For some patients, the pain must be unbearable for treatment to be taken seriously. So it seems that, with over 60,000 screens, security key management must be so painful to manage that purported solutions are now growing out of places never before imagined.
The one new solution in the mix that has the vote of “most likely to succeed” by this author is the Theatre Key Retrieval (TKR) protocol, developed by Mike Radford at Fox. TKR is a method where the server is empowered to pull the KDMs for its content, without the need for theatre identifiers. It is elegant and simple, and relies on readily available internet management tools to configure it for special applications.
At the ISDCF Plugfest, Doremi demonstrated an implementation of TKR, which was shown to work. The implementation requires a manual step, which should be eliminated for production use. Mike Radford demonstrated a utility he wrote that discovers the servers on the network (regardless of make), pulls the TKR information from the servers, pulls the KDMs from their hosts, and then matches and delivers the correct KDMs back to the servers. He’s ready to begin testing in an exhibitor’s facility. If I were an exhibitor, I’d be standing and while raising my hand. It’s a unique opportunity to shape the future of security key automation.
For some, the opportunity to create a security key management empire is too tempting to ignore. Unfortunately, such appears to be the case with MovieLabs. MovieLabs was created to vet and nurture anti-piracy technologies. It’s one success is Pirate Eye, and even though the technology is wildly successful, it has a challenging business model. The bigger challenge, however, for MovieLabs, is to justify its funding. So it’s no surprise that security key management for digital cinema now has the attention of Steve Weinstein, MovieLab’s CEO.
The MovieLabs business plan was lifted from in part from DCDC: a not-for-profit entity, ownership by everyone in the business who wants to participate, it will operate worldwide, but it won’t be a threat to the content industries of other countries. So many promises, you’d think they were running for the Republican nomination.
Cynicism aside, the idea of operating a centralized key management facility should have died years ago. How does the middleman get paid? Who does the exhibitor call when the keys don’t work? How does the middleman service such calls? Can they resolve them within minutes, like Technicolor and Deluxe? Technicolor and Deluxe can create KDMs. MovieLabs won’t have that authority. Simply on the basis of liability, the path MovieLabs is taking is a very bad idea. It is the recognition of the need for a commercially robust and redundant network that led to the development of the FLM and TKR for security key management. The path MovieLabs is taking ignores the services that are sprouting up around it.
Having said that, MovieLabs has a very real opportunity to provide value in security key management to the six major studios. But not the one it seeks. Central authorities provide value when they serve the roll of a trusted entity. The trusted party in KDM management is the one that creates the KDM, which, more often than not, is Deluxe and Technicolor. But the security chain for digital cinema has always been a bit short as there isn’t a security certificate authority, or CA. Likewise, there is no entity that knows which security certificates are still valid. The reason for this is that such management involves black lists, and exhibitors fought early on to avoid the black listing of equipment. But the industry is more mature today, and such concerns should be viewed differently. Trusted device list management is a role where MovieLabs could provide considerable value, without impact to the content industries of other countries.