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DSL Gateways to Fight Piracy by Marking Video 337

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the movie-dna-testing dept.
Stony Stevenson wrote with an article about home gateway devices being set up to identify video pirates. The article reads: "Home gateway manufacturer Thomson SA plans to incorporate video watermarking technology into future set-top boxes and other video devices. The watermarks, unique to each device, will make it possible for investigators to identify the source of pirated videos. By letting consumers know the watermarks are there, even if they can't see them, Thomson hopes to discourage piracy without putting up obstacles to activities widely considered fair use, such as copying video for use on another device in the home or while traveling to work."
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DSL Gateways to Fight Piracy by Marking Video

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  • I'm not buying. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:49PM (#18370499) Homepage Journal
    Suppose I recieve a DVD that I honestly believe is legit. And - due to my error, or someone else's error or someone else's falsehood - it is not. Or the baby- or pet- sitter makes a few copies on my machine while we're away.
    So copies go out with my ID attached? No, thanks. I'll buy brand X. Or Y. But not Thompson.
    A tool is supposed to do things my way. Not the manufacturer's way.

    If Thompson wants to help prevent copyright infringement, there are better ways to do it, such as financial support for civil lawsuits against pirates.
    • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:03PM (#18370619)
      A tool is supposed to do things my way. Not the manufacturer's way.

            What you fail to understand is that it's so much easier to find a way to screw you over than to actually come up with something new and useful.

            I started getting pissed when I found out the video card that I had bought specifically with a TV-Out port wouldn't let me watch DVDs I had purchased on my TV (despite this being fair use) because surely I was a pirate and wanted to copy that DVD. Well fuck them, now I rip movies that I rent and/or download movies, and watch them anywhere I want in my house. Call me a thief. They are bigger theives - I don't remember a label on my video card saying "Hey, the TV Out port you want and paid an extra $100 for won't actually WORK due to something called Macrovision".

            Come and get me, no DMCA in THIS country. Let's see, which movie should I download tonight?
      • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jmv (93421) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:11PM (#18370659) Homepage
        Come and get me, no DMCA in THIS country. Let's see, which movie should I download tonight?

        Do you think they really care if you download a movie? Of course, they pretend to, but in the end it just helps them 1) spread their movies and 2) claim that everyone's a pirate and they're losing 100 trillion dollars due to piracy. Go watch an independent movie instead.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        I belive this setback is in the software used to watch the DVD with. I have a card in a Dual boot, linux/win98 and the 98 software gives me the finger where the linux doesn't give a damn at all. It might be possible to find an older DVD player and not update it so see what happens. Or maybe find a Koppix cd or something like that which contains DVD support on the live CD.
    • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:05PM (#18370631)

      Suppose I recieve a DVD that I honestly believe is legit. And - due to my error, or someone else's error or someone else's falsehood - it is not.

      Huh? This isn't reporting you when you put a black-market DVD into your hardware; it's allowing a mechanism for investigation when you put a movie or show this hardware rips up on BitTorrent or YouTube.

      Personally, I think this is an outstanding compromise; it leaves legitimate fair use rights in place, but provides a means for large-scale-distribution violations to be prosecuted. It's certainly a far better deal than mandatory DRM, which in all seriousness is the other contender. I'll take watermarks over DRM any day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573)
        It's certainly a far better deal than mandatory DRM, which in all seriousness is the other contender. I'll take watermarks over DRM any day.

        Since when is it up to anyone except the owner of the content to protect their interests? There is only one reason that a third party would want to get involved with this bullshit -- kickbacks from the MPAA and other media conglomerates.
        • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:27PM (#18370761)

          There is only one reason that a third party would want to get involved with this bullshit -- kickbacks from the MPAA and other media conglomerates.

          No, no, no. The reason for a hardware manufacturer to get involved (and I think it's a damned compelling one) is avoidance of contributory infringement suits.

          • I don't know if he is right, but someone pleae mod him 'interesting', at least.
          • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:21AM (#18371591) Journal

            But the courts have already ruled repeatedly and conclusively that manufacturers of VCRs cannot be held liable for contributory infringement. I fail to see how "on a digital device" should suddenly change the way the law handles things, and if it does, the law should be changed. Contributory infringement is no more valid for a PVR than "on the internet" patents are for common everyday activities, and for precisely the same reason.

            • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:33AM (#18371663)
              Hey, Dave -- it's been a while. Look me up if you're even in the Austin area, 'kay?

