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A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the chip-the-children dept.

Security 435

Dieppe writes "A simple chip added to a DVD disk could prevent retail theft. According to the AP article at MSNBC, the chip would be activated at the register to make a previously dark area of the DVD clear, and therefore readable. Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate $400 million dollars in losses from brick and mortar stores? Game console DVDs could also be protected this way too. Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?"

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"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062011)

It's not theft! It's copyright infring... oh wait.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (2, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062133)

Indeed, that was my first thought. I'm glad to see that they are doing something positive for a change. And yes, it should lower the markup on the DVD's because they don't need to recoup their (real world physical) losses due to theft. I just hope that they haven't added something sneaky in there too.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (5, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062325)

This "protection mechanism" will be broken, just like every other one has been. If it only need to be activated, professional criminals will have access to the tools necessary to activate the DVD player. It will be useless and only aggravate the life of the consumer, so it will come and go just like other protection systems.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062481)

This "protection mechanism" will be broken, just like every other one has been.

I think you're confusing inventory control (which is what this is) with copyright infringement.

Assuming that this works as described, this is a good thing. Markup from stolen discs is a real cost factor, not to mention the markup from excessive packaging that is the only real deterent we have now.

However, I just don't think they'll be able to resist the opportunity to add some sort of anti-copying tech in there, if only to tie in "copying" with actual "stealing."

In which case, you have no confusion, and yes, it will be broken. Extra irony points will be awarded for to the extra costs associated with this technology.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (5, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062553)

I wasn't confused. The mechanisms are strikingly similar, though. The chip is activated at the register and the DVD is now readable. Professional thieves will have access to the method of activation because that's what they do. Thieves have tools related to their trade. Steal a set of DVDs just like you always did, activate them, and sell them (or, more likely steal them and fence them to a man who has the tools). It will stop the theft of DVDs for only about 15 minutes, all the while introducing another level of complexity and failure into the legal purchase process.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (3, Insightful)

OECD (639690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062679)

(or, more likely steal them and fence them to a man who has the tools)

Hmm. You're probably right. This will likely only deter the most casual of thiefs, and annoy many more paying customers (who would then feel completely justified in D/Ling the CD.)

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (2)

charlieman (972526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062495)

Just steal one of the machines that activates this DVD's.

History Says: Prices will go Up. (5, Insightful)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062359)

it should lower the markup on the DVD's because they don't need to recoup their (real world physical) losses due to theft.

Isn't that what the record industry said when CD's came out?

"The price will come down."

Then, they changed it to, "Well, you're getting better quality. That's why CD's are so expensive."

Re:History Says: Prices will go Up. (2, Informative)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062757)

When CDs came out about two decades ago they were, what, $25-$30 at first? Now, after two decades of inflation, you can buy most of 'em at WalMart for $12-$16.

The price did come down. The price stayed down when the price of nearly everything else doubled or tripled.

Stop whinning.

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062555)

We technically don't own the DVDs (or so they say): We are leasing them (silly business people). Thus, stealing the hard copy should not be a crime, unless the one who stole it actually plays it. "I swear officer, I've been using it as a Frisbee all the time!"

Re:"A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft" (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062753)

actually, the CD/DVD itself is a tangible good/medium and the content is copywritten. So the theft of the medium would be a valid crime if played or not. One can ague the value of the Medium but it is theft.

Sharpie anyone? (4, Funny)

sam1am (753369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062023)

Sounds like a sharpie might be useful...

Re:Sharpie anyone? (3, Funny)

Starburnt (860851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062087)

Looks like they've learned form their mistakes, the discs are dark to begin with and work when the darkness is removed. So you'll need liquid paper.

Re:Sharpie anyone? (1)

slazzy (864185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062739)

careful, with that comment, now slashdot is going to get C&D'd with a DMCA takedown notice.

Re:Sharpie anyone? (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062537)

Probably not a sharpie... but a drill would do the trick.

LOL (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062025)

Could this help to bring down the prices????? You HAVE to be kidding. That really is funny.

