Could Watermarks Replace Copy Protection?

from the all-wet dept

Perhaps one positive repercussion of the Sony BMG rootkit fiasco will be the attention it calls to copy protection and DRM technologies, and push content providers to use better and more equitable solutions. David Berlind at ZDNet, who’s been on an anti-DRM crusade of late, wonders if watermarking is the answer. Marking files with an identifier instead of using pointless (or even malicious) copy protection would let people enjoy their media however they want, and providing a way for illegal sharing to be tracked and possibly punished. It does have some downsides, though, such as if files were shared accidentally, or stolen, then shared. But the real reason watermarking won’t go anywhere is simply because it would work so well for consumers. Copy protection is but one minor aspect of DRM, the main goal of which for record labels, movie studios and the like is control. Not only do they not want you to copy and share content, but they want to make sure you only play it back in ways they’ve tacitly approved (witness the TV industry reaction to TiVo’s latest announcement). Copy protection is a trojan horse for even more restrictive DRM; no matter how good a solution for consumers, watermarking is too fair, and ultimately too toothless, for Hollywood’s liking.

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Comments on “Could Watermarks Replace Copy Protection?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What about rentals?

Along with the stolen comment by Mike, what about movie rentals?

Rentals would also have these watermarks so how would they track which renter ripped the movies and put them online for downloading?

Just another obstacle for pirates to work around. Nothing will ever stop this 100% while keeping the true consumers happy.

The Other Mike says:

No Subject Given

Ok so I have witnessed this battle over entertainment for a long time now. I just have one nagging question at the moment: what is so bad about letting Hollywood have their way with their movies and music?

I mean if they manage to get total control over their music and movies then people will stop buying them because they screw up computers and all sorts of other electronics right? So they shoot themselves int he foot while forward thinking artists use another medium or business model to reach the peopel who will buy the unrestricted stuff. Simple solution to a complex problem if you ask me. Tell them to take their dodgeball and go home and we will do the same. What am I missing here?

The Other Mike says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

So we are fighting this big battle with the record labels and movie studios because they are in talks about how (and have tried) to limit piracy by using hardware and/or the operating system? Or they may make us really annoyed anytime we put an RIAA certified CD into our computer?

Forgive me if I am being dense here. It’s not intentional, I just plain don’t get why the big fight.

The Other Mike says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

That’s kind of my point. It’s not like there aren’t choices for operating systems (even beyond the 8 million varieties of Linux) and it’s not like one or many of them won’t cater to the disenchanted Windows users who want to listen to music in peace. (And lets be honest – we all know MS could use some real competition in this area, whether you are a MS fan or not). That leaves only hardware makers. There are more than a few who make parts so it’s not like there isn’t going to be choice there too.

Maybe I am perma-stuck on “don’t get it” on this issue.

Josh Tomaino (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

One more reason I admire Green Day, is that to help promote the purchase of thier CD’s in the light of their largely downloaded music, is that they released “collectable” cd’s of their music in unique art covers. Yeah, so you could scan a photo on your computer right? Sure doesn’t beat a sporty Green Day CD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

thanks for the greenday comment. but honestly, I would much rather just listen to the music I purchased – the cover art will do nothing for me, except sit on the shelf BETWEEN several other purchased CDs. Cover art is nice for those who enjoy gazing at such things – but when Im out and about doing things while listening to music, the cover art is the last thing on my mind. thank you

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