              Back onto topic... the Betamax case is no longer so sweeping as it once was; the breadth of its holding was significantly reduced by Grokster, and there are ongoing attempts to legislate around it entirely. A simple PVR is safe for now, but once one starts adding any kind of network functionality to it (even functionality clearly intended for space-shifting within a household), things become significantly less clearcut.

              As you say, the law should be changed for the better (and ongoing attempts to change it for the worse should be resisted) -- but if I were a hardware manufacturer in that line of business right now, I'd want to cover my arse for the event that it changes for the worse.
              • by dgatwood (11270)

                In the event that I'm that far south, will do.

                Frankly, I wouldn't want to be a hardware manufacturer in that line of business right now. The amount of crap that they have to put up with is unbelievable.... :-)

                I don't disagree with you that it's being eroded, but I don't think the erosion is as bad as you thing. Grokster was pretty much designed for piracy. It's a little extreme to take a case against software that was primarily designed for mass sharing of other people's content and try to apply that

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Score Whore (32328)
          Do you not see the perfectly logical conclusion in your post? The content producers want to protect their interests so they pay a third party to provide a harware solution. Duh. You do know it's completely legal for a company to do business with another company? "Kick backs" my ass.
          • I'm not sure that it should be legal for me to pay a vendor to remove functionality from a product that the vendor is going to sell to you.

            Would it be reasonable for Sony to pay Toyota to not include CD players in cars so that people would be more likely to buy aftermarket players? Would it be reasonable for the Wall Street Journal to pay the New York Times to not include stock prices? I'm not sure that there's something wrong there, but it's damn well sketchy - and it damn well wouldn't be good for consum

            • by cduffy (652)
              I think you misunderstood what he was saying -- either that, or I did.

              HARDWARE_VENDOR_A wants to build a system by which rich folks can digitize their whole DVD library and play back the movies they own on any screen in their house without needing to shuffle DVDs around. Thing is, the last folks who tried to do that were on the receiving end of a very nasty lawsuit from the motion picture industry (true story). So what does HARDWARE_VENDOR_A do? Well, one option is to buy a watermark chip from HARDWARE_VEND
              • In your particular example, the true story part leaves out a few details.

                Primarily that the company -- Kaleidescape [kaleidescape.com] that was the subject of the true story was doing roughly the same thing - essentially making it impossible to digitally pull the ripped video off of their unit's hard disks in a redistributable manner. They were doing it in conjunction with the DVD Copy Control Association and thought they had the sign-off from them to go forward. They got sued anyway.

                I hope Thompson gets the same. You can'
              • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Informative)

                by DeadChobi (740395) <DeadChobi AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:15AM (#18371559)
                How does watermarking remove functionality from a product? You can copy the DVD all you want, go through the analog hole, whatever. Hell, you could post your entire library on bittorrent. The only thing watermarking does is allow for a convenient method of tracking you should you actually use the technology to violate someone's copyright.

                This is definitely an acceptable compromise between copyright holders wanting control and the purchaser of a copy of a work wanting control. I'd stand behind watermarking because it restores good faith and trust to the system, which is what I'm really complaining about whenever I bitch about DRM. I just want the copyright holder to trust me so that I don't have to deal with their rights "management." If I wanted their management I would've hired one of them as a consultant.

                What the watermark does is skip all the easily broken DRM and go straight to a method by which the copy's origins can be determined. This returns some form of personal accountability to the process of piracy.

                To the GP and anyone else who suggests that watermarking is unacceptable because it also reduces functionality, I've got a question. How, exactly, does a watermark with no other DRM prevent you from doing whatever you want with what you buy?
                • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Interesting)

                  by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:57AM (#18371789) Homepage

                  It degrades the quality of the video by inserting useless noise into it.

                  More generally, it's a feature that isn't beneficial to the owner of the product. If it's my video encoder, it should do things that are useful for me - a feature that serves no purpose except to allow others to track my behavior doesn't belong in my stuff.

                  This isn't unlike the unique tracking patterns that laser printers output on printouts. Sure, I'm less likely to use a TV encoder in the process of producing an anonymous political message, but embedding insidious tracking codes into all of our electronics just isn't something that should be considered even slightly socially acceptable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        it leaves legitimate fair use rights in place, but provides a means for large-scale-distribution violations to be prosecuted

        Yeah right. It allows the OP's scenario to result in his bankruptcy while doing fuckall to stop real pirates, since they just rip the DVD and copy the cover art (or make more DVDs in the same factory). This is only good for harrassing morons who upload dvd clips to youtube and the people they live with.

