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Ghostbusters Is First Film Released On USB Key 448

arcticstoat writes "Are you the USB keymaster? You could be soon if you pick up PNY's new 2GB USB flashdrive, which comes pre-loaded with Ghostbusters. A spokesperson for PNY explained that it comes with a form of DRM that prevents you from copying the movie. 'They have DRM protection,' explained the spokesperson, 'so customers can download the movie onto their laptop or PC if they wish, but they have to have the USB drive plugged in to watch the movie, as the DRM is locked in the USB drive.' The music industry has been playing around with USB flash drives for a few years now, but it hasn't been a massive success yet; will USB movies fare any better?"
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Ghostbusters Is First Film Released On USB Key

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  • terrible idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hellfish006 ( 1000936 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:47PM (#24862001)
    no that is a terrible idea, the last thing I want is a ton of USB drives laying around while I try to find any form of media.
    • Re:terrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:51PM (#24862055) Homepage Journal

      and let me guess, requires windows visa with the latest service pack (DRM++)

      • Re:terrible idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by tom17 ( 659054 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:56PM (#24862147) Homepage

        Well apparently it works on Linux as well (As long as it has the right KERNAL)


        2GB storage.
        Plug and play.
        Compatible with Windows ME, 2008, XP, Mac OS, 8.6 and Higher, Linux, Kernal 2.4X and any operating system with a USB port.
        Compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0.
        Size (H)2 (W)6.3 (D) 0.8cm.
        Black USB pendrive.
        Full length movie and link to argos website included.
        Full installation guide included.

        Although I guess that is wrong for the DRM stuff.


        • Re:terrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:11PM (#24862411) Homepage

          That can be easily fixed.

          Get a 4 gig usb key instead, a DVD of ghostbusters and a copy of handbrake. (you will want to rip with settings that give you about 3.2gig because the film was created on very low grade film it cant be compressed hard without artifacts.)

          rip the dvd to a OPEN unencumbered codec. place on USB key.

          Voila. same thing in BETTER quality without the DRM and is compatible with most computers.

          hey hollywood, until you offer me something that is NOT DRM encumbered I aint' buyin' it! I'll violate your copyright instead...

          • Re:terrible idea (Score:5, Informative)

            by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:26PM (#24862683)

            I thought that you were allowed by fair use to make copies for your personal use. You aren't violating copyright, since you purchased a DVD of Ghostbusters. The DMCA is another matter, though...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dave420 ( 699308 )

            And if enough people do this, we will ensure that no content provider ever dares to give us free movies in promotions! They'll just stick to selling them, and we can then pay for the movies instead. Yay progress!

            DRM, in this case, is a choice between DRM'd content and no content at all. I'd rather have DRM'd content than none.

            • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:48PM (#24864047) Journal

              DRM, in this case, is a choice between DRM'd content and no content at all. I'd rather have DRM'd content than none.

              I, on the other hand, would rather do with none than with DRM.

              I made that choice when the DVDs supplanted videotape and didn't buy DVD movies - or buy or rent any movies at all - until after CSS was cracked and the movie industry gave up on their attempts to stuff that genie back into the bottle. No blu-ray players for me, either. Stopped buying CDs, too, when they started experimenting with the early computer-speaker-blowing "copy protection" that corrupted the data and depended on the error correction on players to recover the music (and thus corrupted it when you got real errors from a dirty disk) and never really got back into purchasing new music after that.

              Never actually MADE a backup copy. And never downloaded a "pirated" song or movie, either. I just don't buy encumbered stuff.

              Instead I found other ways to amuse myself. (For instance: The amazing number and variety of animals outside the place on the high desert put on a continuous show that's quite entertaining - especially when I flush the well and create a puddle that draws them in from miles around. And there's lots of amusement on the net that is not "pirated" copyrighted content.)

              Interestingly, I don't really miss the corporate "content". Either the quality took a nosedive around that time or the product stopped matching my (quite broad) tastes. (Though from what I hear of some local bands it's more the former than the latter.)

              We all make our choices.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Even worse are the "extras" they throw in that get in your way. I want my DVD's to play the movie (and ONLY the movie) on insertion. That means ripping them and discarding the original DVD's. I also want to store DVD's in a binder, so my movie collection isn't a dominant fixture in the room. That means discarding the original cases. Notice how all the materials I paid for end up in the garbage 30 minutes after getting it home?

