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Thursday, July 04, 2013
Sony Proposes Online Authentication And Digital Watermarks For Distribution Of 4K Content

Speaking at an event in Los Angeles last week, Sony Pictures's CTO outlined its highlighted the meaning of 4k technologies for content protection and said that it was an opportunity to start fresh with a new design, compared to the outdated AACS content protection technology for Blu-ray discs.

Spencer Stephens presented "Discussing the Impact of Emerging Technologies for Content Protection" at the Anti-Piracy & Content Protection Summit in Los Angeles last week. He outlined Sony Pictures' progress towards the The transition to 4K technology, which allows broadcasters to transmit a signal that is approximately four times the resolution of 1080p. The studio worked with productions shooting on the Sony F55 digital cameras, and plans to supply Sony Electronics both restored 4K movies for the products they are launching to bring content to consumers who purchase the new 4k TVs. These products include the FMP-X1 4K Ultra HD Media Player, which will retail on July 15 for $699. Sony's media player will have 10 pre-loaded feature films, including classics like Taxi Driver, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Salt. Later this summer, Sony will be also launching its Video Unlimited 4K Ultra HD service, which will offer TV shows and movies. Prices for 4K movies will start from $30, while 24-hour rentals of the same titles will cost at least $8 each.

Studios have not predetermined a standard for 4k content protection, so Stephens proposed a number of measures that could safe-guard the 4K content. Bill Rosenblatt, who spoke at the summit for his company GiantSteps Media, notes that Stephens talked about "title-by-title diversity," so that a technique used to hack one movie title doesn't necessarily apply to another. He added that security on any device is a combination of technical measures and compliance, proposing proposed 4K players to authenticate themselves online before playback, which would enable hacked players to be denied but would also make it impossible to play 4K content without an Internet connection.

Microsoft has been forced to drop the requirement for the upcoming Xbox One console to be connected to the Internet on a daily basis, but Sony, which said it needed no such function for the PS4, follows a similar path for 4K.

Sony's new 4K video player is only compatible with Sony's 4K TV range and will require activation via

GlobalPlatform has also launched a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compliance program which Stephens sees as a good step forward in ensuring that a TEE can really be trusted. The trusted execution environments combine the security of hardware with the renewability of software.

Stephens also welcomed the release of the HDCP 2.2 on HDMI 1.4 specification, which he descrobed as essential for the protection of the HDMI link to a 4k TV.

Finally, he talked about session-based watermarking, so that each 4K file is marked with the identity of the device or user that downloaded it. This means that Sony will be possible to trace content back to its original owner.

The transition to 4K technology is imminent but when exactly it will happen is uncertain. There many technical challenges facing broadcasters, which includes transmission and compression issues. For instance compression and the HDMI 1.4 interface to the TV cannot support 4K at the frame rates necessary for sports.

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