Now Books Can Have Copy Protection Too

from the just-what-we-need dept

While the publishing industry has always had an uneasy relationship with the photocopier, they’ve pretty much accepted the fact that you simply can’t copy protect printed materials. That may be changing. Ricoh has announced that they’ve created a copier that will block the copying of confidential documents. The way it works is that when the original documents are printed, they need to include special, barely visible dots, which can be understood by the copier as copy protection. But, only on that copier. How far do you think this idea is going to go? Here’s a copier that actually offers less functionality and requires people to do something extra when printing out documents, while making sure that the only copiers around are equipped with this special anti-copying technology. Otherwise, the person who tries to copy a document and can’t will simply walk down the hall (or down the street to a Kinko’s) and copy it somewhere else. This is like putting weak copy protection on a CD and then saying “well, the copy protection only works if you use these special CD players.”

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Comments on “Now Books Can Have Copy Protection Too”

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OldYeller says:

Yet another useless marketing gimmick

This one goes right in the same “Useless” bucket as the reusable printer paper erased by baking.

Even if every copier was replaced/upgraded to universally employ this feature, confidential docs can still be scanned, faxed, digitally photographed with a cameraphone, or just plain transcribed. What a waste of time…

Ed says:

Not so fast

What Ricoh is claiming is not clear from the minimal information in the article. All it says is that a dimly visible dot pattern is added to the background when a classified document is printed. It could be that specific Ricoh copiers detect this pattern and refuse to copy it, and that’s not very useful, as everyone has already pointed out. It could also be that this pattern is something that is mostly unnoticed by the human eye but is intended to interfere with most existing document scanners and copiers. Either case is not hard to defeat, assuming you’re allowed to carry the original to some other copier or scanner. That wouldn’t be so easy in a high-security building where every copier had this function and all briefcases going in and out were searched.

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