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Musings on Kaleidescape, CEA, Media Servers

Although its Blu-ray solution is not ideal, at least Kaleidescape has a roadmap. Where is CEA in all of this?

My, my, a lot of negative comments on the “big” news that Kaleidescape is adding Blu-ray support to its movie servers … with the caveat that the disc must be in the tray in order to play it.

OK, so it’s not ideal. You think Kaleidescape is happy about it?

The really big news in the announcement is that Kaleidescape does in fact have a road map.

What is the most worrisome thing about a Kaleidescape system? That the courts will rule its DVD servers illegal and the company will fold, leaving a bunch of rich people stranded. Or that Kaleidescape would never touch Blu-ray because it already has the wrath of the studios.

They had to show the world that they do have a solution. It’ll just take some time – possibly more than a year. Will that be too late? Possibly, but for now it will appease nervous dealers and consumers.

As for the argument that the need for multiple disc changers and lots of expensive, proprietary hard drives would be a deal killer … Kaleidescape is for rich people. It’s expensive already. Why should another $50,000 matter?

If there’s anything damning about the Kaleidescape news – as many dealers have suggested – it’s that there is really no discussion about streaming content from the Internet or over the home network. That could be a problem. Open up the system to iTunes and generic storage … now you’re talkin’.

Can't CEA Help?

And most disappointing of all: Where is the Consumer Electronics Association in all of this?

It’s sad that Kaleidescape is fighting this battle single-handedly (except for the brief period where Real Networks fought to keep RealDVD alive).

Media servers could be a growth category if everyone weren’t so afraid of the bullies at the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) and the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA).

I can answer my own question: CEA is not taking sides because the folks who make the DRM rules are some of CEA’s biggest customers and allies. Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic and other giant friends-of-CEA are founders of the AACSLA and probably the super-secret DVD CCA. These organizations write the rules for DVDs and Blu-rays and the little guys all beat them to the movie-server punch.

Back in 2005, a CEA spokesperson told me, “We have members on both sides so we're not commenting officially." (See "DVD CCA is an Innovation Stifling Cartel.")

I don’t really get that. CEA has many members that are for free trade and many that are against, yet CEA is aggressive in its free-market charge.

Several good DRM suggestions have been proffered by CE pros in the original Kaleidescape/Blu-ray article. (I like Richard Stoerger’s suggestion of a server that rips, and then shreds the disc. Genius!)

Couldn’t CEA work with the studios and DRM gods to come up with a viable solution?

As fanatical as I am about streaming media, physical DVD and Blu-ray discs have a few more good years of life in them. There’s got to be a better way for DRM.

DVD Ripping: The Whole Picture
Kaleidescape vs. DVD CCA: Judge Rules Against Movie Servers
Tentative ruling in landmark DVD-copying case says Kaleidescape knew its movie servers might be in violation of DVD CCA licensing agreement that prohibits copying of DVDs.
DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front
This compilation of articles on the legality of DVD ripping, and related fair-use cases, will be updated continuously.
Understanding the Kaleidescape, RealDVD Cases
What have the courts really decided on DVD copying, and what are the implications for the future? We debunk the myths about the the two lawsuits and clarify the current legal state of DVD ripping.
Is DVD 'Ripping' the Same as 'Archiving?'
Is the term "ripping" generally understood as the "illegal" form of copying a disk? Likewise, is "archiving" known as the bit-for-bit "legal" way of doing it?
Can You Be Sued for Helping Clients Rip DVDs?
EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann explains some of the legal issues involved in selling and installing products that enable users to copy DVDs.
Is Your DVD Server Legal? Manufacturers Say Yes!
Developers of movie-ripping products insist their products are legal. Here's how the manufacturers justify their solutions.
Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (2005)
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does. Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract.
Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?
As studios work to quash legitimate products like RealDVD, offshore providers of DVD ripping software -- like AnyDVD developer SlySoft -- are reaping the rewards.
Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (2005)
The DVD Copyright Control Association (DVD CCA) is a bunch of bullies. The organization manages to coerce all manufacturers of DVD players to sign away their rights to innovation.

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Article Topics

News · Blogs · Product News · Video · Digital Media · Media Servers · Movie Server · Kaleidescape · Consumer Electronics Association · Blu-ray · Media Server · Dvd Cca · Drm · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

32 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by moviestar  on  05/12  at  12:07 PM

So why not buying an imerge, mozaex ...  or whatever and leave the decision to the customer to agree to fair use… what exaclty is you´re problem ?!

Isn’t it fair to buy 620 DVD´s and 240 Bluray’s for xxx thousand $ and then stream it ?! however ? Do we need to pay even more to hollywood ? Maybe a breath license while watching the movie…

I agree the CEA should be way more active but i guess Kal just overvalued their muscles - it´s up to the customer to be Legal not to machines ...

Or do we start to sue Sony for making Bluray drives and blank DVD’s to copy Sony Tristar Movies ?!

