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Using Watermarks to Combat Piracy

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the ears-just-need-better-training dept.

Music 406

TheEvilOverlord writes to tell us PC Advisor is reporting that researchers at the Fraunhofer Integrated Publication and Information Systems Institute have developed a new watermarking system to help track and combat piracy. From the article: "The system lets content providers, such as music studios, embed a watermark in their downloadable MP3 files. Watermark technology makes slight changes to data in sound and image files. For instance, the change could be a higher volume intensity in a tiny part of a song or a brighter colour in a minuscule part of a picture. Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change."

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406 comments

Human? (5, Insightful)

biocute (936687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710233)

Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change.

Who says anything about using human senses to detect the watermark? If these watermarks are embedded by machine, I'm sure it won't be long until Watermark Bob creates a "cleanser" program to detect anything unusual, and maybe even remove it.

Re:Human? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710261)

Its called re-encode it

Re:Human? (5, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710276)

I'm sure it won't be long until Watermark Bob creates a "cleanser" program to detect anything unusual, and maybe even remove it.

Good point. All you'd really need is two or more copies of a given file, each with their own watermarks. Do a relatively straightfoward binary diff on the files and you'd quickly spot the watermarks. Normalize the diffs based on the similarities between the multiple file copies, and voila! Instant un-watermarked file.

Re:Human? (2, Interesting)

doxology (636469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710306)

Or raise the volume by 1 percent all over the board then normalize...that would probably pull it off.

Re:Human? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710279)

Most movies aren't being pirated in their original quality anyways. A 4gb movie file is usually ripped to 1gb so the odds are pretty good that this miniscule variation will get destroyed in the re encoding process.

Re:Human? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710340)

I doubt it. I believe the technology is such that the watermarks are designed to persist through lossy compression. Otherwise, what is the point?

Hey, btw, check out my new flash puzzle game: Traffic Jam [trafficjamgame.com]

Re:Human? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710428)

I know that the MPAA does that with prereleases, and wants to do that with all movies in the theatre. It'll not work well in mass production (mass produced CDs and DVDs are made in a press, not burned; it's faster and they last much, much longer), but on-demand things like downloads should deal with it fine. And of course reencoding on the fly is a nothing task. I stream music from my home PC, and since ices only takes either an ogg or mp3 stream (not both), plus given that I merge in the microphone stream and have to deal with mplayer quirks, I have to deal with several streams, recombine, and reencode. All you need to do it are fifos; it's transparent to your players/encoders/filters.

That's not to say that given how easy it would be to add in a watermark and how good current watermarking tech is, that it couldn't be defeated. Quite to the contrary, once you figure out what it's doing, it should be very simple to defeat it. Until that point, however, you have security through obscurity. I'd bet that a given scheme would last perhaps six months on average.

Re:Human? (4, Informative)

dustmite (667870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710487)

That's a valid intput, but steganographers thought of that years ago already. Decent steganographic techniques include low-frequency information that can make them quite resilient to a fair deal of subsampling, recompressing, re-encoding and so on. The idea is not to make a "miniscule variation" but a very subtle variation over a large area. You can think of it like, the actual information is in the 'high bits' not the 'low bits'. Info in the 'low bits' is easily destroyed.

Re:Human? (1)

germanStefan (766513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710372)

Or if not that, what about re-encoding it to ogg or some other format. Wouldn't that get rid of the hash or change the volume slightly?

Re:Human? (1)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710432)

But there's nothing "unusual" about one 2 second shot being 10% brighter or 5 frames shorter than their baseline version. There's nothing to "detect", unless you have the original to compare it to.

Re:Human? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710455)

Or adding a watermark. I can see much more usage for adding one than removing it. For example..

"No your honor, I didn't commit intelluctual property theft, all my mp3s have the proper studio watermark!"

Re:Human? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710485)

It would be easy as pie. Just write a program that randomizes the least significant bit of each sound sample (which is 99.9% likely where it stores the watermark) and the watermark is now obliterated. The remaining 00.1% is if they choose to use two or more least significant bits, but that is less likely because the more you use the more static you introduce and it'll become more noticable.

Re:Human? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710562)

Wait- so you are saying that you can find your undies because you leave a unique skidmark in them? That isn't very cute, biocute. In fact, it is quite nasty!!!
Pfft
___________
/ rip /\/\asterBater /\/\onkey

My thoughts exactly (1)

takeya (825259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710565)

It would be so easy to get 2 copies of the song, look at how each is different, there would be a volume jump at 1 point, different in each. Just edit it out.