            And don't get me started on Blu-Ray. Unskippable commercials?!! I would rat

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DrXym ( 126579 )
            hey hollywood, until you offer me something that is NOT DRM encumbered I aint' buyin' it! I'll violate your copyright instead...

            The problem is that Hollywood isn't going to listen to you. They think that movie files can be DRM'd the same way as physical disks can and so they demand it.

            The problem is they are pissing in their own pool. The digital download scene is a wasteland of proprietary DRM schemes, proprietary players, proprietary devices attached to proprietary services. The result is consumers ar

    • Re:terrible idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:51PM (#24862057) Homepage Journal
      Would you rather use an optical drive's power-sucking moving parts, especially while using a laptop? Sometimes we don't have der internets to get us movies on a whim.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by exley ( 221867 )

      Sounds just as easy if not easier than dealing with an optical disc in some kind of a case. Easier to store, easier to carry. Doesn't help if you prefer something that's just a file stored on your hard drive, but it does have portability going for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      USB keys are definitely a terrible idea, especially if you're required to have the USB key plugged in to watch the movie. The DRM is going to kill this idea pretty damn quickly; I know I certainly won't be buying. Also, 2GB is barely enough capacity to distribute a film with a reasonable bit-rate and resolution. It's less than DVD and even with h.264 instead of MPEG2, it's not going to be as good.

      I've thought for a while that selling DRM-free movies on 32GB SD cards would be a better solution than Blu-ray

  • countdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:48PM (#24862007) Homepage

    Waiting to hear news that the movie's been unlocked in 3... 2... 1...

    • by scourfish ( 573542 ) <scourfish@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:50PM (#24862043)
      You're late to the scene, they had it cracked at 4
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Kingrames ( 858416 )
        Great. Just great. This is bad. real bad. Dogs and cats living together, Mass hysteria bad.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I wonder if you took an image of the USB key and mounted the image as a filesystem. Maybe that might work.

      Or... oh wait, Ghostbusters?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        It's the most brilliant DRM scheme to date.

        Step 1. Lock down media tight with cumbersome steps that are obnoxious to all.
        Step 2. Don't make a product anybody wants in the first place.

        It's brilliant. I bet piracy goes down 5000% with this new scheme. I wish I had thought of this. Let's also release 3 hour clips of a jar of mayonaise, locked down with DRM. I betcha nobody will crack it.
    • Re:countdown (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:52PM (#24862081) Homepage

      Agreed. There is no chance this DRM will work. My question is what are they afraid of? Ghostbusters has been on the pirate bay since at least 2005. I'm sure it was on Limewire and Kazaa before that. If they are testing to see if this DRM will work, they already know the answer. It works OK for the non-technical folk, and has no chance in hell for the people who would actually want to buy a movie on USB stick (if it didn't have DRM, at least). This just seems like one of the most useless ideas Hollywood has had.

      • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:00PM (#24862233)

        This just seems like one of the most useless ideas Hollywood has had.

        Hollywood made "Battlefield: Earth." This isn't even in the top ten, sorry buddy.

      • Re:countdown (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:03PM (#24862275) Homepage Journal

        They're more interested in proving the principle of the thing than protecting this particular film. If it gets ripped, Hollywood isn't going to be as upset as they would be if, say, Quantum of Solace were ripped. If it doesn't get ripped, well, distributing Return of the Revenge of Batman in 2012 on a 32Gb SD card isn't going to seem so crazy.

        The idea of tying digital copies to a particular storage device isn't new, and several parties have been trying to persuade Hollywood that this idea works for a while. HD DVD supported something called CPRM, where each writable disk could have embedded upon it, in an unwritable part of the disk, a key that copies could be tied to. The idea was that you'd (or a kiosk would) be able to download and burn to a disk an official, authorized, copy of a movie, that would be just as uncopyable as a regular AACS-controlled disk. This was an extension of attempts by the DVD Forum to make CPRM work with regular DVDs for some years, which looks set to be a part of the next revision of the DVD standard. You can imagine how attractive this is to studios who do not want to put hundreds of thousands of copies of low-interest content in stores around the world.

        Likewise, the "SD" in "SD card" is about a similar system, and initially that was the major difference between SD cards and MMC cards, though the two standards have grown apart since in other ways.

        Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view to a certain extent, but what is clear is that Hollywood isn't planning on abandoning DRM any time soon. As a result, they're not going to adopt any form of writable media to store digital copies unless it has some kind of DRM system built-in. This is a step towards that goal.

      • Heck, my parents had a VHS copy of the movie back in like 1990!

      • Re:countdown (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:34PM (#24862797) Homepage Journal

        Well, I'm guessing they're just wanting to see what people will do. For that purpose, an already widely "pirated" film would be ideal.

        The model of distributing the film on a USB key that serves as a DRM dongle is very curious. From a consumer point of view, this looks a lot like the way DVDs are supposed to work: the material is tied to the delivery vehicle. But -- you can also copy the movie to your hard disk, although it is still tied to the key. So, it's kind of an answer to iTunes, where you have a master key to your entire collection.

        The USB format allows you to do kinds of cryptographic protections you couldn't do in a DVD. If the system requires Vista style DRM protections in the OS, then cracking the protection would be considerably harder as long as you can't just copy the file onto a hard disk. Allowing the user to copy the file to disk makes this a very interesting test. Clearly, this means that crackers will be able to put the entire DRM protocol under a microscope.

        Maybe this is even what is intended.

        There are a number of possible outcomes, all of which are interesting to a company that is evaluating a technology:

        (1) The play from USB option is proven insecure.

        (2) The play from disk option is proven insecure.

        (3) One of [1,2], but not both.

        (4) Both of [1,2], but sufficiently inconvenient to deter casual infringers.


      • Re:countdown (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:14PM (#24863519) Homepage Journal

        Even without DRM, this is doomed to fail.
        Why would one buy a movie in less than 2 GB quality on a device that costs dollars to produce instead of an 8.5 GB version on a storage device that costs pennies to produce?
        And the latter being playable on computers and consumer devices, while the former needing not only a computer, but a certain operating system and special software?

        Surely, the producers must know that this is doomed to fail, and only use it as another example to show the ignorant politicians that "See, we gave them more options, but they STILL pirate! Legislate, legislate!"

    • by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:00PM (#24862229) Journal
      Apparently if it asks you if you're a god, you say YES!
    • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:12PM (#24862435) Journal

      Waiting to hear news that the movie's been unlocked in 3... 2... 1...

      Good news for you...

      Used copy of Ghost Busters: $5 - $10 or so
      2GB Flash Drive: $15 - $20
      DVD Shrink to strip out everything but the movie, compress enough to fit in 2GB, and save as an ISO image: Free
      VLC Media Player [] to play said ISO on Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS-X, BeOS, Windows, QNX (WTF is this?), or Syllable (WTF is this one as well?): Free

      Purchasing an overpriced, DRMed version of a movie (that will most likely be playable only on a Windows box) just because it's sold on a Flash Drive?: Pointless

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bhtooefr ( 649901 )

        QNX is a *nix for embedded applications, with a realtime microkernel, and Syllable is a fork of AtheOS, which was originally intended to be a modern Amiga-like OS.

    • Re:countdown (Score:4, Informative)

      by DJ Jones ( 997846 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:18PM (#24862529) Homepage
      USB Dongles have been cracked for years. Once you crack the key (a 2 minute process), you can dump the data off it and then emulate the dongle at will. See for yourself []

      This hasn't stopped my company from using them for licensing... Despite me demonstrating this.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:49PM (#24862031)
    Can't rip it, can't archive it, can't move it to my HDD without the dongle. And if the flash drive gets damaged, who you gonna call?
    • No to mention the wasted space on the device...

      Wonder though.. could you use dd to make a disc image of the whole drive and then mount it as loop and have it work?

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

        Sounds like there is DRM embedded in the video stream, so there's no way to decode it unless you have the right codec, which will look for the USB key.

        It also sounds like it'll be locked to Windows, since I doubt they put that much effort into making it for Linux as well... Or even OSX.

        It's really sad, because it's not like that's a hard movie to get... DVD, Divx... Just about every format imaginable is available on the web for that one.

    • by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:52PM (#24862079) Journal

      Can't rip it, can't archive it, can't move it to my HDD without the dongle. And if the flash drive gets damaged, who you gonna call?

      The pirate bay.

    • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:55PM (#24862121)
      Can't put it on a portable media player, either. What's the point of digital media you can't take on the go?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Can I play it with the video player of my choosing or do I have to install yet another video player? I don't really want to have 10 different video players on my system. I don't want to have to maintain/update every one of them. I don't want each of them thinking they need to change file associations.
    • Oh come on. You're not buying the movie, it's a "value add". It's a stupid gimmick, but the usual soulful bemoaning of DRM is more than a little silly in this case. If it gets damaged, you've lost it, just like any other product. If I buy a keyboard or a hard drive or a glass crack pipe and it breaks, I've lost the product. I find DRM whining to be nonsensical.
      • And if you buy a keyboard with a glass crack pipe built in, and one of them breaks, then you are really boned.
    • There is a point in the process between the USB Data and sending it to the display and sound. That is where the weekness is. Sure there is always the analog loophole. But you can get quality loss there. But for the hackers there is a spot where the data is sent and unencrypted and uncompressed that is probably sitting on your PC's Memory Before it sends it to the screen. If it is windows only then it may be some extra work, but nothing impossible... Heck a hardware hacker could probably find a way to duplic

    • I like to own media and do what I want

      You do own the media. It's just the contents of the media, the message if you will, that you don't own.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:50PM (#24862039)

    One thing about movies on USB keys: At least they won't be scratched like they can be on DVDs.

  • The DRM will be broken as soon as the first reasonably intelligent person gets his or her hands on one.

    • The DRM will be broken as soon as the first reasonably intelligent person

      who doesn't already own a copy of ghostbusters

      gets his or her hands on one.

      Which probably makes for a rather small set of people.

    • Yes sir because unlike Bluray or HDDVD, it doesn't cost tons of money to get a player hooked up to a computer.
    • There is some good USB based DRM solutions, that when implemented correctly would be pretty difficult to get the stuff off of. Something like the Wibu Key and its codemeter product. []

      It actually keeps all keys on the key itself, and they cannot be lifted (though they can be set).

      Fun technology but I doubt that this specific product goes that far as the Wibu key is expensive.

      • by FlyByPC ( 841016 )
        If it can be played, it can be copied.

        If nothing else, write your own video and audio drivers that "displays" the movie to a file.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        If I can play it, I can copy it.

        I am sure Windows has an equivalent of the following: "mplayer /media/disk/Ghostbusters.avi -dumpstream"

  • Denied (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:52PM (#24862075)

    A spokesperson for PNY explained that it comes with a form of DRM that prevents you from copying the movie.

    Aw. That's adorable.

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:53PM (#24862087) Homepage Journal

    You probably can't even get Ghostbusters down at your local "Three DVDs for $20" guy on the corner; his stock is all newer. Everybody who wants this movie already has it. I can't even imagine who they expect to sell it to, except as a novelty.

    Presumably they're keeping an eye on how long it will take for the DRM to be broken. People will break it for the challenge and because they hate DRM, but it's like stealing cockroaches from my kitchen: you're welcome to it.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:58PM (#24862181) Homepage Journal
    • Those watching on HURD must NOT cross the STREAMS
    • BSD users should try to avoid summoning Daemons
    • This video contains excellent girl-getting advice for those Slashdot readers who collect spores, moulds and fungi
    • Windows users are advised to scan for indications of rootkits, goddesses and crazed dogs
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:00PM (#24862245) Homepage
    Considering the DRM, how is it better than a regular DVD?
  • I think this is cool, but it will it work with my USB keychain changer?

  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:07PM (#24862351) Homepage

    I can see this take off actually, the product allows for all sort of novelty packaging and product shapes. Forget about browsing the alphabet of your closet to find Spider-Man, just find the Spider-Man shaped USB key! Collecting large quantities might make organised storage a bit of a challenge though.

    Does USB mass storage provide a way to ensure read-only access though? I wouldn't want some virus to have the potential to delete my porn, erm, Star Trek collection.

  • So you need to have this USB key to play the movie (some hidden key file or internal serial number one suspects). That means we're back to hard to replicate dongles. Clearly the USB stick is of little use otherwise singe the movie takes up the bulk of the space on it (unless it's compressed down to crap quality), you can't plug it into your DVD player or television, and you need to take another one for each additional movie. Do you really want to go on a trip with 20 dongles just so that you can watch 20
  • Physical media? Pff, what century is this?
  • While it's fine for a small-physical-format solid-state distribution medium, it's just too costly compared to (piracy aside) a DVD copy at $5-10. If the device's price were reduced for such content, fine ... but since a common 2GB thumbdrive is about $10, by what sanity is paying a >$20 premium to have just one movie thereon (and occupying significant space) reasonable?