Re:LOL (1)

JustinVanHorne (825036) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062085)

I believe the reason why they're saying this that there would be no need for compensating losses from warez'd movies, assuming that that they already do this.

I would think it would eventually switch, much like music. Non-DRM music is more expensive then DRM, right. Perhaps this is the route DVDs are going. If you want to make _backups_ of your personal DVDs, maybe it's going to cost more than non-copyable DVDs.

Atleast something to that effect.

"Could this help to bring down the prices" has to be a justified comment, I mean it's on the internet, duh

Re:LOL (5, Insightful)

Strilanc (1077197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062223)

A drop in the price isn't worth it. You know how every once in awhile someone walks out of the store and the alarm goes off because a cashier didn't deactivate a tag correctly? Imagine that happening, but you only find out after an hour-long drive home.

Re:LOL (0)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062461)

you mean when they look up to see who's set the alarm off while walking IN the store? and then they go back about their business...only to do the same when the same person sets the alarm off on their way out the door. i used to work at a music store, and people would set the thing off all the time coming in with packages from other stores, cell phones, who knows what. every time it happened, i thought that if one could deliberately set the thing off on the way in, you'd basically get a "it's ok, he set it off on the way in" nod through on the way out, while you're loaded with goods. we never checked, and the casheirs at stores now don't check. i set the alarm off--on the way in and on the way out--at a home depot store this weekend. got no looks either time, and the people by the exit were about 100 yards from the entrance, so they couldn't have known about my loud entry. all this while wearing a messenger bag loaded with stuff from other stores.

Re:LOL (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062317)

"Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate $400 million dollars in losses from brick and mortar stores?"

No.

Well... Unless they find a way to completely break XViD/DiVX.

Re:LOL (1)

alisson (1040324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062435)

What, other than DiVX sucking?

I know people that use real-player. Nothing will stop people that really don't want to pay :)

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062515)

Yeah, I mean DVD prices are already quite reasonable. At this point I have a general rule about not buying DVDs that cost more than $10, excluding tax or shipping. It's amazing how easy it is to live within that restriction so long as you keep your eyes open and aren't a sheeple who always needs the most recent releases.

Actually, my upper limit is 15 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062625)

I started buying DVDs in 96. Back then it was 10-13. Now, with stagflation starting to hit, we are looking at increases in oil (which forms the plastics), inflation slowly creeping up, and our economy slowing down.

Sorta cool (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062029)

As long as I can still back up my DVD's to my HDD and then view them off my own burned DVD's, I don't care what they do!

You try keeping your daughter from destroying those Disney DVD's that are only released once a few decades!

Re:Sorta cool (5, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062713)

Mine did.
When I contacted Disney about a replacement disk at cost (not retail) I was told "tough shit". When I pointed out that had they not used rip-guard and other countermeasures to me making a backup, and as such I expected them to make a good faith effort to replace my damaged disk, they said "tough shit, buy a new one". When I pointed out that the disk was over a year old and out of production, they said "tough shit, try e-bay". So I did and I found a really inexpensive (Chinese "overrun") authentic disk.
See if I buy Disney media anything ever again, it's off to TPB and netflix + anydvd + dvd decrypter.

Back onto the topic at hand, TFA mentions that this tech is applicable to other products as well, I wonder how soon till the regularly missed activation gets consumers pissed about coming back, and gets the customer service reps numb to the issue, such that freshly pilfered merchandise can be activated at the customer service desk rather than the register?

One of my mates worked at Office Depot. Someone stole a display computer, walked it over to the service desk, made up some bogus issue with the ($2000) PC, balked at the estimate, and carried "their" PC out the door, with the staff holding the door for them!
Same thing will happen with this tech.
-nB

No (2, Insightful)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062031)

It won't help, people will just find a way to do the activation themselves at home. Just like they have with all the electronic security measures. What's for damn sure is that even if it worked (it won't) it won't do anything to lower prices. They've already got us hooked like junkies at the prices they're charging and there's no way they'll lower them until demand drops off.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062075)

"It won't help, people will just find a way to do the activation themselves at home. Just like they have with all the electronic security measures."

