Technical Expert Needed Please

Could someone who understands hardware marketing speak better than I please translate the following into plain English?

The Inq has a preview of the Xonar D2X, an only somewhat vaporous as yet unreleased Asus sound card (they have a photo). The Xonar D2X is designed to compete with Creative's excellent X-Fi (which really is great) but it also sports an extra feature which the Inq. obfuscates as follows:

What makes this sound card a bit special is the presence of a secondary music processor, which allows legal “ripping” of music you've bought onto regular MP3, WMAs and so on. The trick is called Analogue Loopback Transformation, or in technical terms, the redirection of outputs from a physical output to secondary audio processor which will then record the file in the format you want.

Here's what I want to know: Does this mean that if one has a 'trusted' computer and/or a Vista-like 'trusted' OS that is designed to prevent the user from copying data without permission from Mom, that this sound card will rip it anyway? Is this a DMCA killer? Or does the word “legal” in the quote above mean “DRM inside”?

This entry was posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Technical Expert Needed Please

  1. sounds like it makes a copy from a playback, like making personal copies of videocassettes. so instead of merely breaking dmca by breaking encryption, this plays the music and the music is received by an encoder then re-encrypted in the format of your choice, with any degradation that occurs between the playback and re-encoding. this is sort of like what some of the apple software does with screen and speaker capture at the os level.

  2. Derek says:

    I agree with Jeremy, although I would contend that in this scenario, the generational degradation is going to be extremely minimal if it never leaves the card itself before it’s reinjected into the system as an input. This isn’t quite like throwing a cable between the “Audio Out” on one card into the “Audio In” on a second.

    The DRM-breaking happens using whatever licensed application is permitted to break that DRM (e.g., iTunes decrypting iTMS songs, WMP for their DRM, etc.), you’re just capturing the output of that immediately afterward and accepting it as an input stream.

    At least that’s what it looks like to me.

  3. It’s the “analog hole” made digital.

  4. Jim Johnson says:

    Although not a lawyer, I would think that including “legal” and “music you’ve bought” is their way of fighting off DMCA lawsuits. Would this provide them some protection from liability? Would the Napster decision apply to them as well?

    In any event It sounds just like what Jeremy and Derek have described… you play your “purchased” music and while it’s playing for you through your speakers, it is also loading it into memory to be saved as a file on your hard drive.

  5. elliottg says:

    It suggests that anything destined for a speaker can be recorded. The “legal” is just there for cover. I suppose that the card could disallow input from streaming audio, but I don’t know how or why it would. Seth nailed it – “the analog hole made digital”.

  6. I agree with Jeremy, although I would contend that in this scenario, the generational degradation is going to be extremely minimal if it never leaves the card itself before it’s reinjected into the system as an input. This isn’t quite like throwing a cable between the “Audio Out” on one card into the “Audio In” on a second.

    The DRM-breaking happens using whatever licensed application is permitted to break that DRM (e.g., iTunes decrypting iTMS songs, WMP for their DRM, etc.), you’re just capturing the output of that immediately afterward and accepting it as an input stream.

    At least that’s what it looks like to me.

  7. Hi, sounds like it makes a copy from a playback, like making personal copies of videocassettes. so instead of merely breaking dmca by breaking encryption, this plays the music and the music is received by an encoder then re-encrypted in the format of your choice, with any degradation that occurs between the playback and re-encoding. this is sort of like what some of the apple software does with screen and speaker capture at the os level.

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