessful Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Act, which would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to make it illegal to manufacture devices or do anything to "avoid, bypass, deactivate, or otherwise circumvent the process, treatment, mechanism, or system used by the owner of a copyright to prevent or inhibit recording."
The National Information Infrastructure (NII) Copyright Protection Act of 1995 (H.R. 2441 and S. 1284) is introduced. It would make it illegal to import, make, or sell any device whose primary purpose is circumventing anti-copying measures and effectively reverse the Betamax case decision. It fails in October 1996.
Content Scramble System (CSS) is introduced with a 40-bit key size. It has long been used on most commercial DVDs, although newer DRM techniques are now often employed.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty is signed, creating additional copyright protections not covered previously due to technological advances. It becomes effective in March 2002.
Intel, IBM, Matsushita, and Toshiba join together as 4C and create Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM).
ReplayTV and TiVo unveil their digital video recorder (DVR) products at the Consumer Electronics Show.
President Clinton signs into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), making DRM circumvention and circumvention tools illegal.
Jon Lech Johansen ("DVD Jon") and two anonymous collaborators ("mdx" and "the nomad") reverse engineer CSS and create DeCSS, releasing it on the Linux Video (LiViD) mailing list.
President Clinton signs into law HR 3456, the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999. It increases the minumum statutory damanges for copyright infringements from $500 to $750 and the maximum from $20,000 to $30,000. For willfull infringement, the maximum increased from $100,000 to $150,000.
One of the earliest lawsuits testing the DMCA is filed: Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes. Universal, Paramount, MGM, Tristar, Columbia, Time Warner, Disney, and Twentieth Century Fox sought an injunction against the publishers of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly for distribution of DeCSS.
Studios awarded an injunction in Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes. The decision is affirmed by the US Court of Appeals in 2001.
The DMCA's prohibition on circumventing access control becomes effective. The Library of Congress (with direction from Congress and the Register of Copyrights) in the first of its every-three-years rulemaking sessions, declares two classes of works exempt from this anti-circumvention provision. The two classes are "compilations consisting of lists of websites blocked by filtering software applications" and "literary works, including computer programs and databases, protected by access control mechanisms that fail to permit access because of malfunction, damage, or obsoleteness."
The Broadcast Protection Discussion Group forms to create a proposal for how electronics manufacturers can build in protection for digital boradcasts. The result comes to be known as the "broadcast flag."
Scott Crosby of Carnegie Mellon University with Ian Goldberg, Robert Johnson, Dawn Song, and David Wagner present a paper at the ACM-CCS8 DRM Workshop titled "A Cryptanalysis of the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection System." In it they examine the weaknesses of HDCP and explain how to eavesdrop on data, clone devices, and more.
Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) introduces the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (S. 2048), which requires electronics that receive, record, or even store copyrighted data to honor the copy protections on that content. Penalties for manufacturers or consumers could include up to five years in jail or $500,000 in fines. It fails after significant opposition from the IT industry, led by Intel.
By the DMCA, all VCRs must be manufactured with Automatic Gain Control circuitry, and thus be affected by Macrovision copy controls.
The European Parliament passes the Copyright Directive to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty, similar to the DMCA in the US, with narrow exceptions to anti-circumvention measures.
December 2002-January 2003
Jon Johansen tried and acquitted for charges related to DeCSS. The case is subsequently appealed.
RealNetworks unveils Helix DRM, which supports MPEG-4 and MP3 formats, competing with the Microsoft DRM offerings.
AOL Time Warner reaches a deal with Microsoft allowing the former to use the Windows Media 9 Series technology, including its DRM.
SlySoft releases AnyDVD, a Windows driver that allows DVD decryption and circumvents Macrovision's analog copy prevention.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approaches the transition to digital TV by approving the broadcast flag. This involved the "flag" itself, which is data that notes the protection level of a given piece of content, along with regulations about TV receiver technology and how they would have to treat the content with flags.
Jon Johansen works further on various video formats and programs, including DeDRMS, FairKeys, and support for FairPlay and WMV9 in VLC.
Norway and the DVD CCA both choose not to further pursue the case against Jon Johansen.
In 321 Studios v. MGM Studios, a California federal court concludes that 321 Studios' products DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy violate the DMCA. The former let user copy DVDs to CD-ROMs; the latter enabled DVD-to-DVD copying.
Time Warner invests in Content Guard, a DRM technology created by Xerox that Microsft already invests in.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduces the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (INDUCE Act), which targeted peer-to-peer filesharing, stating, "Whoever intentionally induces any violation identified in subsection (a) of this section shall be liable as an infringer." It is shelved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October after a lack of agreement on the language in the bill.
The FCC approves Intel's High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) as a "digital output protection technology."
ReplayTV and TiVo agree to use Macrovision DRM to limit the time that pay-per-view content is stored.
Intertrust, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, and Sony form the Marlin Developer Community, which sponsors the open standards Marlin DRM platform.
The European Information, Communications, and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Associations (EICTA) declares HDCP a required component for the European "HD ready" label.
Readers of IEEE Spectrum vote the in-progress Advanced Access Content System (AACS) as a technology most likely to fail.
Macrovision introduces RipGuard, a technology that alters the format of DVD content to cause problems with ripping the video.
The AACS standard (created by a consortium that includes many major media and technology companies, such as Disney, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, and Warner Brothers) is released and then adopted by both Blu-Ray and HD DVD for access and copyring restriction.
In American Library Association v. Federal Communications Commission, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rules that the FCC doesn't have the authority to require manufacturers to honor the broadcast flag.
