Philips Signs On With `5C'

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Philips said it has reached an agreement with the licensing administrator for the "5C" digital television copy protection system, clearing the way for its inclusion in digital audio and video products equipped with IEEE-1394 "i.LINK" connections.

The move, which adds significant momentum to the 5C camp, means that Philips has effectively abandoned its own digital copy protection solution, which was called Open Copy Protection System (OCPS). Philips is now a licensee and supporter of the Digital Transmission Content Protection system (DTCP), which was developed by five companies - Hitachi, Intel, Matsushita, Sony and Toshiba - and commonly called 5C.

Despite reports that some Hollywood studios are still not ready to formally accept the format, DTCP has gained considerable momentum in recent weeks, as consumer electronics manufacturers scramble to resolve a copy protection standard for use in future generations of digital televisions and other devices. As standards debates drag on, some companies are hinting that more than one copy protection format may have to be employed. Through the latest step, Philips has elected to go for a single standard.

Thomson and Zenith, which developed the rival XCA format, have challenged 5C in part because it would permit third parties, such as cable operators, to deactivate offending electronics devices. Also, News Data Systems (NDS) and CanalPlus+ each have submitted competing copy protection schemes.

Previously, Philips and others had charged that licensing terms for 5C were "onerous" and created issues related to the use of secret "keys" that would be embedded in devices. If these keys were stolen or hacked, digital devices could be rendered inoperable.

According to a company statement, Philips reached an agreement with the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator for 5C in order to quickly move forward with products designed around the Home Audio/Video interoperability (HAVi) protocol for in-home electronics networks. These networks will interconnect A/V devices and appliances using i.LINK cabling.

In explaining the decision, the company said: "Philips had been working on a similar copy protection system based on a publicly available DES algorithm (OCPS). However, multiple copy protection systems would lead to unnecessary and more expensive provisions in products to cope with the variations. This would not be beneficial to the end-consumer."

Among more noteworthy 5C announcements of recent weeks, Panasonic said it plans to market D-VHS recorders using 1394 connections and 5C and Sony said it would develop digital cable boxes equipped with 1394 and 5C for Cablevision systems.

Hinting at products in the works, Phil Pollock, Philips Semiconductors interconnectivity general manager, stated, "We plan to release 1394 (semiconductor) products complete with 5C authentication and protocol stacks early in 2000."


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