        • by cduffy (652)
          It's also about helping YouTube avoid massive liability by giving them better support for detecting ripped content before putting it up in the first place -- which also stops the moron in question from being sued into bankruptcy, at least unless he's moronic enough to then go and find a different hosting service which doesn't look for watermarks.
          • Isn't the DMCA enough? They've got an out if they remove the videos upcon receiving a complaint. Anyway, good luck watermarking the sucker - I'm no videohead, but I could probably strip or render useless a watermark that's going to youtube.
            • by Eskarel (565631)
              Stripping watermarks is a lot harder than it looks most of the time. Even non obtrusive ones.

              As for making it useless, if youtube detects a mangled watermark they know you pirated it and they'll block it.

          • And what of Fair Use, such as if someone uploads a watermarked excerpt of the movie? Do you really think that would stop the MPAA from suing and forcing the uploader to suffer massive financial damage (either through settlement or legal fees) even though the uploader is ultimately in the right?

      • by wall0159 (881759)
        I think it's bloody stupid. How the hell are they going to know who's bought a particular DVD - even though it might have a unique watermark?

        The only way to do this would be to have a huge database where everyone was represented, along with serial codes for all the movies they'd bought. Maybe that would link in with a national ID card.

        Of course, you'd also have to notify them of any DVDs bought/sold second hand - hence there'd have to be a central DVD 2nd-hand dealer - no doubt controlled by the same corpor
        • by cduffy (652)
          Huh?

          The watermarks aren't used to determine whether you're allowed to watch something; they're used to track down people who are sharing things for which the copyright owners haven't permitted redistribution. They're applied not to the media, but to the equipment that records and plays said media. I don't know where you get the idea that personally recorded media would also need to be watermarked.

          The massive database you refer to doesn't need to track media ownership, but only player location (ownership can
      • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:11AM (#18371545)

        Personally, I think this is an outstanding compromise

        Compromise?! Who decided the copyright cartel deserves even that?

        I'll take watermarks over DRM any day.

        And I'll continue to demand neither, thankyouverymuch!

        • by cduffy (652)

          Compromise?! Who decided the copyright cartel deserves even that?

          They may not deserve it; however, what they deserve is far less important than what they manage to actually get.

          If giving an inch of the public's privacy prevents the legislature from taking a mile out of our ability to make fair use of 3rd-party content, it's better than the alternative. Denying that we're even on the defensive does nothing to reduce the ground being lost, and reminds me very much of Executive-branch positioning regarding

      • I think this is an outstanding compromise; it leaves legitimate fair use rights in place

        This isn't about protecting "Moe and the Big Exit" from piracy, it's about ensuring all video footage loaded onto the net is uniquely identified. It's about ensuring whisleblowers are caught and punished for exposing corporate masters and that (eventually) indie films can be blocked at source.

        Tagging illegally recorded video is one thing, and might just be acceptable. Tagging every bit of video you upload is an enorm

        • Re:I'm not buying. (Score:4, Informative)

          by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:51AM (#18371751)
          You're reading the blatantly false article summary, not the actual article.

          This is not about DSL gateways, it's about "home media gateways" and set-top boxes. They do not in fact tag all video uploaded -- only video ripped using the hardware in question.
      • by mpe (36238)
        Personally, I think this is an outstanding compromise; it leaves legitimate fair use rights in place, but provides a means for large-scale-distribution violations to be prosecuted. It's certainly a far better deal than mandatory DRM, which in all seriousness is the other contender. I'll take watermarks over DRM any day

        However cunning the steganography involved in these watermarks is the details are likely to become known quite quickly. Making it possible to alter the data. No doubt someone could easily pr
    • Much of the video on the internets is highly compressed and would therefore destroy and kind of subtle watermarking technique, thinking that the watermark was just spurious noise that doesn't need to be recreated.
      • by jmv (93421)
        I don't think it's that robust overall, but this kind of stuff is usually robust to compression, even with heavy losses. The idea is that the message is only a few bits, so it's embedded with a *huge* amount of redundency. To get rid of a watermark, you generally have to specifically attack it, not just throw in noise/compression/whatever blindly.
    • "If Thompson wants to help prevent copyright infringement, there are better ways to do it, such as financial support for civil lawsuits against pirates."

      Of course if Thompson REALLY wanted to help prevent copyright infringement, they could lobby to have copyright lessened or repealed. Repealing copyright would instantaneously stop 100% of copyright infringement.
      • Yes -- and it would stop 98% of the creative output in the world. Rare is the artist who will dance for your amusement while starving to death.
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:52PM (#18370531)
    I don't typically steal, but I also don't typically buy products that worry that I might be a thief either. Hell, stealing might become the 'in' thing someday!
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Telecommando (513768) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:52PM (#18370533)
    Brilliant! Just Brilliant!

