In the May 12 issue of Computerworld, it was incorrectly stated that the Ottawa-based firm Chipworks had been implicated in the pirating of the UK BSkyB Sky 10 smartcard.
Computerworld accepts that Chipworks has never been involved in any work, illegal or otherwise, on the Sky 10 card and has a policy which precludes it from knowingly reverse-engineering encryption circuits or television descrambler circuits for anyone other than the owner or a licensee of the technology. Computerworld wishes to offer a full and final apology for the error.
Computerworld's original statement was made on the basis of incorrect information received. Court documents subsequently obtained show the firm involved was in fact another Ottawa-based reverse-engineering company, Semiconductor Insights, which has been named in the course of a prosecution by the UK organisation Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), in relation to work it is alleged to have done on a pirate Sky 10 card called the Cardmate III.
Sky's expert witness, Donald Davies, has told a British court that Semiconductor Insights obtained a Sky 10 card for study before the broadcaster switched to the new generation in October 1995, and offered an initial quote of US$2000 "to estimate the cost of dumping the content of the microcontroller memory and recreating the net list of the ASIC chip" - the first steps in creating a pirate copy of the card.
Davies says that work and the additional task of implementing the ASIC with gate array technology was conducted at a cost of $US105,000. Davies estimated that as many as 17,000 FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) were eventually delivered for manufacture into cards.