A thwartable scheme doesn't mean that it's 100% useless. Consider how easy it is to prevent fingerprints from being left behind, yet they're captured all the time.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062161)

You fail to account for human stupidity and laziness. And shoplifters are plenty stupid IMO, very bad risk/payoff there, and too lazy to get a job. I'm pretty sure the chip requires some equipment to deactivate. Would you buy something so you can deactivate chips on the DVD's you stole?

Re:No (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062589)

The chip in question is an RFID chip that sends out an electrical pulse to cause a chemical changes that makes the DVDs clear. I'm pretty sure that this will turn out to be easy to defeat. The solution will probably involve a half second in a microwave or exposure to an alternating magnetic field or something along those lines.

Copy protection (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062049)

$10 bucks say they try to find a way to add copy protection into the chip as well.

Re:Copy protection (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062597)

$10 bucks say they try to find a way to add copy protection into the chip as well.

I see your $10 bucks and raise you 10m^2 square meters of shag carpet, 2L liters of orange juice, 5Kg kilograms of fine diamonds, and a 2N newton push in the direction of an English class.

Re:Copy protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062749)

see your $10 bucks and raise you 10m^2 square meters ... push in the direction of an English class.
I see your 10 square meters square meters with a push and a push in the direction of an anti-redundancy (say things only once) class and training session.

Hahahah (5, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062057)

"Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?"

No, but it could raise the profit margin.

Re:Hahahah (0, Interesting)

Murmer (96505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062199)

Yeah, if the fact that DVDs cost about fifty cents to mass-produce hasn't put a dent in their prices, I'm sure this will.

Believing that the price of something is in any way related to the cost of thing to the seller is deeply naive, a sure sign of a sucker.

Re:Hahahah (3, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062221)

Yeah, because, you know, it didn't cost them millions upon millions of dollars to create the film. The only cost was the cost of the media.

Re:Hahahah (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062287)

You know, I saw that little orange dot an immediately wanted to diagree with you, but you've got her bang on. Not all movies, even some cult movies, recoup their costs. It's a shame that studios have to deal with the same wierd salary inflation that entertainment mediums in general have to deal with(Really, is spending a quarter of your budget on some hack who can't act really fair?), but they do.

Re:Hahahah (0)

Murmer (96505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062457)

The production costs of dvds, like every other kind of media ever, has only gotten cheaper over time. Has the price of CDs or DVDs dropped during that time? Not so much. If anything, the opposite.

TV shows pay for themselves with advertising. Movies pay for themselves with product placements and box office receipts. DVD sales, especially on successful movies are as close to pure profit as makes no difference; they don't cost what they cost because there's some line item somewhere on Studio's budgets that says "to cover cost of extra explosions, increase the price of DVD sales by $1." They cost what they cost because people have proven themselves consistently willing to pay that much, over and over. How many slashdotters have every single copy of the first Star Wars trilogy ever released? At, what, sixty bucks a box? You don't think those things got more expensive to make over time, did you?

DVD sales are almost pure profit. Not "covering expenses" profit, but the regular old rolling around in piles of cash surrounded by hookers and blow kind.

Re:Hahahah (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062709)

they pay lead actors 10 million odd per flick - cry me a fucking river.

End the sentence (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062073)

I magically know how these end, dunno why, so I filled in the gaps for all of you:

A simple chip added to a DVD disk COULD prevent retail theft, but won't.
Game console DVDs COULD also be protected this way too, but won't.
COULD this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies? It won't.


Bottom line is, apparently on Slashdot you can substitute "could" with "won't" and you get to read the actual material we're handed. Cut down the pointless speculation guys, it's lame.

hmm (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062079)

So not only will there be motivation to steal DVDs, but also the activator as well. Bravo.

Re:hmm (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062321)

Actually, you say that and it makes me wonder if the larger part of lossage is caused by organised crime. It doesn't matter how many protection devices you put in place if the folks who are just going to resell the stolen goods at full price can just buy or steal the same machine for themselves.