    Now all those nasty, evil video pirates will suddenly be forced to... to...

    Buy someone else's gateway???

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Thomson sells its gateways and STBs to network operators -- one of its biggest customers is Orange, the Internet access subsidiary of France Telecom, which packages the devices as the LiveBox, an all-in-one terminal for telephony, television, Wi-Fi and Internet access.

      Orange is giving the LiveBox away with service.

      Thomson &/or the MPAA (or their euro equivalents) can pressure/bribe the big network operators into only giving out free watermarking sets.

      What a coup that would be for them. Each media compan

  • That is assuming of course, that enough of these devices get sold for anyone to care about stripping the watermarking.

    -jcr

  • How long until someone writes a small app to scan each video frame for the watermark?
    • by jonnythan (79727)
      Probably never.

      Who the fuck is Thompson? I've never even heard of them, much less seen any of their routers.

      I don't think that this is the strategy you use when you want to take on Linksys/Cisco, Netgear, and D-Link.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)
        They used to be behind RCA(apparently they sold the brand).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomson_SA [wikipedia.org]

        They are about a quarter of the size of Cisco(based on revenues), but they dwarf Netgear and D-Link.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cduffy (652)
        The article title is sorely misleading; this isn't about DSL gateways; rather, it's about settop boxes, "home media routers" and the like.

        They aren't trying to take on Linksys, Netgear or D-Link -- at least, not with the products in question.
  • by glittalogik (837604) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:57PM (#18370561)
    How hard is it to understand that if your product does something your customers don't like, they'll either circumvent it, or go elsewhere?

    Way to alienate the general public, guys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why would the general public care? Firstly, outside of the Slashdot RDF, most people don't seem to care about DRM. They bought DVDs before CSS was cracked, they buy songs from iTunes, and so on.

      Secondly, the only legitimate reason for the "general public" to be annoyed by protection technologies is if it interferes with their fair use rights under law. Uploading shit to P2P networks is not a part of those rights, but it's what this is designed to discourage. So there can be no legitimate reason for annoya

  • Can we (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:58PM (#18370571) Journal
    just wrap the file in a zip archive or similar?
  • It's unclear to me from the article whether these devices would be watermarking video provided by the ISP, cable company (or other TV broadcaster), etc. so that they would know, for example, that you're retransmitting video broadcast to your set. Or does this mean that if you transfer a video file (which might or might not be something that you own the copyright for), and it happens to pass through the wrong DSL modem, the modem will alter the bits in the file to embed the watermark. If it is the second,
    • ... does this mean that if you transfer a video file (which might or might not be something that you own the copyright for), and it happens to pass through the wrong DSL modem, the modem will alter the bits in the file to embed the watermark[?]

      If it systematically alters the bits of a user's payload at all (especially if it's in a way that passes the usual redundancy checks) it's "data corruption".

      I'd be interesting to see what happens if somebody sues an ISP who provides one of these modems with their serv
    • by twitter (104583) on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:03AM (#18371503) Homepage Journal

      Suppose that I send my family home video. Does it watermark that?

      I imagine they can add their evil bits to whatever you do. The ISP is not going to ask you, they are just going to do it. When I say evil, I mean it.

      This is not about "piracy", it's about control. Real copyright violations happen in places where people set up DVD printing presses and make exact copies of works. As soon as these devices are everywhere, the AAs will redefine "piracy" to get the pay per play they want out of you. Suckering you for entertainment cash should be the least of your concerns, though. Imagine a world where nothing can be done anonymously ever again. The modem is a computer and it can be programed to track your communications. Whistleblowers and activists, beware.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:03PM (#18370621) Journal
    The trouble comes when someone 'borrows' your recording and then puts a copy of it on the Internet... there is still no accountability in the correct manner.

    When you buy a car (yes, car analogies might not be perfect) you have a title and registration that you keep with the car for proof of ownership. When you buy a CD, you have the physical media as proof. The entertainment industries need to have something as simple, and usable as these examples.

    Sure, as an idea there are holes in it, but the premise is good. DRM is not a registration that works as it is too limiting, just as the EU! When someone steals your CD, you just go without it and have to buy another one unless you have insurance that covers it. If they steal your car, same again. If either is used to commit a crime, you are not complicit but that is not how the current music industry is looking at things.