For an image, again, just compare the two, and you will find the difference, the watermark. Edit it out.

Um, what? (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710245)

The system lets content providers, such as music studios, embed a watermark in their downloadable MP3 files

For whom was this intended again?

I'd be happy if there actually was plenty of music studios providing downloadable mp3's though.

Re:Um, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710534)

This has already been covered on Slashdot, it was done by another US-based company... almost two years ago:

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/13/183324 5 [slashdot.org]

From the website:

So what is going to stop me from putting all the files up on another P2P network?

We digitally watermark each file you buy from Bitmunk with your receipt of sale. This lets you prove that you own that file - it also means that if somebody else were to get ahold of that file, and put it on a P2P network - it would be tracked back to you. So, only share your files with people that you trust - if you start distributing your files for free on another network, the artist that created that file might come after you. Be smart with the files you buy, you can re-distribute them on Bitmunk and make money doing it - so why would you go to another P2P network that doesn't pay you for re-distributing files?

Shared Account (-1, Offtopic)

Communal Account (954236) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710246)

In the spirit of F/OSS, and as an experiment in piracy, tolerance, and free use, I am presenting the Communal Account. You may use this user and password as much as you want, maintain some anonymity, and at the same time contribute without being tagged "coward". As with the GPL, however, free use comes with some responsibility, and that is, let the "open" password remain just as it is -- open.

Will it last an hour? A day? Months? Who knows.

But it will be interesting...

Have fun.

Re:Shared Account (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710291)

How about two minutes. If Slashdot wasn't full of socially stunted adult children, this may have a chance of success.

Re:Shared Account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710325)

Worked for me just now... ?

Re:Shared Account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710347)

Dude, I hacked your account. Consider yourself iwned.
-CL

Re:Shared Account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710414)

I don't think you did. If you changed his/her password, it will just be resent to his email address, and he can update the comments. Also, if you change his/her email account, he can just re-set that too.

I think it was you, sir, who were pwn3d.

Re:Shared Account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710526)

*whoosh*
-CL

testifying *worthy* originals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710247)

through md5, sha1 hashes. nevermind the collisions though ;)

This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710255)

This is great, because.. oh, wait, I don't and never will buy DRMed music.

Never mind.

Stand up to Encoding? (1)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710259)

How well will this stand up to a lower bitrate/encoding setting?

If it is in the actual data (2, Informative)

Cybert14 (952427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710295)

It should go through. Coders in general are not required to be deterministic, so some pattern recognition would have to go into identifying the watermark.

Re:Stand up to Encoding? (3, Funny)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710313)

"How well will this stand up to a lower bitrate/encoding setting?"

About as well as my ears do, I'm guessing.

Re:Stand up to Encoding? (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710399)

What if you were to just re-encode it or go from mp3->ogg->mp3 again ?

I would think that would scrub any watermarks from the mp3.

Re:Stand up to Encoding? (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710473)

What if you were to just re-encode it or go from mp3->ogg->mp3 again ?

I would think that would scrub any watermarks from the mp3.

It would also suck plenty of quality from your file...

Re:Stand up to Encoding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710486)

What if you were to just re-encode it or go from mp3->ogg->mp3 again ? I would think that would scrub any watermarks from the mp3.

Along with any of that annoying audio fiedelity.

(Oh, I get it, your post was meant to be funny.)

Re:Stand up to Encoding? (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710539)

How well will this stand up to a lower bitrate/encoding setting?

You mean before it's called noise??

Defeating? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710268)

...and in order to defeat such a wonderful scheme, all you have to do is re-watermark the image/music/video.

I've yet to see a scheme that reliably survived that test unless it was specifically designed just for that test (like embedding high power signal in several random places), and upon detection, looking for that signal in those random places (hope is that 2nd watermarking didn't wipe out -some- signal data).

In any case, Watermarking doesn't work! Even Microsoft's researchers said so (damn, can't find link).

Undectable? (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710269)

Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change.

Maybe not, but I bet outguess [outguess.org] can, along with a million other stego tools.

Pirate content will not be watermarked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710274)

And it will include checksums to ensure that one hasn't been applied along the way.

And this fights piracy how? (2, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710283)

OK, so you tag downloads. Now what?

Assuming a "de-tag" program doesn't pop up an hour later, what do you do with this wonderful invention? Instead of passing around a "normal" mp3 of Metallica, they're now sharing a "watermarked" version that allegedly can't be discerned by mere humans. How does this help?

Cheers,

Re:And this fights piracy how? (4, Interesting)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710343)

OK, so you tag downloads. Now what?

In theory it lets the distributor figure out who the source of the piracy was. Joe User logs into their site and downloads the latest hit DRM_SUX.mpeg. Unknown to him it has a unique watermark in it that identifies him as the one who downloaded this particular file. Six months later the Copyright Kops find a copy of DRM_SUX.mpeg floating around on P2P networks. They analyze the file and discover the watermark points to Joe User, so they then sick their landsharks^M^M^M^M lawyers on him.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710394)

But how do they prove that you put the file up on the P2P networks? Maybe your computer was broken into, either by network or physically, and the file was copied off and put on the P2P network. Maybe you sent it to your friend (fair use) and he uploaded it to the P2P network.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710522)

I have always wondered why can't everyone being sued by MPAA/RIAA just install a bunch of trajons on their machine and then claim that someone was using their computer to dowload music or wanted to frame them. Because it isn't that difficult to remotely control a computer. And unless the RIAA/MPAA has a video recording of the user searching the P2P at their keyboard, then clicking the "download" button and stuff like that it could have been anyone out there. Or is it a liability type thing -- "your computer was used, so it doesn't matter who used it, you pay either way" ?

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

dustmite (667870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710439)

Hmm ... interesting, a good portion of my mp3 collection consists of files copied from people without their knowledge (e.g. open shares found at LANs or at work). Not to mention Joe User's box getting hacked and the files getting copied without his knowledge. They might be able to prove whose file it was but can they really prove piracy unless they find (and identify) Joe User himself personally sharing that file on a p2p network?

Re:And this fights piracy how? (2, Funny)

Sathias (884801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710354)

Instead of passing around a "normal" mp3 of Metallica, they're now sharing a "watermarked" version that allegedly can't be discerned by mere humans. How does this help?

Well, at least Lars would know who to sue.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (4, Informative)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710363)

Assuming a "de-tag" program doesn't pop up an hour later, what do you do with this wonderful invention? Instead of passing around a "normal" mp3 of Metallica, they're now sharing a "watermarked" version that allegedly can't be discerned by mere humans. How does this help?

You code media players to detect the watermark (which would have to be in a standardized format) and refuse to play anything that does not contain the watermark. Conversely, ripping programs will not rip anything containing the watermark, making it harder to copy the source. You wouldn't have to worry so much about removal programs, as programs that would "fake" the watermark, basically couterfeiting programs. Of course, those would pop up fifteen minutes later.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

Slipgrid (938571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710405)

OK, so you tag downloads. Now what?

When they see it on p2p networks, they will read the watermark, and trace it to a customer, so they can sue them for the cost of the song times one quadrillion.

How does this help?

Well, it doesn't. It only gives customers another reason to *not* buy the song.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710415)

The RIAA downloads a watermarked MP3 and finds out where it came from. The guy who ripped the MP3 in the first place is now in trouble.

Re:And this fights piracy how? (1)

sedyn (880034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710421)

Well, aren't some media files released on the internet before they can be attained/viewed through normal distribution methods? And FTA a purchased song makes it onto the free networks...

So if the file does get out, then at least it should be easier to trace the source of the leak... Assuming this works...

Then again, I wouldn't put it past the MPAA (the same technique can be applied to movies) or RIAA to go after the initial poster for total "damages" (in other words, blame the original uploader for all copies).

Spread fear amongst the people... Standard *AA operating procedure...

Re:And this fights piracy how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710450)

Well it's certainly no better (at stopping priacy) than the DRM solutions currently in use, and it's infinitely more preferable to me. It means I can transfer files I've paid for to any/all of my hardware devices without having to worry about any crappy DRM preventing me from legally using my media.

psychoacoustic codecs? (2, Interesting)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710289)

if the watermarks are imperceptible to humans, than what's to say that the matrices used by audio and video codecs won't remove them from the source because they're undetectible?

Trace it back to me? How? (2, Insightful)

rmsmith (930507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710309)

"If, for instance, you purchase and download a CD, burn a copy and give it to a friend and that person puts it on a filesharing network, our system will trace that music back to you and, depending on the legal system of the country you're in, you could be [hit] with an expensive fine," Kip said.

How, exactly? Supposing I went out and purchased a music CD (a radical idea, I know) with cash, how could they possibly trace that particular CD back to me should it somehow be made widely available to download? I mean, I wouldn't have provided any personal information to the store during the purchase so ... what gives?

Re:Trace it back to me? How? (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710349)

I guess it's about "watermark in their downloadable MP3 files" as stated in the summary above, not physical CDs which will cost a lot more (and enough to cover any piracy).

Re:Trace it back to me? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710370)

How does this work if you sell a CD second hand?
I.e. you still have the files on your computer, then you sell the CD, someone else purchases it, and decides to share the files via P2P? Will it be automatically traced back to you?

Re:Trace it back to me? How? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710446)

Kip is talkin absolute crap, firstly as you said you do not give a shop your details when you buy a cd. Also watermarking cd's would lead to HUGE increases in manufacturing costs even if you only change the watermark on each batch or for each country the cd is sold in. This system only makes sense for downloads, itunes (or whatever) could put a watermark on your copy of the file before sending it to you then it could be identified as your copy if it turns up on any peer to peer networks but even this requires extra processing power making it more expensive.

Watermark Bob has options (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710310)

Seems like an easily defeatable mechanism. To track you must be able to extract the creator's watermark from the customer files. If the customer has done further modification to the file, it could obliterate the ability to detect the original watermark. Watermark Bob needs to simply add his own slight data modifications to accomplish that goal. In fact, wouldn't that make his version of the song unique and not a copy? Would the creator's version, plus watermark, not be considered a copy? It's modified, however slightly, so which version is then copyrighted? The one with or without a watermark? Or both?

Nothing to see/hear (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710315)

> The system lets content providers, such as music studios, embed a watermark in their downloadable MP3 files. [ ... ] Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change.

In other words, "Nothing to see/hear. Please move along?"

More seriously - although it could be stripped out (relatively) easily, you could embed watermarking data in the metadata segments of downloadable MP3s. I'd accept this as a tradeoff for music studios offering downloadable MP3 files: If some_hit_song_i_downloaded.mp3 shows up on a P2P network and contains metadata whose MD5 could only be generated by, say, hashing my credit card number with some_riaa_private_key, that'd be pretty reasonable grounds for RIAA to believe that I'm the schmuck who (a) paid for the right to download it from a RIAA-authorized source, and (b) uploaded it to a non-RIAA-authorized filesharing network.

Make it impractical for Joe Sixpack (who will be unaware of this type of watermarking, and who probably will be unaware of the existence of tools to strip it) to upload his files without risking fines/prosecution, and you can offer DRM-free MP3s to Joe Sixpack.

Re:Nothing to see/hear (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710444)

Even better, making it possible to bill Joe Sixpack's credit card for every copy of the song he bought and shared out to the Internet that is found in the wild. Then legal proceedings wouldn't even be needed. You could just put in the fine print that you're authorized to share copies of the file as long as you agree to pay for each copy you share out. That'd be... dowright evil. I expect it'll show up in the first version of the business model.

WTF? (1)

The Real Nem (793299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710317)

By embedding a watermark in a .mp3 file and making it available on P2P networks, aren't record companies implicitly giving you permission to download their music?

The practical use (2, Informative)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710326)

This is already somewhat in use.

band releases early copies of an album to reviewers. if the album leaks, the people who sent out the advances can find out who leaked it.

Pointless (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710331)

Ok, you embed a user-id into each file downloaded and look for it on p2p networks? But giving the number of insecure home PCs, the files out there will propably be stolen from people who bought them legally online and then shared everywhere.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710452)

It's not pointless -- now the user can be sued for M$ security blunders, phishing and other things. It's not to keep things secure it's to create a new revenue stream.

Re:Pointless (1)

SJS (1851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710504)

It's an ill wind that blows no good.

If this will result in someone's lawyers contacting all the people running insecure home PCs and giving 'em a short scare, I'm all for it. The first time, hopefully, should be a quick excuse to the judge: "My PC was compromised without my knowledge. I'm not at fault." -- but the _second_ time, well, the sharks get to have fun.

There's a potential for this to improve the 'Net. Having the copyright holders identify compromised machines? It's pratically a public service.

That's what they said last time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710337)

Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change.

That's what they said with the last corporate watermarking scheme.

And then it turned out (1) yes, even relatively untrained ears could hear the difference and (2) it was possible to destroy the watermark just by detuning the song by a human-inaudible amount.

Considering that the goal of "you own it but it's still ours" technology like watermarks and DRM is never to work, but always only to provide a false sense of security to IP holders, I don't expect that we'll get much better results even with a competent group like Fraunhofer working on it.

Another worthless watermark for image file (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710348)

All one has to defeat those watermark is run through photoshop
sharpening or gaussian or one of many Photoshop filter.

What about silent movies? (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710357)

There are some real classics out there, you know like those Charlie Chaplin films. How do they convert this technology towards downloaded movies, especially silent ones. Will they change the narrative text between scenes or something? If not can this be seen as a workout which can be used in more modern films because they are more "recent". Jaws isn't as good without the sound!

Transfer of blame. (1)

headbulb (534102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710358)

While this may be a good idea in concept. When something does leak, who is to blame? The person who leaked the song? what if the person has no knowledge that his copy of the media was leaked?

1. User downloads media
2. Media gets watermark for user
3. User gets infected into a botnet
4. media gets leaked

So the person that media was attached to gets the blame, instead of the people that really leaked it.
After the person gets the blame they are going to get screwed even if it isn't there fault.

While this may not seem to be practical I could see it as a possibilty. I thought it was an interesting possibility.

Digital watermarks have one practical use only (1)

RoboSpork (953532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710365)

The only thing a digital watermark could be useful for is authenticating a media file as an unaltered official release. It will never be useful for combating privacy except for only the dumbest users who do not cleanse the media files. Cleansing image files is trivial assumming you have access to free hardware/software (I guess thats the kicker). Cleansing music files is not much harder, and one can always simply re-record the music too, thats one avenue of DRM circumvention that will NEVER go away.

That's the spirit (4, Insightful)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710369)

I'm hoping these kinds of anti-piracy actions work, and work well.

Things like the DRM and DMCA were put into place to fight piracy, and wound up just hurting regular consumers while the pirates just snickered as they continued along their merry way.

With these kinds of things, regular users will still be able to do what they like with their own copy, be it back it up or transfer it to another medium for personal use. At the same time, it will allow those tracking piracy to find the source and press charges only against that person, and not the random multitude.

I'm sure the pirates will figure out some way to work around this (be it to randomly change the volume slightly throughout an entire MP3, or brightening/dithering an entire picture), as they have everything else, but if this kind of technology can prevail and advance, it will allow those of us legally using our own purchased goods to do so without worry, while punishing those who deserve it.

Re:That's the spirit (2, Insightful)

mr_burns (13129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710537)

I'm pretty certain that they'll watermark the plaintext, then wrap that up in DRM. They aren't going to sell us non-DRM files just because they've got a watermark.

i hate to say it (2, Interesting)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710376)

I hate to be the guy to come out and say it, but I don't really mind DRM as long as it doesn't interfere with my user experience. I paid for my songs on iTunes, and I've rarely encountered any DRM restrictions that affected me. I wish I could just give them all to friends who wanted them, but let's face it, that's pushing the limits of fair use. And if I do want to share it, there are easy workarounds.

This goes for downloaded files, not physical media. If I buy a CD, I want to be able to do whatever I want to it, which includes sharing with friends. I've never made a habit out of sharing files, even back in the Napster days (Sorry, but I was a leech). Most of my file sharing is between me and my friends, and while I admit that it certainly pushes the limits of legality, it's the only "responsible" way to do things.

This watermarking idea just reeks of being absolutely unnecessary. People just need to learn to be more "responsible" about how they rip off music. I hate the record labels as much as the next guy, but I'm willing to work within the confines of a happy medium, and do most of my sharing via less (or is it more?) traditional means.

I don't see anything wrong with sharing TV shows that are freely broadcast over the airwaves, however. For most things, however, if you don't own the copyright, it's usually not yours to distribute.

What's my point? I really don't know. Try this: Steal all you want, just don't get caught, and don't let them force more of these silly things on all of us.

Re:i hate to say it (1)

Tankko (911999) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710465)

>>I could just give them all to friends who wanted them, but let's face it, that's pushing the limits of fair use

Dude, that is not "pushing the limits", that is out-and-out breaking them. Fair-use does NOT give you the right to give copies to your friends. Period.