Not hardly (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062081)

Could it help bring prices down? Umm no if anything manufacturers would inflate the cost and pass it on to consumers.

Preemptive Strike! (5, Insightful)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062101)

Article should read At home, using a cheap Chinese device, the chip is activated and sends an electrical pulse through the coating, turning it clear and making the disc playable.
China thanks you for creating another black market for it to thrive in.

Uh huh (1)

michael021689 (791941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062109)

As if they would pass savings on to the consumer. At best they will just stuff their pockets with any profit gained from decreased theft, and there will be a hack on the internet within a week. Same old, same old.

Re:Uh huh (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062621)

Actually, they will probably pass the costs of development and manufacture on to the consumer, and then pocket even more profit. </tinfoil>

Reduce... prices? (5, Funny)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062115)

Oh yeah. That's what they're working on. They got a dozen guys on it. They got 'em working in shifts!

/me wanders off, cackling

Re:Reduce... prices? (1)

jfeldt (967756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062249)

Nice reference. My favorite about the car:

"Uh, uh, papers, um, just papers, uh, you know, uh, my papers, business papers."
"And what do you do, sir?"
"I'm unemployed."

Re:Reduce... prices? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062361)

thanks for chiming in, faggot

we all care

Re:Reduce... prices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062453)

Likewise, asshole.

Re:Reduce... prices? (2, Funny)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062583)

The RIAA man in the black suit, Dude. Worthy fsckin' adversary.

Why steal retail? (5, Insightful)

fugu (99277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062117)

Wouldn't it just be easier to download the movie instead of risking getting caught shoplifting? =p

Re:Why steal retail? (2, Interesting)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062309)

And apparently I might have to do that. Currently, when I buy a DVD at the local best buy or any other store the people are too lazy to deactivate the anti-theft device. That means the alarm always goes off making me look like a thief, wasting my time as they search my bag and so on. Now instead of just being annoying, I'll get home and my DVD won't play! Then I have to go to the store and bitch them out costing more money in gas. Are they trying to get me to download the shit?

I'm really sick of this shit. I buy movies that I like. I buy games. I even buy music. Why do I have to suffer?

I also have to wonder why they did this with an old technology. Supposedly we need to adopt the new blueray or hd-dvd formats. Why not focus on making the players for the new formats cheaper instead of "innovating" for old formats?

Re:Why steal retail? (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062339)

Unfortunately bandwidth isn't that cheap everywhere (Australia for example)... shoplifting is a fairly easy target (Yes I used to do it quite extensivly). The only thing you have to worry about is leaving fingerprints and a video. With the internet there is much much more as every node is different and you can't control them all...

Re:Why steal retail? (5, Interesting)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062365)

Absolutely not. Some of us prefer to have a physical media, a printed cover, DVD extras and the like. I can't be having with any of this fiddling with codecs, badly burnt discs, questionable quality...and above all, the illegality. Downloading a film deprives the studios, the actors and the crews involved in making a film.

So that's why I always steal the DVDs from stores :)

Re:Why steal retail? (2, Interesting)

Asmandeus (640419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062593)

A large amount of the people who steal retail DVDs (box sets are a big target;small and expensive) are drug addicts and this is how they pay for their habit.

Now a bit more on topic...
The thief will just fence the stolen DVDs and be on his or her merry way to buy whatever drug of choice. Most likely the fence would be a pawn shop. What's to stop this pawn shop from getting a hold of one of these devices? If the pawn shop isn't eligible to obtain one, then they have two options: Steal one or package the DVDs up and get them to a reseller who will just then restock Best Buy or Target or whatever with the stolen goods.

I don't see what good this chip can do. It just causes more bullshit steps and solves nothing.

Re:Why steal retail? (1)

ddoctor (977173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062609)

Why steal retail?

Better resale value :)

Questions Asked by the Summary (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062127)

>>Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate $400 million dollars in losses from brick and mortar stores? Game console DVDs could also be protected this way too. Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?