Posted by Dave  on  05/12  at  12:23 PM

People fundamentally misunderstand the position of these manufacturers. DMCA Section 1201(a)(2) restricts them from selling products that allow consumers to break the encryption on video discs. The RealDVD court stated this emphatically.

Their only choice is to attempt to license the standards. K-scape tried, as did Real. The K-scape decision is still pending on remand. The RealDVD court, however, found that the disc-in-drive provision of the CSS license was violated with RealDVD.

So, it’s illegal to circumvent and they can’t license the encryption standards and be compliant. They really have no choice.

As far as it being up to the customer to “be legal,” that’s not entirely true, either. Section 1201(a)(1) bans individual circumvention of protection schemes. The only way around that is to get an exemption from the Librarian of Congress.

Additionally, the first court to ever evaluate the DMCA (Universal v. Reimerdes) found that the DMCA over-ruled the fair-use defined by the Sony v. Universal Supreme Court Case that made personal video recorders legal. Basically, you can’t circumvent the encryption, even if your use of the copyrighted material would be fair under the Copyright Act.

Unless courts start evaluating the DMCA differently, there is really nothing these companies can do but try to get something done with licensing agencies. You can call it stupid, dumb, whatever - they are hamstrung by the DVD CCA’s of the world and the DMCA.

Posted by joel degray  on  05/12  at  12:46 PM

in a bit for bit copy, the encryption is not broken. Also, let’s not confuse terms such as “Broken” where we simply mean “unlocked” The DMCA talks about circumventing technologies who’s purpose is to lock items “content” in their “container”, but they don’t discuss content you have the right to copy. The witholding of a copy key from Hollywood with the purchase of the disk, in itself is a dirty trick. The Keys shouldn’t liscenced to the players, but to the owner.

Posted by Dave  on  05/12  at  01:00 PM

A bit for bit copy does not break the encryption, but it does violate the terms of the CSS license (same with Blu-Ray). The result is K-scape and RealDVD. In fact, the Real court found that a bit for bit copy with CSS in place violated the terms of the license because you are making CSS ineffectual. And there’s no way you’re getting around the disk-in-drive provision, either.

That’s what I’m saying: you either violate the DMCA by circumvention or you break the license. The manufacturers are hamstrung.

And the DMCA does address copy protections in Section 1201(b). You can’t trafficking in circumventing tools for copy protections, but it doesn’t say anything about individual circumvention of such protections (like it does in 1201(a)(1)). You are confusing Section 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b). They are different. DVD and Blu-Ray encryption systems are firmly 1201(a)(2) systems - and courts have ruled that there is no exemption (See, Reimerdes and RealDVD).

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  05/12  at  01:47 PM

Others (many) will disagree with me but as far as im concerned Kscape has come up with a creative way to solve a problem. First let me be clear that i think the single disc player is a joke if you are asking clients to keep the disc in the drive tray. A mega storage changer of some sort needs to happen so that end users can store 400/800/1200 whatever discs at a time. Their pricing will need to drop to accommodate the additional storage and the mega changers so that the total system cost doesn’t change. If this happens they they are still in business. If they add access to VOD services and online content they will own the market again. And all this has to happen by first quarter next year or they will vanish.

Posted by joel degray  on  05/12  at  02:21 PM

@ Dave, So we are in agreement- a bit for bit copy doesn’t break encryption
(let’s try to use th term “unlock”).

And snce the CSS is naturally released when the disk is mounted @ playback (physical or virtul), and in tact again when @ rest, (VCD or physical), then they have released the content, encryption free, via a drive they have liscenced and issued a key to.

No DMCA issue there?

This is fun- JD

Posted by Dave  on  05/12  at  03:00 PM

Your hypothetical ignores the fact that a licensee must comply with the terms of the CSS license. That includes disc-in-drive. If you don’t comply with the license, then you are circumventing under 1201. Furthermore, the content is not “released,” it is still in a closed system that is controlled by the copyright holder via the CSS license.

If you’re trying to argue that once you have a licensed player that you can dispense of the content as you please, then you could be right. But at least one court has disagreed with you: “The copies of DVD content made by RealDVD, using Vegas or Facet, do not include most of the protection provided by CSS, namely, DVD drive-locking, secure storage of keys on a DVD, CSS authentication or CSS bus encryption.” Real did not disturb CSS - it was left intact. The Real court found that RealDVD violated the DMCA by making a bit-for-bit copy.

And you are fundamentally misrepresenting the “content” here. The consumer never “owns” the content - the copyright owner maintains the right to dispose of the copyrighted work. Even if the “content” is in the clear with no technological protection, you still must have permission from the copyright holder or statutorily created access (ie, fair use). As interpreted by the courts, the DMCA removes all statutory and court created access to a copyrighted work that qualifies under Section 1201.