    Individual watermarks in the content might sound good, but they can be stolen, and if its anything like DRM, it will get cracked in no time. The only sound answer is to make it not worth pirating by making the cost reasonable, the usefulness of the media robust, and the ease of use to the consumer no more difficult than toasting bread in an electric toaster.

    Time again to mention that a CD sharing club of you and 20 of your friends can pirate music and videos indefinitely without being caught in order to reduce the cost of music and videos to a level that is acceptable. Its the Internet part that gets people caught. The entertainment industry is hell bent on fscking the consumer, and those people will continue to take back from the industry as long as they are being ripped off, or feel that they are.

    Even opportunistic piracy is going to continue, has always been around, and cannot be stopped. They only thing they can stop is the online wholesale piracy. This 'watermarking' won't stop you and your CD club from your activities as long as nobody posts a copy to the Internet and gets caught.

    Until they get these criteria right, people will pirate music and videos because they have enough reason to dismiss the minor chance they will be caught. The 'industry' will simply have to figure out how to make money while providing what the consumer has overwhelmingly demonstrated that they want... or just go out of business.

    Personally, I vote for them going out of business. Let newer, better business rise from the ashes of the current entertainment industry!
    • The problem with your analogy is that Volvo and Toyota have sold me unique cars that they haven't sold to anyone else. The entertainment industry wants to eat it's cake and have it too, they want the convenience of digital distribution, but they don't want the headache to make it truely secure.

      To make DRM truely work, they have to sell a unique version to each consumer and manage unique keys. If someone shares their keys, those keys get revoked, and that consumer is forever shuned. Queue the movie naz
    • The car analogy actually isn't a bad one. If someone borrows your car and uses it to commit a crime, it'll be impounded, and you're responsible for it. It's your car. If you can't trust your friends, don't give them access to it. You can always pursue reimbursement from them in civil court, but it's the exact same scenario.

      You're also responsible if you leave an axe in your yard and a kid falls on it. You can certainly argue that the kid shouldn't have been on your property and that the parents should
      • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:47PM (#18370875) Journal
        Your comments have just reminded me of the one thing more scary than the **AA stupid ass business model... the possibility of seeing 'copyright infringement insurance' advertisements on late night television! Yes, don't let it happen to you, you go to the grocery store and while you are shopping someone steals your entertainment property from your vehicle and posts it to the Internet. What are you to do? With a copyright policy from bigassInsurance Inc. you won't have to worry... blah blah blah

        Yes, if all entertainment media was serialized, it might work, but then the insurance vultures would have a toe hold on a new kind of policy: insurance against copyright infringement 'accidents' just as you can get them to insure against loss of employment, sickness, and autotheft etc. Then we would have to pay 50 times what the content is worth, and it could never be given to anyone else free of encumbrances.

        The other implication that comes with serialized media is something the **AA cannot live with: Ownership! If it is serialized, its my copy and I can sell it, loan it to friends, and all the other things that come with ownership. Currently, the entertainment industry is leaning toward the rental business model rather than ownership. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a copyrighted work, but the car I drive has patented materials in it too, but I still own it!

        There are a lot of ideas, but none of the good ones include the current **AA business model.
    • by shmlco (594907)
      "Let newer, better business rise from the ashes of the current entertainment industry!"

      If they're businesses, they're still going to need to make money. Make a movie for $20 million dollars, and you still need to make at least that just to break even.

      Much if your rant is aimed at those "greedy" businesses, but from my perspective all of those people on the other side who assume they're entitled to something for nothing are equally greedy, and no more than the flip side of the same coin.
  • Does it mean they'll let me capture video through the Firewire port on a cable TV set-top box free of 5C protection? I'd happily use something that watermarked the video I captured, since I only make legal use of the stuff I record from TV.

    I'm guessing no, though, which means that this is just another example of the huge consumer electronics industry kissing the ass of the much smaller content cabal, while making meaningless overtures to consumers.
  • 1. Steal somebody's decoder box.
    2. Make and distribute pirated videos.
    3. Profit !!

    And there is a hidden benefit here. You know how Thomson is saying "if consumers know the watermark is there, they'll be disincented to pirate videos"? Well it works the same way in reverse. If media companies know the watermark is there, they'll be disincented to commit further acts of DRM.

    Media companies have already demonstrated writ large that they are too stupid to grasp the implications of (and hackability of) sof

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      And there is a hidden benefit here. You know how Thomson is saying "if consumers know the watermark is there, they'll be disincented to pirate videos"?