All these questions in the summary discourage me to continue on reading the article because it appears that the submitter is very, very confused and is asking for clarification from /. regarding the article.

So rephrase the question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062185)

How much is "$400 million dollars" divided by the number of discs sold in the same timespan (a year), and what is the cost of the anti-theft chip per disc? It would be interesting to compare the two.

Will it lower the cost? (5, Interesting)

wtfbbq (1097721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062141)

No, people that steal wouldn't buy if they couldn't steal. The price of the dvd themselves + the burning is very cheap and the theft is really only worth the physical amount. People that steal likely aren't going to be buying if they couldn't steal. If they can't steal physically they will turn to downloading or getting a blockbuster membership and turn to ripping/burning. If anything, this added ability will just make the checkout lines in Best Buy take longer. Oh, it will also increase the production costs and the machine that will 'validate' the dvd will likely INCREASE the cost. I'm not an endorser of people stealing, but I doubt this would have anything but a negative effect. Hell, if the 'validation' fails 1 outta 100 times the whole system will likely collapse and it will just be a huge waste of money.

Good news for consumers (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062143)

We are pleased to announce that all our new DVDs will be rendered theft-proof by the new on-disk chip enhancement. Thanks to our new ultra-efficient disk manufacturing plant on Guadalcanal, the extra charge for this service will not be more than $1.00 per disk...

rj

Re:Good news for consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062487)

These discs are theft-proof in the same way James Bond's car was theft-proof.

You may or may not recall that scene?

Close-up of the "theft proof" decal.

Long shot of the a smirking vandal smacking the car with a big pipe.

Longer shot of the car exploding in a big ball of fire.

Hey, you have to admit, it really was theft-proof. It didn't get stolen. That's the second best car security device ever invented. The first? Not having a car in the first place.

Probably won't help much (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062149)

the problem with this idea is that it assumes that people are stealing the movie because they want to get the movie without paying for it. While that probably represents some portion of the people who steal dvds, I would suspect that many others are stealing just to steal. Dvds tend to be out on the shelves in large quantities, so they are probably one of the easiest things to steal, and some people just wanna steal something.

So basically... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062157)

...the addition of this chip means you only have 48 hours to stick the DVD into your computer and run your DVD copier program.

Retail?? (1)

fohat (168135) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062169)

I thought all the money they were losing was because of Pirates!
I don't understand it. They put the chip in, and then a person buys it and the clerk activates it, and it will still make it onto the internet somehow.
I wonder how much of the quoted $400 Mil are stolen from the inside...

Re:Retail?? (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062471)

Their is plenty of piracy online but a lot people still shoplift.

Still Not Secure... (1)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062173)

I give it a month before a workaround gets published on the net. Melinda Gates anyone?

Movie prices not likely to drop (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062183)

Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?

I typically find that the DVD costs less than the soundtrack. Neither is likely to get cheaper.

Why even bother with rhetorical questions? (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062217)

You're talking about a cartel that engages in illegal price fixing, a cartel which uses the government to enforce their pathetic copy protection schemes, and EA. You'd have to be truly moronic to believe that anything short of the near death of an industry would lower prices.

Cop Math (5, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062219)

Retail theft of entertainment products, including video games, accounts for as much as $400 million in annual losses, according to the Entertainment Merchants Association.

I just love those numbers. I'm much more concerned about the estimated $120 million in lost productivity resulting from time spent dealing with broken shoelaces, and the estimated $275 million in annual losses to people who are shortchanged by hot dog vendors.

How about a moratorium on all numbers that were pulled out of a PR guy's ass?

Re:Cop Math (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062383)

Math pulled out of a PR guy's ass causes an estimated 90 trillion dollars in damage every year!

Chip on Water Could Prevent Theft (0)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062257)

"A simple chip added to water could prevent retail theft. According to the AP article at MSNBC, the chip would be activated at the register to make previously dark water clear, and therefore drinkable. Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate 400 million dollars in losses from brick and water stores? Sparkling water could also be protected this way too. Could this help to bring the prices down on inflated water prices?"

right idea, wrong direction (4, Informative)

Catcher80 (639611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062261)

Well, there is a great idea in here somewhere. "A chip smaller than the head of a pin is placed onto a DVD along with a thin coating that blocks a DVD player from reading critical information on the disc. At the register, the chip is activated and sends an electrical pulse through the coating, turning it clear and making the disc playable." Wow.

How long do you think it will take for these "DVD Decryption" devices, as it were, to hit the black market and for plans to be readily available on the internet?

How about, a security device hidden on the DVD itself that will ALWAYS make the security device go off (electrical tape be damned) unless it's rung up at the register first? That would sound like a useful application to me. Come on... people will stop stealing just because they can't watch it? The basic principle of stealing/hacking/whatever is first and foremost "do it to see if you can" right? I can't imagine the inordinate amount of people who will laugh their asses off after stealing this worthless media content, if for no other reason just to piss off Wal*Mart or whoever. It's fun sticking it to the proverbial man.

Another point, how many of you have bought a DVD or other related product, and gotten the hidden security device on it deactivated at the register, just to have to door alarm beep at you and you have to pull out your receipt to verify your purchase? How many people are going to make it out the door and to their homes, to discover their DVD wasn't REALLY activated at the register, before they figure out it's a bad idea? You think Wal*Mart is going to believe you when you come back in and say "Yes I bought this, no it wasn't activated for some reason" ? NO NO NO NO NO.

There ARE some useful applications for this technology, oh yes, there are; however, I really think this one is quirky. Come on Corporate America.

Stop treating us like criminals... (1)

TheSlashaway (1032228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062279)

Stop treating us like criminals and start treating us like customers. How's that for an idea?

Yeah right (1)

teoryn (801633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062373)

Sound great, until someone gets access to a machine that can change the little chip...

Oh yea, and they'd have to have one of those machines at every cash register.

How is this any better (5, Interesting)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062377)

than putting an empty case on the shelf, and having the shop assistant put the DVD in the case/exchange it for a full case at the register? Is that too difficult for stores to do?

Proud Pessimist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062391)

And... I'm sure the material will degrade over time, say after 2 or 3 years, and the clear area will return to black. Heh.

Kind of like those thermal cash register receipts that fade after 12 months.. or when doused with water.

How can you lose $400 million dollars? (1)

okmijnuhb (575581) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062393)

How can the industry count $400 million dollars of losses of sales from people who obviously never intended to pay?

Re:How can you lose $400 million dollars? (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062477)

The industry doesn't lose it, the brick and mortar store eats the loss.

Re:How can you lose $400 million dollars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062547)

How can you lose $400 million dollars?

Down the back of the sofa?

Bring prices down... not likely!! (1)

BlueF (550601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062403)

"Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?"

Isn't it just as likely the MPAA would raise prices citing the added cost of technology "required" to stem shoplifters?

Brilliant! (4, Insightful)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062411)

Make it even more inconvenient to buy legitimate copies. That'll sure encourage people to buy them instead of resorting to piracy.

Just one more... (1)

Attis_The_Bunneh (960066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062419)

thing for the kids with PCs and too much time to crack. I give it two weeks when it rolls out. Anyone up for bids on the odds? Lemme call a bookie in Vegas. ;)

-- Brede

My Favorite, Old Classic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062473)

The case of the 500-mile email

The following is the 500-mile email story in the form it originally appeared, in a post to sage-members on Sun, 24 Nov 2002.:
From trey@sage.org Fri Nov 29 18:00:49 2002
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 21:03:02 -0500 (EST)
From: Trey Harris
To: sage-members@sage.org
Subject: The case of the 500-mile email (was RE: [SAGE] Favorite impossible
        task?)

Here's a problem that *sounded* impossible... I almost regret posting the story to a wide audience, because it makes a great tale over drinks at a conference. :-) The story is slightly altered in order to protect the guilty, elide over irrelevant and boring details, and generally make the whole thing more entertaining.

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

"We're having a problem sending email out of the department."

"What's the problem?" I asked.

"We can't send mail more than 500 miles," the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. "Come again?"

"We can't send mail farther than 500 miles from here," he repeated. "A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther."

"Um... Email really doesn't work that way, generally," I said, trying to keep panic out of my voice. One doesn't display panic when speaking to a department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like statistics. "What makes you think you can't send mail more than 500 miles?"

"It's not what I *think*," the chairman replied testily. "You see, when we first noticed this happening, a few days ago--"

"You waited a few DAYS?" I interrupted, a tremor tinging my voice. "And you couldn't send email this whole time?"

"We could send email. Just not more than--"

"--500 miles, yes," I finished for him, "I got that. But why didn't you call earlier?"

"Well, we hadn't collected enough data to be sure of what was going on until just now." Right. This is the chairman of *statistics*. "Anyway, I asked one of the geostatisticians to look into it--"

"Geostatisticians..."

"--yes, and she's produced a map showing the radius within which we can send email to be slightly more than 500 miles. There are a number of destinations within that radius that we can't reach, either, or reach sporadically, but we can never email farther than this radius."

"I see," I said, and put my head in my hands. "When did this start? A few days ago, you said, but did anything change in your systems at that time?"

"Well, the consultant came in and patched our server and rebooted it. But I called him, and he said he didn't touch the mail system."

"Okay, let me take a look, and I'll call you back," I said, scarcely believing that I was playing along. It wasn't April Fool's Day. I tried to remember if someone owed me a practical joke.

I logged into their department's server, and sent a few test mails. This was in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, and a test mail to my own account was delivered without a hitch. Ditto for one sent to Richmond, and Atlanta, and Washington. Another to Princeton (400 miles) worked.

But then I tried to send an email to Memphis (600 miles). It failed. Boston, failed. Detroit, failed. I got out my address book and started trying to narrow this down. New York (420 miles) worked, but Providence (580 miles) failed.

I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my sanity. I tried emailing a friend who lived in North Carolina, but whose ISP was in Seattle. Thankfully, it failed. If the problem had had to do with the geography of the human recipient and not his mail server, I think I would have broken down in tears.

Having established that--unbelievably--the problem as reported was true, and repeatable, I took a look at the sendmail.cf file. It looked fairly normal. In fact, it looked familiar.

I diffed it against the sendmail.cf in my home directory. It hadn't been altered--it was a sendmail.cf I had written. And I was fairly certain I hadn't enabled the "FAIL_MAIL_OVER_500_MILES" option. At a loss, I telnetted into the SMTP port. The server happily responded with a SunOS sendmail banner.

Wait a minute... a SunOS sendmail banner? At the time, Sun was still shipping Sendmail 5 with its operating system, even though Sendmail 8 was fairly mature. Being a good system administrator, I had standardized on Sendmail 8. And also being a good system administrator, I had written a sendmail.cf that used the nice long self-documenting option and variable names available in Sendmail 8 rather than the cryptic punctuation-mark codes that had been used in Sendmail 5.

The pieces fell into place, all at once, and I again choked on the dregs of my now-cold latte. When the consultant had "patched the server," he had apparently upgraded the version of SunOS, and in so doing *downgraded* Sendmail. The upgrade helpfully left the sendmail.cf alone, even though it was now the wrong version.

It so happens that Sendmail 5--at least, the version that Sun shipped, which had some tweaks--could deal with the Sendmail 8 sendmail.cf, as most of the rules had at that point remained unaltered. But the new long configuration options--those it saw as junk, and skipped. And the sendmail binary had no defaults compiled in for most of these, so, finding no suitable settings in the sendmail.cf file, they were set to zero. One of the settings that was set to zero was the timeout to connect to the remote SMTP server. Some experimentation established that on this particular machine with its typical load, a zero timeout would abort a
connect call in slightly over three milliseconds.

An odd feature of our campus network at the time was that it was 100% switched. An outgoing packet wouldn't incur a router delay until hitting the POP and reaching a router on the far side. So time to connect to a lightly-loaded remote host on a nearby network would actually largely be governed by the speed of light distance to the destination rather than by incidental router delays.

