Having rescued itself from its 3-D licensing fiasco, TI is now giving second thought to its “Gore board” for enhanced security in Series 1 projectors. The Gore board, so named for the manufacturer of the tamper-proof material that surrounds the circuit board, was meant to solve a non-DCI-compliant issue. Originally, two studios were disappointed that TI hadn’t implemented DCI-compliant link encryption in its 2K projectors. Link encryption prevents the movie images from potential electronic theft by means of tapping the wires from server to projector. DCI calls for a variety of security measures, including FIPS compliance, at the projector input.
The push for DCI compliance at the projector prompted TI to undertake its Series 2 design, scheduled to be out end of this year. The Gore board fix for Series 1 was negotiated with two studios to improve security of the current model. The negotiation led to wrapping the input board with a tamper-proof material manufactured by Gore.
The Gore fix doesn’t make the Series 1 projector DCI-compliant, however. Nor does it add any security. While the front end of the input board carries the link decryption circuitry, a connector on the back end of the circuit board carries the fully clear, unencrypted image to the next circuit board. The private key that secures the link decryptor is buried in silicon, and is impossible to reveal to human eyes. If one wants to hack a projector to steal a movie, the place to go is the back of the input board, Gore board or not. In fact, short of putting a pad-lock on the projector and making the entire projector casing tamper-proof, there isn’t much one can do about this level of theft. One good reason we don’t see padlocks is that a simple touch of the finger to the projector casing would erase the private key and render the projector unusable. Not very useful for showing movies.
Of course, in the real world, it’s much easier to buy a camcorder and steal the light coming out of the projector. There is nothing in the DCI specs that can stop that.
To add to the Gore board woes, a large percentage fail while in the storage box prior to installation. In addition, failures occur in the projectors. These two failure modes, however, are not related. The Gore board requires a battery, which can discharge when stored for 6 months or longer. I’m told it’s difficult to know if the battery is discharged prior to installation. Reportedly, some 15-30% of failures out-of-the-box are due to battery failure.
The other failure mode occurs after installation, and not enough information has been gathered to understand it. Consequently, it’s not possible to point to a cure at this time, and the cost to undertake it. TI is now working to gather this information.
Even if fixed, the Gore board doesn’t make exhibitors feel more secure. They’re worried that the battery will eventually fail. They’re also worried that the heat trapped by the Gore material will lead to early failure, or that some event will cause the Gore material to generate a false detection, and destroy the private key inside the board, rendering the projector useless. Given the battery problem, it’s not possible to simply have a spare sitting on the shelf in preparation for such an occurrence. Once the board fails, it can only be fixed by the Gore board supplier. TI refuses to let out the tools to fix the board in the field, as such a step would compromise the security of the board. Digital cinema has surely found its Catch 22.