July 08, 2010
| by Julie Jacobson
Home automation manufacturer AMX is the latest casualty of the DVD CCA, which recently notified the company that its MAX product line “is non-complaint with the provisions and conditions required in the current CSS License Agreement.”
CSS (Content Scramble System) is the encryption scheme that protects copyrighted DVDs; the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) is the organization that licenses the technology.
AMX denies the DVD CCA’s claim, but rather than fight the association, AMX has elected to kill MAX. The line includes more than a dozen Linux-based servers that could rip and store copy-protected DVDs, and distribute the content to multiple client devices.
It’s the same issue currently facing Kaleidescape (and earlier Real Networks), which has chosen to meet the DVD CCA in court. Then again, DVD servers are Kaleidescape’s bread and butter, whereas the MAX Media Server is just one small product in the vast AMX repertoire—and not an overwhelmingly popular one at that.
AMX began marketing MAX in 2003, when it acquired Media Access Solutions (MAS), the two-person company that developed the media server technology.
When Kaleidescape was sued in 2005, industry watchers wondered why the DVD CCA would go after the little guy rather than AMX, with its deeper pockets. Most believed that Kaleidescape, with its strong media-server brand, would send a stronger message to the industry.
In any case, not long after AMX launched the MAX brand, the company aimed the product at commercial facilities, primarily for digital signage applications in which the customers owned the content. For that reason, AMX CEO Rashid Skaf told CE Pro back then that he was not concerned about the DVD CCA.
The MAX servers, which have gained little traction in the home, have gone the way of recently departed servers from Sunfire, Escient, Colorado vNet, Imerge, Xperinet.
In a letter to customers and partners obtained by Electronic House, AMX CTO Robert Noble wrote:
On April 12th AMX received notification from the DVD Copy Control Association that they believe our MAX product line is non-complaint with the provisions and conditions required in the current CSS License Agreement. AMX disagrees with the assertions made by the DVD CCA.
In an effort to avoid any negative impact to our customers, AMX will no longer offer any products in the MAX Content Server line.
Product Discontinuance Notices will be issued today for the affected products and they will immediately be removed from the AMX product portfolio. AMX will honor normal warranty services for existing systems.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.