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[Nettime-bold] CPRM for HDs may be kicked into touch

CPRM for HDs may be kicked into touch -
By: Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 10/01/2001 at 18:27 GMT

Andre Hedrick, the Linux developer involved in brokering a
compromise in the CPRM copy control furore, has given a brief but
memorable email interview to Slashdot readers. 

Although it covers ground familiar to readers of our coverage,
particularly in our FAQ, some important news does emerge too. 

As you may recall, IBM and Intel have tried to dampen public outrage
- calls to boycott participating hardware vendors, to withdraw
co-operation from IBM's Linux projects - by suggesting that the
CPRM in ATA plan only deals with removable drives. 

This was the line taken by Chipzilla Veep Pat Gelsinger in a Boxing
Day email to Dave Farber's mailing list, and then dutifully echoed by
the spin doctors. However, as we pointed out, tCPRM on ATA was
specification overkill for removable media, and contained calls that
only hard drives required. 

So we couldn't quite see the need to add a powerful copy control
framework to a specification used primarily for fixed-storage...
unless the plan involved fixed storage somewhere down the line. 

This time last week the 4C Entity signalled its willingness to accept a
compromise offered by Hedrick, who sits on the T.13 committee that
oversees the ATA specification. This would allow users to
permanently block CPRM operations on their drives. In return,
Hedrick would approve the modified proposal, and CPRM would
become part of the ATA specification. 

Last week too, Intel's Chuck Molloy promised - 13 days after we
broke the story - that the 4C Entity wouldn't license CPRM for use on
fixed devices. Intel's promised a lot of things over the years - that it
wouldn't enter the motherboard business, for example, or that it
 ould never manufacture PCs (Registers passim) - but this was
significant nonetheless, and drew a guarded welcome. 

However Hedrick now suggests that we may have something firmer
to go on than an Intel promise. Although last week's counter-proposal
has been bounced, says Hedrick, a modified version of his scheme
explicitly differentiates between fixed and removable ATA drives. Or
as he puts it: 

"Thus it appears that I have agreed to drop the no longer needed
enable/disable CPRM feature set, because ATA-Devices
supporting Word0 Bit6 set to ONE are not going to be allowed to
have CPRM support! Thus we may have finally won the removal of
WOOHOO WOOHOO WOOHOO!!!!!!!" he writes. 

OK Andre, are you pleased about that or what? Tell us what you
really think... 

Hedrick says this would entail CPRM going into ATA subsets used
for removable media such as IBM microdrives, memory sticks ...
which IBM and Intel have insisted all along is what they wanted to
achieve. So it looks like it could be a compromise that may be
acceptable to the powerful entertainment lobby. 

But hold on, we're not out of the woods quite yet. With CPRM
implemented on removable drives, users would still need access to
their keys when moving, copying or deleting their CPRM-enabled
data: dependent on the permissions set by the media "owner". So
much as today, you'd better keep that DVD or music CD disc in a
safe place. And that goes for backups containing CPRM'd files, too. 

That isn't quite the nightmare that would ensue if CPRM was
implemented on fixed drives - that would break existing backup,
RAID and optimisation software. Hedrick - in an early contender for
quote of the year - characterises thus: "Ever had a morning where
you were not kissed and told 'I love you,' when the night before you
SCREWED so wildly that you could not remember?" 

Hedrick calls for continuing vigilance - particularly on the SCSI T.10
committee, where CPRM is also being proposed, he claims - and
sensibly suggests boycotting Hollywood. 

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