    Thing is, you get a thumbdrive to haul data around in ... and do you really want to be constantly hauling the same single movie around wi

  • by pcolaman ( 1208838 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:14PM (#24862471)
    How long before the DRM is cracked? I'll be generous and give it a month, tops.
  • so customers can download the movie onto their laptop or PC if they wish,

    But a laptop is a PC...

    I don't see the point in this. It seems that simply shifting between media is not the way to go: film downloads are the future. Be they rentals or outright purchases, movie downloads are going to kill the physically-sold film. (With devices like home entertainment computers and Apple TVs, it's just a matter of time.)

  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by YourExperiment ( 1081089 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:28PM (#24862717)
    OMG PNY!!!
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:52PM (#24863109) Homepage

    ...required me to keep possession of a USB-key-sized physical object in order to maintain access to it, then I calculate that I would need to keep about two thousand pounds of USB keys, which would be enough to fill approximately twenty desk drawers.

    I guess it's not impossible on the face of it.

    I could store them in shallow drawers, vertically, alphabetical order, with little P-touch labels on the end of each one.

  • Little Brother (Score:5, Informative)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:55PM (#24863185) Journal

    This is insanity. I can download a copy of that stupid movie without Dumb Restrictions on Media from TPB, or I can just watch the tape I already paid for over ten years ago. Now, I'd buy the key with the movie pre-loaded, but to pay good money for crippleware when I can get a perfectly useable copy for free is just brain-dead stupid.

    DRM doesn't affact copyright infringers whatsoever. It only inconvieniences paying customers. The only rational explanation for the MAFIAA's insanity is drugs - cocaine. It must be all the coke they're snorting/smoking/shooting that makes them behave like a bunch of thieving, distrusting, irrational crack whores.

    I just started reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother [] (HTML version linked; there are other formats here []), and its preface has something to say about the insanity that is DRM (I've abbreviated it a bit):

    I recently saw Neil Gaiman give a talk at which someone asked him how he felt about piracy of his books. He said, "Hands up in the audience if you discovered your favorite writer for free -- because someone loaned you a copy, or because someone gave it to you? Now, hands up if you found your favorite writer by walking into a store and plunking down cash." Overwhelmingly, the audience said that they'd discovered their favorite writers for free, on a loan or as a gift. When it comes to my favorite writers, there's no boundaries: I'll buy every book they publish, just to own it (sometimes I buy two or three, to give away to friends who must read those books). I pay to see them live. I buy t-shirts with their book-covers on them. I'm a customer for life.

    People who study the habits of music-buyers have discovered something curious: the biggest pirates are also the biggest spenders. If you pirate music all night long, chances are you're one of the few people left who also goes to the record store (remember those?) during the day. You probably go to concerts on the weekend, and you probably check music out of the library too. If you're a member of the red-hot music-fan tribe, you do lots of everything that has to do with music, from singing in the shower to paying for black-market vinyl bootlegs of rare Eastern European covers of your favorite death-metal band.

    Same with books. I've worked in new bookstores, used bookstores and libraries. I've hung out in pirate ebook ("bookwarez") places online. I'm a stone used bookstore junkie, and I go to book fairs for fun. And you know what? It's the same people at all those places: book fans who do lots of everything that has to do with books.

    If I could loan out my physical books without giving up possession of them, I would. The fact that I can do so with digital files is not a bug, it's a feature, and a damned fine one. It's embarrassing to see all these writers and musicians and artists bemoaning the fact that art just got this wicked new feature: the ability to be shared without losing access to it in the first place. It's like watching restaurant owners crying down their shirts about the new free lunch machine that's feeding the world's starving people because it'll force them to reconsider their business-models. Yes, that's gonna be tricky, but let's not lose sight of the main attraction: free lunches!

    Universal access to human knowledge is in our grasp, for the first time in the history of the world. This is not a bad thing.

    For me -- for pretty much every writer -- the big problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity (thanks to Tim O'Reilly for this great aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today, the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free copy. Mega-hit best-sellers in science fiction sell half a million copies -- in a world where 175,000 attend the San Diego Comic Con alone, you've got to figure that most of the people who "like science fiction" (and related geeky stuff li

  • by Kleen13 ( 1006327 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @03:42PM (#24863959)
    The want they hardware keys back!

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry