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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2005 @ 12:59pm

    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.

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