Original deadline for new TV receivers to incorporate the broadcast flag.
Sun creates the Open Media Commons initiative for "open, royalty-free digital rights management and codec standards" to "ensure intellectual property protection."
Akamai launches Akamai Media Delivery Service, which integrates Windows Media Digital Rights Management for license delivery.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduce the Digital Transition Content Security Act of 2005, also known as the "Analog Hole Bill." It's a variation on the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act introduced in 2002 and would impose legal controls on analog-to-digital video convertors "manufacture[d], imported or otherwise traffic[ked]" in the United States.
Google Video launches, offering some videos for sale in a DRM-locked format.
The Marlin Developer Community releases its first set of DRM specifications, which become the basis for the IPTV standard in Japan and sharing on the Playstation Network, among others.
Amazon launches Amazon Unbox (later renamed Amazon Video On Demand, then Amazon Instant Video). It uses Windows Media DRM.
The Free Software Foundation and its DefectiveByDesign.org campaign declare October 3, 2006 an international Day Against DRM. More than 10,000 people join in with 200 events around the world.
The TiVo Series3 HD is released without the content portability available in the TiVo Series2's TiVoToGo1. Because of DRM restrictions, users lost TiVo features by upgrading to HD.
The Library of Congress announces the results of the third of its anticircumvention rulemaking proceedings. The exemptions now include "audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university’s film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors" and "sound recordings, and audiovisual works associated with those sound recordings, distributed in compact disc format and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully purchased works and create or exploit security flaws or vulnerabilities that compromise the security of personal computers, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing, investigating, or correcting such security flaws or vulnerabilities."
A program called tivodecode is released on Sourceforge. It breaks TiVo's DRM and resaves the .tivo files as MPEG-2 files.
"Muslix64" posts how-to video and decyrption codes that enable unrestricted access to AACS-protected HD-DVD content on a forum at Doom9. When AACS revokes the cracked processing keys, new cracked keys are released.
Protected Media Path DRM appears for the first time in Windows Vista. It protects DRM content from copying and prevents you from watching HD content on non-HDCP outputs.
Microsoft announces PlayReady, DRM for portable devices.
SlySoft releases AnyDVD HD, which decrypts AACS-protected discs.
Kaleidescape, which created a DVD jukebox that licensed CSS from DVD CCA, wins in a case brought by the DVD CCA (DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Kaleidescape, Inc.) in which it is accused of breach of contract because the jukebox didn't require the DVD to be in the machine during playback.
AACS has spent months issuing letters demanding sites that publish the HD-DVD key to remove it and links to it. Digg began revoking user account and taking down posts about the key. Its community had an overwhelming response. (Digg stopped deleting users and stories about the keys.) The key then made its way into art, comics, t-shirts, tattoos, and more, in a popular example of the "Streisand effect".
Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group tells HMM magazine that BD+ won't likely be breached for 10 years, and if it is, "the damage would affect one film and one player."
Google announces it will no longer sell or rent content through Google Video. They offer Google Checkout credits equal to what customers spent in the Google Video store, as those customers will no longer be able to view what they purchased.
Fox releases the first discs using BD+ Blu-ray protection. Consumers find that many of their older players couldn't play the discs.
Macrovision announces it will acquire Self-Protecting Digital Content (SPDC) technology from Cryptography Research Inc.
Software company SlySoft says that it has cracked BD+; however, the success is mixed. It continues updating its AnyDVD HD software frequently to continue to allow copying BD+-protected discs.
A class-action lawsuit is filed against Samsung claiming that the company knowingly sold defective Blu-ray players, possibly because of the problems playing discs protected with BD+.
Adobe announces Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server software, i.e., DRM for Flash content.
Doom9 forum members begin a project to create an open source implementation of BD+.
RealNetworks launches RealDVD, which lets you save a copy of any movie you own on DVD.
The Doom9 BD+ project group announces that BD+ discs from before May of that year can be played back using only open source software.
US District Court holds that RealDVD violates the DMCA.
California Court of Appeals overturns the DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Kaleidescape, Inc. decision, finding in favor of the DVD CCA and issuing an injunction against the sale of the jukebox product.
RealNetworks and DVD CCA reach a settlement regarding RealDVD, in which RealNetworks agrees to the injunction against its sale, refunds payments from users, and pays $4.5 million in legal costs to the studios.
Netflix chooses Microsoft's PlayReady DRM for Netflix-ready devices, as it already uses it for instant streaming services to computers.
The Library of Congress announces the results of the fourth of its anticircumvention rulemaking proceedings. The exemptions now include DVD movies legally made and acquired, but protected by the Content Scrambling System, if the circumvention's purpose is clips for criticism or comment, university educational uses, documentary filmmaking, or noncommercial videos.
Engadget posts that HDCP has been cracked. Intel confirms it two days later. The company threatens legal action against anyone manufacturing hardware to circumvent it.
Google acquires Widevine Technologies, a DRM and copy protection company.
Irdeto acquires BD+ Blu-ray protection from Rovi (formerly Macrovision).
The FCC eliminates the broadcast flag regulations.
Louis C.K. posts his latest video DRM-free on his website and makes more than a million dollars in five days.
Microsoft, Google, and Netflix propose to the W3C an anti-copying extension for HTML5.
Terry Hancock launches a successful Kickstarter project called Lib-Ray to "establish a basic standard for HD video that used existing open standards and would give all of the benefits of DVD or Blu-Ray videos (menus, extras, alternate audio tracks, subtitles, and so on) with none of the restrictions."