AACS Finalizes Managed Copy for Blu-ray Discs

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The Advanced Access Content System License Authority—AACSLA—has posted finalized specifications for the digital rights management system to be used on Blu-ray discs…and the final spec allows for so-called “managed copies,” whereby consumers will be able to make a pre-determined number of copies of content on Blu-ray media for personal use—although the number of copies is determined by the studios, and the copy is still protected with AACS or Microsoft DRM.

Releasing final specifications for Blu-ray might seem a little counter-intuitive: after all, Blu-ray technology has been baked and on the market for over three years. However, all Blu-ray manufacturers have been operating ofter provisional, interim licensing agreement from AACS. If they want to continue producing Blu-ray releases, studios and content providers will need to agree to the new licenses by December 4, 2009. Hardware manufacturers aren’t required to support managed copy, although many will obviously choose to support the feature in order to meet consumer expectations.

Managed copy will require new Blu-ray hardware: existing Blu-ray players (like the PlayStation 3) will not be able to leverage the feature. For managed copy to work, Blu-ray hardware will have to authorize the copy via an online confirmation with an AACSLA server: that’s right, unless a Blu-ray device has Internet access, users won’t be able to exercise their right to make a personal copy of Blu-ray content. There is also a provision that could enable a studio to charge consumers to make copies.

ONce the technology has rolled out, consumers will be able to make copies to either Blu-ray or standard DVD media (protected with AACS DRM) or to Windows Media DRM-compatible files for use on a computer or portable media place. Noticeably left out of the equation is Apple hardware like iPhones and iPods. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously described Blu-ray licensing as “a bag of hurt,” AACSLA has noted that Apple could choose at any time to become a signatory.