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
    The Other Mike, 30 Nov 2005 @ 1:06pm

    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?

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