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CNet suckered by CPRM spin

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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As we suspected, the 4C Entity's damage control airforce has succeeded in scoring a direct hit. A report on the CNet/ZDNet media behemoth by CNet Staff Writer John Borland covers the recent CPRM on ATA furore, pitching it - as IBM and Intel strenuously - as a copy control mechanism for removable media.

According to the report, "the plans are initially likely to affect removable or portable data storage, such as Zip drives...." by including "digital piracy protections". Phew. Don't you feel safer already?

"Fixed hard drives are a possibility, but that's unlikely at first," IBM researcher Lotspiech is quoted as saying. "It's not impossible, but that's certainly not (this technology's) intent."

Alas, the author has ignored the fact that removable drives Zip and Jazz use the packet-based ATAPI cousin of the ATA specification, the standard used by fixed hard disk drives. What's under consideration by the T.13 committee are extensions to the ATA interface itself.

And quite specifically, as examination of the proposed new calls will reveal, the interface contains parameters that ATA need but that ATAPI devices don't. Specifically, the sector start and offset information requested by CPRM on ATA is not required by an ATAPI device. So why is it there?

Although IBM microdrives have been cited by both IBM and Intel as a raison d'etre for the new specification, extending CPRM to these does not require extending the ATA command set itself, merely a small and device-specific subset. So again, why is it there, in the ATA specification?

As we pointed out, the CPRM proposals extend copy control into the standard used by fixed hard disk drives. If as IBM and Intel maintain, this is an unforeseen, or even undesired consequence - "this wouldn't help us," Intel told us yesterday, "why would we cut off our nose to spite our face?" - the fact is indisputable. Until the CPRM on ATA proposals are modified, it remains a fact. We'll have more details later today.

Happy holidays everyone, and thanks for your correspondence. ®

Related Link

FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Related Stories

EFF's Gilmore calls for CPRM hardware boycott
Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive
CPRM on hard drives - IBM takes a spin
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