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Alcatel-Lucent patent regarding video Digital Rights Management receives Edison patent award


Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that a recent patent by its Bell Labs research organization, regarding a new method for providing broadcast encryption, has received a 2007 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award from the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.

As multimedia broadcasting continues to grow exponentially in popularity and usefulness, it is increasingly important for service and content providers to ensure that these transmissions are secured, and that only the rightful clients are able to receive the broadcast information. This U.S. patent, # 6839436, was recognized for its contribution to the development of advanced digital rights management schema, for use in areas such as digital video and IPTV.

The socio-economic impact of unsecured broadcast transmissions is significant, and could range from loss of revenue to the content providers from pirated broadcasts, to business interruptions at companies that use this media as a common business communications tool, or social disruptions as hackers and pirates find ways to hijack the broadcasts and spam, phish or otherwise prey upon end users with falsified or harmful transmissions.

“Protecting digital content is an enormous issue in today’s day and age,” explained Tom Reddington, director of Security Technology Research at Bell Labs. “Subscriber television providers and content providers are all dependent on broadcast encryption technologies to ensure that only allowed users are able to access their content.”

Today broadcast encryption schemes are typically smartcard-based, wherein key material is held in “tamper-resistant” replaceable devices such as a smartcard. These smartcards, however, may be used to construct pirate smartcards (or pirate decoders) that allow nonpaying customers to access or recover content.

By leveraging analytical techniques from a variety of fields including cryptography, combinatorics and probability theory, this patent, developed by Bell Labs researchers Juan Garay, Jessica Staddon (now with Palo Alto Research Center), and Avishai Wool (now with Tel-Aviv University), results in long-lasting protection of digital content and service continuity through a novel broadcast encryption approach that recognizes and reacts to compromised keys while continuing to broadcast securely to paying subscriber devices.

“In essence, the system is based on allocating a set of cryptographic keys to each user and broadcasting the content encrypted using a set of broadcast keys; as pirated decoders are discovered, the corresponding keys are excluded and the set of valid keys is updated,” explained Juan Garay, an MTS in Bell Labs’ Security Technology Research department in Murray Hill, N.J.. “The allocation of keys to subscribers is done using so-called ‘cover-free set families’ constructed in such a way to ensure that with high probability, coalitions of smartcards cannot cover all the keys contained on another smartcard. This is crucial to prevent the retrieval of the content by pirated decoders, and — importantly — to minimize the number of times that smartcards must be reissued to valid subscribers, which is a costly operation.”


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