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DTCP-IP: "Visible to Developers, Invisible to Consumers" Says Intel's Steve Bard
DTCP-IP: "Visible to Developers, Invisible to Consumers" Says Intel's Steve Bard

Intel COO Paul Otellini spoke briefly during his Intel Developer Forum (IDF) keynote recently about DTCP-IP and its role in "delivering content" within emerging digital home environment. He then exhorted other Intel executives to "come up with a catchier name" for the technology.

The truth is, DTCP-IP may not need a catchier name, because it is a technology that "will be invisible to consumers," according to Steve R. Bard, Staff Engineer with Intel's Technology Enabling Platform Architecture Marketing group in Hillsboro, Oregon.

"I seriously doubt there needs to be a 'catchy' name for DTCP-IP, owing to the fact that consumers will not be aware of it nor are they required to select it over some other copy protection mechanism," Bard notes.

DTCP-IP, which stands for Digital Transmission Content Protection (over) Internet Protocol, dates back several years. Its purpose has always been to remove fears from movie studios about the potential for massive illegal copying of digital content. This is not a new story, of course. The saga of CSS encryption on DVDs and its cracking by DeCSS is a five-year old story.

What's critical, and current, about DTCP-IP is that it addresses the transfer of digital content within someone's home. "DTCP-IP is not a streaming mechanism," Bard says. "It simply encrypts content prior to placing it on the home network. The rendering device receives the stream - using some streaming protocol such as HTTP or RTP - decrypts the content from DTCP-IP (while honoring the copy protection information) and displays the content."

If DTCP-IP is simply protecting and moving content around the home, then how (and why) does it use IP, one might ask? "DTCP-IP is not used to protect premium content as it is transported from some media server out on the Worldwide Web into the home," Bard explains. "IP is a standardized messaging protocol useable on any networking transport for the purpose of interchanging information otherwise not possible using another networking protocol. it is layered on top of existing transport communication mechanisms."

The DTCP-IP specification is quite complex, as it needs to interoperate with a number of digital rights management schemes and transport methods. So although an evolving spec, it is not one that will be debated by the IEEE. "The IEEE does not come into play. This industry specification is owned and managed by something called the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator, which is found at www.dtcp.com ," Bard says. "The 'mappings' for various transports are executed by the DTCP Technical Committee. DTCP-IP is the latest mapping, and all mappings are derived from the initial specification: DTCP-1394."

To understand DTCP-IP best is to remember that its role is to keep content in the home once it's arrived there. "DTCP-IP is used to protect premium content as it traverses from PCs in the home to rendering devices in the home, all across the local home area network," Bard says. "The mappings for DTCP-IP have been designed to limit the distribution of the content to just the home IP network, that is, the content cannot flow out of the home onto the Internet."

But one good encryption deserves its own decrypter, right? "Each device (using DTCP-IP) has its own unique certificate and unique key," Bard says. "So if you've broken one, well, you've broken one." Incorporating unique certificates and keys "takes CSS out of the picture," he notes, meaning that even if a pirated data stream were to enter someone's home, it won't be leaving that home for further unauthorized distribution.

"DTCP-IP is part of Intel's digital home vision," Bard says. It has two content participants now, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. He elaborates, noting that "In addition, the FCC stated in its recent publication on protecting premium content through the broadcast system that the DVD CCA subgroup that set forth CSS as the protection mechanism for packaged content approved, without objection from any studio, that DTCP-IP is an approved output for CSS protected content."

Which means? "I believe this is a significant statement of trust in DTCP-IP as a secure mechanism useable for premium Hollywood content," Bard says.

And what about that catchier name? "As I mentioned, DTCP-IP is invisible to the consumer. They will not have to configure it or set it up," Bard says. "And it is very familiar to those in the content business (MPAA, for example). It is well known in the CE industry (through the 1394 digital connection) and the Cable/Satellite set-top-box industry due to recent FCC mandates on its use."

"In summary, members of the techno-community involved in the delivery of DTCP-IP are familiar with it as an industry specification," Bard says.

About Roger Strukhoff
Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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