      More like the other way around. A person knows that if he will record a movie from his own cable, it will carry his watermark, so if it ever for any reason will end up accessible on a public network, he will be sued. On the other hand, if he will download a pirated copy, he shouldn't worry about it getting out -- at worst it has pirate's watermark.

      Result: tim

    • If media companies know the watermark is there, they'll be disincented to commit further acts of DRM.

      If you believe that, I should introduce you to my Nigerian friend -- I'm sure you'll be happy to help him out of his bind!

      Fundamentally, the MAFIAA don't give a shit about small-scale "piracy;" what they really care about is control. Until they get to the point where they get paid for every instance of every person playing every piece of media on every device, they're not going to stop pushing for continua

  • by for_usenet (550217) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:07PM (#18370645)
    I've wondered and bounced the idea off a couple of other people that would water-marking be a better solution than DRM ? With the watermark and no DRM, you can do as you please with your music/movie/media, and if it gets out onto the file-sharing networks - you'll be responsible ...

    I know it's not a perfect solution - but I personally would not mind such a scheme, if it lets me do what I want (personally) with digital files I purchase and record.
    • With the watermark and no DRM, you can do as you please with your music/movie/media, and if it gets out onto the file-sharing networks - you'll be responsible ...

      Don't be confused, this is just another means of implementing digital restrictions. It corrupts your files, removes anonymity from all your activities and sets you up for more of the same. DRM free means that and only that. Anything that identifies you is designed to enforce limits one way or another. One of the first things the bad guys wil

  • Fake watermark generator in 5... 4... 3... 2
  • by mr_matticus (928346) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:16PM (#18370683)
    After all the DRM warpaint and hysterical tirades about fair use, a company comes along and says "fine, we can protect our content without putting usage restrictions on it." What's the result: a handful of rabid Slashdotters attacking the idea.

    Wake up and face the fact that fair use is dying, and if you want to save it, you've got to stop the tide before you can reverse it. All the fantasizing in the world about "starting from scratch" is never going to happen. If you continually indicate that you're not willing to work with content providers at all, then don't expect content providers to have any consideration for your interests. Of course, this is Slashdot, so maybe correcting problems is less desirable than bitching about them (but Slashdotter hypocrisy protects us from the same derision we give to politicians and executives for doing the same thing).

    I know, I know, "they" started "it." Whatever. If you can't endorse someone taking a positive step toward a fair and equitable compromise between content providers and consumers, at least recognize the fact that one of those "evil corporations" is reaching out, even just a little.

    And before the privacy nutjobs come out of the woodwork, do you think that your cable box and/or ISP don't already have the capacity to track what you do? Having watermarks is no more an invasion of privacy than having a Safeway club card or a commercial DVR. All that matters is what you DO with that information.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you continually indicate that you're not willing to work with content providers at all, then don't expect content providers to have any consideration for your interests.

      If they want to sell anything at all, they'll listen to congress - all we have to do is fight for our rights. Compromising with these people will only result in them coming back later asking for another compromise that pushes the line further in our direction. What we need is legislation explicitly protecting our rights to enrich the p

      • All well and good except that people don't really care. You think we need legislation protecting rights; joe consumer probably just wants cheaper DVDs; corporations and artists think (in some cases with good reason) that their own rights are being abused. Remember that copyright itself is an incentive for artists to produce in the first place, with the added benefit that one day it becomes free. It's not, in fact, a barrier to public consumption (though it can be abused in that way).

        No copyright, no cont
    • Copyright as a restriction on personal sharing is already dead. There are only two questions: 1.) Will the media distribution companies notice that they have to change their business models fast enough to survive, and 2.) How long will it take for the general public to realize that there's nothing wrong with downloading music and movies on the internet.

      Currently, the pirates provide decent quality DRM-free releases of music and movies for free. The only points of competition that the media distribution co

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2007 @01:04AM (#18371513)
      Just a few words from a "privacy nutjob". If the Internet was presented to the public in its current form back when it was new, it would fail miserably, just as every other marketing-inspired controlled network and data service did before it. It became popular BECAUSE people like the idea of being able to do what they want, when they want.