Posted by moviestar  on  05/12  at  06:55 PM


I think you have a fundamentally misunderstanding of the facts. Any Laptop or PC can copy a DVD or Bluray !
That’s what i mean.

It´s the oposite - none of the media server we talk about is AIMING to harm a Moviecompany and that’s why a sue to those companies isn’t right!

That´s why some courts have already denied the general sue of this.
Only wrong behave and use can be sued otherwise you have to sue all PC manufacturers, microsoft and the bluray drive manufacturer for supplying goods which allow the customers to break encryption.
It´s still about fair use and using YOUR bought movie for privat use or for renting and copying it for illegal purpose !

Nothing more nothing less…
Why else would the movie industrie already start shipping the movies with a digital copy or allowing streaming services…

Posted by Dave  on  05/12  at  07:08 PM

Perhaps you should read the statute and case law before you tell me that I misunderstand this. I’d suggest you start with Universal v. Reimerdes, where the court said that there was no such thing as fair use circumvention. And I think you’d better read Sony v. Universal before you start preaching fair use to me. It’s not entirely clear whether Sony would support the type of space shifting you want. In fact, the RealNetworks v. DVD CCA court found that it did not.

I’m not saying I like the law or the way it’s interpreted, but that’s the way the law stands right now. Unless courts decide to interpret the DMCA differently with reference to DVDs (like they did in Chamberlain v. Skylink), then manufacturers have no other choice.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/12  at  07:42 PM

@moviestar—I assume your comments are directed at the studios?

I believe we all agree with you that we wish these “fair” uses of content were legal. Unfortunately, as it stands now, they are not.

Posted by joel degray  on  05/13  at  08:24 AM

@ Dave, please alow me to go over this scenario again, as I am not sure you are quite getting my angle, and I appreciate your input / perspective.

In a physical Disk In Drawer scenario, the CSS keys are released and monitorable via the physical data dump in RAM.

Has this broken CSS or the DMCA, recognising that there was no third party software, intervention or other, only the liscenced mechanism acting as it was designed to.


Posted by fcosantanap  on  05/13  at  09:30 AM


I’m starting to believe that even if you don’t like the law you support it, and the people around it.
We are not talking about breaking the law; we are trying to agree on a way that we can all be happy and not have a 1500 DVD/Blue ray collection when we can have them all on a server. Adding a mega changer (And I’m assuming you are an installer or at least working in this industry) is a cost many of our customers can pay, but want to avoid, especially because they can use the space in the rack for …. Hummm … more drives for movies, music, 3D movie server, or whatever other devices they want to add to their system. 
We just want the DMCA and Kal (not to mention CEA and CEDIA) to get together and come up with a system that WORKS, and we are all happy about it. 
If not they are just leaving us with streaming media, and buying digital content, that might be impossible for some of my customers in rural areas where internet is way too slow for that.

Posted by Dave  on  05/13  at  09:45 AM

@ joel degray
To escape liability under the DMCA, you’d have to comply with the terms of the CSS license. The key under the anti-circumvention provision is “authority.” Section 1201(a)(3)(A)  qualifies that you circumvent when you descramble “without the authority of the copyright owner.” So long as you are compliant with the CSS license, you have the requisite authority. As noted above, the Real court found Real liable under Section 1201 when they failed to comply with the terms of the license.

Merely intercepting the CSS keys is not really what the DMCA aims to curb. Unless you “descramble a scrambled work, ... decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise ... avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure,” there’s no liability. It matters what you do with the keys and whether you have authority to do it.

But I’m not sure that’s exactly what you are getting at - so clarify if I’m still missing it.

Posted by Dave  on  05/13  at  11:13 AM

Understanding the law is not the same as condoning it. I actually think that DMCA is poorly written and has become a way for copyright holders to effectively restrict what might be an otherwise legitimate activity.

And we actually are talking about breaking the law. Section 1201 of the DMCA makes it illegal to create collection systems without the authority of the copyright holders; whether that is accomplished by the end user or a manufacturer. And the copyright holders aren’t very willing to allow that to happen. And courts aren’t willing to allow it to happen, either. There is no fair use exception for circumvention. The exceptions that are available are very limited and don’t apply to this situation.

I can’t change that - nor can manufacturers. You can only work within the system. You can wish it differently, but the only way that happens is (1) congress amends Section 1201 or (2) courts interpret 1201 differently. I’m not saying the law (or the interpretation, thereof) won’t change, but things haven’t been going very well thus far (see, RealNetworks).

My original point was that the manufacturers really are in a bind on this: you either do what the DVD CCA (aka, the studios) wants - or - you violate the DMCA. So, you are correct: the only way this gets solved is if the licensing entities play nice with the manufacturers.

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  05/13  at  12:43 PM

It looks like kscape does have a mega changer in the works that will serve as the storage facility for discs and a bulk import device. This means that kscape has an updated user interface & Blu-ray ripping/playback. As far as i am concerned they are back in the game. The only thing missing now is VOD and access to online content.

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