Simple way around it... (1)

payndz (589033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710379)

Guess I'll be keeping all my old ripping software that doesn't include watermarking technology, then!

I'd like to see... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710388)

Call of Duty put in there as well. A lot of the battles are mostly or at least partly on real life history, and it would be an educational experience about the hell of war and price paid to secure freedoms. I remember for one of my history classes we had to watch Glory [teachwithmovies.org] , a movie about african americans in the Civil War. It was quite an experience, and think this sort of medium can be an instructive teaching tool.

Wrong Tabq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710449)

You wanted the video game thread.

medialoggers replace keyloggers as top malware (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710389)

If **AA prosecutes the original buyer of illegally distributed watermarked copies, then pirate distributors will create malware to steal originals from unsuspecting copy owners. Computer owners that don't secure their machines will find that someone has surreptitiously copied their media files, sold or traded them on the open market and made the owner of the infected machine liable for criminal act.

Key question (3, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710392)

However, the question is how this gets applied.

Are they planning to

  • ship millions of identical watermarked files, then expect hardware to refuse to play any that files that aren't licensed (same old business model, someone else's problem.)
  • Mark each file to identify the purchaser, then go after the source of widespread copyright violation?

The first is basically worse than DRM, the second is essentially an aid to enforcing existing copyright laws. I suspect that if the Content Cartel would finally accept that their business models need to change and go for the second approach, most of us could accept it.

So it's steganographic then... (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710426)

So, the watermarking process is steganographic, then. If you diddle the least significant bits, you don't introduce human-noticeable distortion.

It's a bit like those secret government documents who have several purposely-placed typoes, different for each distributed copies, with which you can deduce who leaked the document according to the typoes that surface in the unauthorized copies...

So, what can prevent anyone from shaving-off the least significant bits and putting garbage instead? This way, you cannot tell who "pirated" the stuff...

In other words.. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710443)

..they're doing something that won't affect anyone other than the technologically inept pirates, who are already their easiest targets for prosecution. The resulting rise in lawsuit numbers and word of this scary techno-voodoo might put more newbies off using the fileshares, or it might get them to learn to use whatever unwatermarking tools pop up.

Watermark Rootkit? (1)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710447)

Could something like this be used to gain privileged access? While I realize that it is in effect making different content, could a bug in the watermark application potentially create content so different that it would crash a media application?

At the least, a bug in the watermark application could cause degradation of the media. In a worse case scenario, it could cause media players to crash.

From another point of view, targeting MP3 files seems a bit odd and targeting DRM'd files would be useless. This technology appears to be out of date before it is used.

Mm hmm. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710459)

"Using Watermarks to Combat Piracy"

I saw an episode of Frasier once where the brothers decided they wanted to open a restaraunt that catered only to special clientelle. "We won't put up a sign." "Yeah! And we'll get an unlisted phone number!" "Yeah!!" And Marty jumps in and says "Why stop there? I can get a buddy of mine to sit on the roof with a rifle and pick'em off as they come in!"

Every time I hear the phrase "...to combat piracy" I remember this line.

Doesn't make sense. Its too easy to kill off (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710461)

Regardless of what humans can or can't see in it, there will be byte for byte differences and patterns to those differences. If there weren't, the watermarking couldn't be spotted in the files later found to be pirated.

At the very worst, a simple matter of re-encoding the file in memory from digital to analog and back would insert enough variation due to nothing more than the variance introduced by floating point math to make the process easily circumvented.

Aren't people transcoding iTunes stuff now by just letting it play and re-recording it? If done in memory, I don't know how lossy that is, but I'm sure its going to produce "good enough" sound for most people, no? Those who care enough to claim they can tell the difference are not the ones pirating music anyway, AFAIK.

The plastic distribution industry (formerly known as the record industry) is spending stupid amounts of capitol to preserve a business model that rewards the distributor of the plastic on which content resides over the artist who made it or the consumer who bought it. Ultimately, that model will fail simply because it no longer makes economic sense.

and how does this stop piracy? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710496)

How does it actually pevent people from copying the files.... Cant this file be uploaded....Oh wait they will know who's file it is...except I live in a country using a credit card where that isnt crime...Woops better luck next time.

Two Unique Versions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14710500)

Two unique versions defeats this easily.

Mix the two and you get a clean version with no loss in quality.

Cost Effective? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710509)

Even the best-trained human eyes and ears, according to Kip, can't detect the change.

