Despite the high public profile of piracy as a threat to intellectual property owners, surprisingly little useful research has been done to understand the range of technical solutions that are feasible. This paper presents results from a study sponsored by Cryptography Research, Inc. to determine how cryptographic systems can provide the most effective long-term deterrent to the piracy of digital video and other content distributed on optical media.
Although numerous products and technologies have been advertised as solutions to the problem of piracy, most commercial security systems fail catastrophically once an implementation is compromised. These designs can work in limited deployments, but any technology deployed as part of a major standard will inevitably attract extremely determined attacks – and some implementations will get broken. The long lifespan of media formats, diversity of player implementations, complexity of security/usage models, and constantly-changing risk scenarios provide attackers with numerous avenues of attack and the time and resources to explore them. As a result, effective content protection systems must be able to survive compromises and adapt to new threats.