      Corporations love the internet because it is, for the most part, free to them. At least, it's several orders of magnitude below the what the cost would be if they actually had to pay for their own infrastructure to send packets around the planet. Those of us unfortunate to live in towns with taxpayer-funded stadiums know full well that a corporation will gladly get someone else to pay for their fixed costs. It's no different with the Internet. They didn't build it, didn't think of it, and didn't think much of it when it came into popular use. So, they were late to the party and now they want to write the rules. They put up insecure e-commerce apps and complained when they got hacked. It wouldn't be possible for "hackers" (their definition) to cause "damage" to corporate assets if they didn't connect those assets to an inherently insecure network in the first damned place! Well, fuck them! Ditto for government, which does at least deserve credit for laying the foundation for the Internet. However, then it occurred to them the "damage" that can be done by people sharing information freely. (I'm not talking about pirated DVDs, either. I don't steal or even buy movies or music because it's all such crap these days it's not worth paying attention to.) Now government does everything they can to discourage anonymity, to make people think they're constantly being watched, and to generally discourage anything but online shopping also. Oh, and be sure to pay your taxes online so some corporation can charge you a "convenience fee", while we're at it.

      Well, when the net is turned into a safe, locked down haven for commerce and everyone watches what's sent to them for their montly content subscription fees and nobody can do anything they're not "supposed" to do, people will get bored and drop off. Hackers, real ones, will have moved on to more interesting things anyway. Want to stop this? How about mandatory data destruction laws? ISPs should be able to retain logs only for a brief period of time and then only for the purpose of network maintenance and security. They should be prohibited by law from sharing this information with anybody without a court order. How about laws that put the same kinds of protections on your private messages that corporations bought and paid for concerning their "intellectual property"? This isn't about what's technically possible, it's about what's legal. That your government (pick one, they're all doing it) is currently trying to go the exact opposite direction shows what they think of you. Remember that well.

      Oh, and never use frequent shopper cards. If you don't have a choice, at least never use them with your actual name and address on them.
      • All of that has little to do with privacy and a lot more to do with economics. The capitalist system seeks to maximize itself--including taking over all forms of communication to increase sales. Do you think the first operators of printing presses anticipated that most of what's printed and sold in any real volume isn't great knowledge or engaging discussion or moving works of literature--it's advertising and porn and commoditized serial novels.

        Do you think the inventors of the telephone would have been a
    • "Wake up and face the fact that fair use is dying, and if you want to save it, you've got to stop the tide before you can reverse it. [...] If you continually indicate that you're not willing to work with content providers at all, then don't expect content providers to have any consideration for your interests. "

      On the contrary, fair use is actually getting better and better every day, and that's mostly because of our actions (and not the kindness of content providers).

      Translating the bible for instance
  • Oh, brother! (Score:5, Informative)

    by xigxag (167441) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:17PM (#18370689)
    I hate it when the editorial team tries to sound smart but totally messes it up. This has nothing to do specifically with "DSL Gateways." It's about videos coming through your cable or slingbox-like set top box (STB) being watermarked as they are being played or displayed. So that if you attempt to record said video, it will go out with your box's personal watermark on it. This is to discourage people from uploading TV shows or stuff they get off cable. It won't do jack shit to stop you from bittorrenting DVD rips or files you've gotten from other people.
    • by mikelieman (35628)
      And I would expect it would be a trivial matter of simply running a single program against a mpeg file to strip out the offending bits before seeding.

      I *suspect* it would take about 24-48 hours from release of this technology for it to be worked around.

      • Buy 10 of those box. Start saving data with same encoder, same hardware material same software. On each 10 box film the same 1 or 5 minutes sequence. Compare. Chance is , there will be slight diffference but they will be at random place, whereas the watermark will appear at the same place. I assume this will be something visual or auditive.
  • How about making it legal to download copies? It would still be illegal to sell someone else's copyrighted material. However, in addition to making it legal to download copies, the government would make them a tax-exempt organization.

    Now, tell me, would the companies supposedly losing money to piracy end up having more money if they were tax exempt as opposed to going around suing people (which makes them look like a bad guy) and such?
    • ... and that's where stupid tax loopholes come from.

      Copyright is intended to apply to for-profit distribution. Anything else is just money grubbing on the part of content distributors. There's no reason to compromise with these people beyond "you can keep your government granted monopoly on for-profit distribution".

    • by kevinadi (191992)
      Nah, never happen. What will happen, though, is the copyright cartel made it ILLEGAL to download anything that is remotely connected with copyright while applying for tax exemption due to "piracy". All the while continuing to sue "guilty" parties.

      They don't care if they look like the bad guys. They don't even care that they ARE the bad guys. Trust me, if even a hint of tax exemption is whispered about, the media companies will be jumping all over it with their usual "piracy" excuse.

      Perhaps it's fitting that
      • What I meant is as follows.

        A person or business creates material then copyrights it.
        The person or business has two choices.

