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Linux lead slams ‘pay per read’ disk drive plan

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Alan Cox, number two on the Linux kernel team, has batted back copyright proposals mooted for the next revision of the industry-standard ATA hardware spec.

As revealed by The Register, plans are being drawn up for copyright protection to be placed into the hard drives used by PCs, digital media players such as TiVo and Replay, and MP3 players such as Creative Labs' Nomad device.

The proposed extensions to the ATA specification brand hard disks with a unique identifier, and make moving and copying signed files dependent on the media provider.

"It seems to be very similar to the DVD stuff, including ideas for play once only blocks and the like. Pay per read hard disk," wrote Cox in a posting to the Linux Kernel Archive "Its probably very hard to defeat."

He also agreed that implementations of the new ATA specification could break existing software, where that volume contained "secure" files:-

"It also in its current form means you can throw disk defragmenting tools out. Dead, gone. Welcome to the United Police State Of America."

The move, backed by major entertainment industry, it has been suggested, smoothes the way for the acceptance of cryptographically-signed secure audio discs and other media content in the future. ®

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