But a pretty dumb file compare program will have no problem. Compare two versions of the file to see where the changes are. Compare them to a third version to assess how different each watermark is. Then fiddle bits to create your own version that they cannot no longer trace back to you.

It will cost more to deploy the embedding software and panoply of infringement detectors than defeating this mechanism, which leads me to wonder about its cost effectiveness. It will only catch the dumb crooks, and not likely even scare the smart ones.

Reminds me of how multi-thousand dollar traffic enforcement cameras are defeated by a low tech can of spray paint.

I think its a great idea... (0)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710518)

Ok...so I'm not exactly sure how they are going to get their watermarks onto mp3s that were ripped from CD, since most of the downloadable music already has DRM in it. I'm not entirely sure how they are going to connect that CD to a person, assuming they can get the watermarks to work like that. I'm also not entirely sure how they are going to track unique watermarks for every song/artist out there. But as long as they want to throw their money at something like this, and continue to pass on the savings to the consumer, I think its a great idea...

Don't buy those MP3's if your smart (1)

J0nne (924579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710527)

Not only because that would be supporting DRM peddling assholes, but you have to be even more careful with these files than with DRM'ed files. You are now liable AND tracable if an mp3 you bought somehow gets shared online. It doesn't take a whole lot for that to happen.

Maybe you happened to leave a windows(Linux/BSD/Mac) share open on a hostile (college/company) LAN? Maybe you lost your iPod with those tunes you bought, and somebody else is happily sharing "your" MP3's on p2p networks? Maybe the PC repairman decides that he'd like a few of your mp3's for personal use when you brought your pc in (it's not like *he* could get in trouble, there's no way to trace it back to him)?

You have to keep an eye on your files, and your system constantly to make sure none of your mp3's gets away, or otherwise you can expect a huge fine in your mail when you least expect it. Buying those MP3's is even more risky than just downloading and sharing them online like many do now.

Short memories -- this was called SDMI (5, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710529)

This was rolled out years ago, and plotzed with a mighty thud when it happened, due in no small part to the http://www.cs.princeton.edu/sip/sdmi/faq.html [slashdot.org] ">wor k of Felten and his grad students at Princeton.

Basically, the Powers That Be came up with a very good watermarking system, but even the best system can be defeated by a very determined adversary -- especially since the watermarks can't be updated once the CDs are shipped.

Another problem that I've always had with these systems is the proof issue. If the RIAA tries to prosecute you for having watermarked files, they have to demonstrate the watermark. I can't imagine how they could show that without revealing exactly how the watermark is detected -- and once they do that, you should be off to the races.

Anyway -- this has been tried, and it has failed. The SDMI system was really quite sophisticated, and it failed almost immediately.

Thad Beier

Who will this impact? (2)

Syrrh (700452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710538)

It's a nice thought, but I'm still not buying music online because it doesn't give a significant incentive. The cost of a full album is nearly identical to a real CD, and for that you get regular 128-bitrate encoded files. I'd rather pay a little more and get the full-quality, which I can then re-rip according to whether it's going on a portable or another CD afterward. I'd be more skeptical about data management than the shortcomings of the actual watermark. Will unlimited-music providers like Rhapsody generate a watermark for each file streamed? That'd be an insane amount of data to collect and track, and it'll only make a difference if my particular rip becomes one of Kazaa's top 100-most-common to matter.

Subtlety is subjective (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710543)

They said no one would notice the brown dots they add to movies to combat camming either, but I see them in theaters all the time without really trying.

Strange... (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14710568)

I thought most of the content on the internet was ripped from CDs (which they can't watermark--or at least it would be a real bitch to trace it back to a given purchaser).

on top of that, they seem to be intent to charge as much to download a song as to buy a CD, sometimes more.

So how does this do anything at all?

Now, for p0rn it's another story altogether.

This whole data protection is crap anyway! Just deal with the fact that you are competing with piracy and approach it that way. Tighten your belts a little and charge $0.75 cents a song. Charge $5 for a movie and don't even bother with anything more than trivial copy protection.

Most people would be honest if given a REASONABLE choice, and if you can't afford the $0.75--well the record company has no business making money off your broke ass anyway!

One place where watermarks might be interesting--If all the songs I'd leagally purchased were "marked" with my personal code, I could scan through them and see which ones weren't mine, then I could pay for them in bulk, converting them to marked files yet retaining the flexible MP3 format.

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