        Choice one: Do as they do now. Pay taxes on their income generated from the copyrighted material, and go after those illegally downloading said material.

        Choice two: Choose a tax-exempt option. They would be exempt from federal taxes on the income generated from the copyrighted material. However, if they so choose to do such a thing, the material becomes public domain. However, it would
  • The DVD you got from Netflix has a watermark, so if it is pirated, we will KNOW that it is either you or one of the other 412 people who got the same disk!!!
  • Why is piracy so staunchly defended in the tech community? I know rationalizations like fair use are quoted but the truth is people want free movies and music. The piracy on this scale and technology are a recent thing. I know it was the stone age but when I was growing up people saved up for a record album, yes I mean vinyl records. If they couldn't aford it they just listened to the radio. There's nothing in the Constitution about free exchange of copyrighted material, if I record a song you don't own it
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ---Why is piracy so staunchly defended in the tech community? I know rationalizations like fair use are quoted but the truth is people want free movies and music.

      It's simpler than that. The rest of us apply for a job, and then do the work required for money delivered. Muscicans and such do things backwards: they do the job then whine when somebody uses the service already performed without paying for it. Then they want "protections" so they can do things backwards.

      Well, reality recently caught up with conte
    • Do you use a VCR? There's a show that you really want to watch, but you have another appointment. The broadcast flag is designed to prevent people from recording television shows for personal use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_flag/ [wikipedia.org] VCRs were declared legal by the Supreme Court, which the content providers want to overrule. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Corp._of_America _v._Universal_City_Studios%2C_Inc./ [wikipedia.org] The purpose of this is to make you pay for the episode which you already paid your cab

    • Re:Why Pirate? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by croddy (659025) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @11:46PM (#18371209)

      When you were growing up, making durable, faithful copies of an audio or video signal was a technically difficult and impressive service. It was a source of value, and the market rewards a service with value by exchanging other things of value for it. Today, making perfect copies of an audio or video signal is something with a material and skill cost so negligible it is practically nothing. The market does not support the sale of a service which has no value.

      I am more than happy to pay a musician to play a show, or a theater to project a film. The fact that making copies of media is no longer a service with economic value does not threaten the livelihood of a musician who can give a performance or a director who can create a film that is worth going out to see on a 50 foot screen. It only threatens the livelihood of professional copyists, whose business is now no longer worth anything.

      That's what technology does. It put the thesis typesetters, buggy-whip makers, and telegraphers out of business. I do not see anything special about it having eliminated the need for media middlemen.

  • How does a file passing through one of these devices get tagged? I would assume that they would attempt to modify some of the bytes in the stream. This is going to be detected on one end by doing a md5sum and the hashes not matching up. Also, if they modify bytes in transit, they could mangle a file easily if done incorrectly. They may even be liable for damages by purposely selling broken hardware.
  • > By letting consumers know the watermarks are there, even if they can't see them,
    > Thomson hopes to discourage piracy without putting up obstacles to activities widely considered fair use,

    "Wow! THIS SOUNDS GREAT! Where can I buy one."

    In other news today Thomson's share price plunged in the face of sluggish set top box sales. "We're mystified", said the Thomson spokesliar, "but we're expecting great demand for our new screenless TV. It has no screen, so lets see those rat consumers watch pirated video
  • Annoying -- being treated as criminals and all -- but, compared to DRM [defectivebydesign.org], a much better option.
    • by kevinadi (191992)
      I'm sorry, but if you think it's acceptable for a company seeking YOUR business to "treat you like a criminal", then you have a big problem. Why do we suddenly have to be responsible for their profitability? If they can't protect their own bottom end by providing a service that I want to buy, it's THEIR PROBLEM. If they have to call the government to help protect their goods and services, it's THEIR PROBLEM. If they're on the brink of bankruptcy due to piracy, maybe it's the invisible hand at work correctin
  • If a device sold to the user to perform non-threatening and legitimate activity can include something specifically designed to compromise user's privacy, then the device acts as an agent of copyright holder or of a government. This is fraud, police state or fascism, depending on how much government and companies are involved in exploiting the collected information.
  • Excellent, Thompson, you've just given up a part of the market to Chinese/Taiwanese/South African manufacturers, who will make the exact same boxes except without the Watermarking misfeature.

    This misfeature is something consumers won't want, in particular the Arrrh Matey pirates, therefore they wont buy.

    Keep up the good work.
  • So I'm wondering how long it's going to take some enterprising hacker to write new software to flash to the modems and disable this "feature"?

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