Feeling slightly giddy, I typed into my shell:

$ units
1311 units, 63 prefixes
You have: 3 millilightseconds
You want: miles
                * 558.84719
                / 0.0017893979

"500 miles, or a little bit more."

Trey Harris

Because we all know... (1)

noobishness (1048406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062501)

that the current theft-prevention systems always get de-activated at the register. It would really suck to get a DVD home only to realize that it was never activated.

What Would the Russians Do? (0)

searchr (564109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062527)

This story reminds me of the classic tale, legend or not, of NASA engineers spending millions of dollars to create a pen that could write in zero gravity. The Russians had the exact same problem. Their solution? They used pencils. $0.00 R&D.

In this story, the "Russians", are stores like EBGames and Gamestop (using games as an example.) How did they combat this very real, complicated, and expensive issue?

They took the DVDs out of the cases. Thieves get an empty box for their trouble.

$0.00 R&D.

Re:What Would the Russians Do? (2, Informative)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062691)

Re:What Would the Russians Do? (0, Flamebait)

searchr (564109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062745)

um. "Legends" aren't false. Or rather, they are by nature.

Anecdote stands.

Point stands.

Slashdot Geek level stands.

Re:What Would the Russians Do? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062715)

This story reminds me of the classic tale, legend or not, of NASA engineers spending millions of dollars to create a pen that could write in zero gravity.

Legend. Snopes [snopes.com]

Re:What Would the Russians Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062743)

Yes but if you've seen the amount of crap you have to take off the packaging just to open it, Wouldn't it just make more sense to do what Toys R Us did 15 years ago and just have a picture of the cover front and back on the shelf?

Or or or ... get a bunch of those cheap LCD screens, permenently mount them to a display, it displays what's in stock, you push a button and it prints a ticket for you, you bring the ticket to the checkout, they trade you the ticket for the disc, that they oh so convienently have because you pressed the button 20 minutes ago in the store?

Not a bad idea. (1)

lindseyp (988332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062557)

I think this is a good idea, in theory at least. But then wait until a couple of months later when all the 'dark' areas inexplicably start go*******NO CARRIER*******

Remove (1)

schlichte (885306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062567)

the chip is activated and sends an electrical pulse through the coating

So can sticking the disc in a very low taser level clear this right up? Maybe a microwave on low for n - seconds?

Also the article says...

...Kestrel Wireless Inc.
Could I put this on my wireless router, download an ISO and the disc will be fixed?

How reliable would this be? (1)

eternalnyte (765741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062571)

I can't wait until I go out and buy a shiny new DVD and bring it home only to realize that the high school kid at the register failed to "activate" the disc properly... only to take it back to the store and be accused of being a thief. After all, only a thief would have an "un-activated" disc, right? blah.. I don't trust anything like this...

It must be magic (4, Insightful)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062585)

I am sure that they can invent something that can be installed on a million cash registers in the United States but will be impossible to procure by any other means. Why didn't anyone else think of this earlier?

Re:It must be magic (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062653)

Yep. This has every sign of being somebody's get-rich-quick scheme. I say we wait for them to get all ready to put this in production, and then just shoot everybody involved in selling the deactivation devices, on the grounds that they are sleazy bastards.

For whatever reason.. (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062615)

I get the feeling that making it impossible to play a stolen disc isn't going to bring costs down much. Assuming (probably incorrectly) that costs are in fact high in order to make up for losses in theft/piracy, somebody stealing a 6 cent disc instead of paying $20 for it (or $60-ish for a game) before making illegal copies probably wasn't all that a significant loss in the scheme of things. On the other hand, this would make buying entertainment products on physical media all the more annoying.

Retail theft is a problem?? (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062647)

Where the heck did this come from? I thought piracy was the big deal here... :-)

Lower Prices? Sincerely? (1)

Theoretical Enigma (1100157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062669)

Honestly, the entertainment industry has been getting a certain amount of money for movies for ages. Just because they put a new device to try to hinder burning, stealing, etc. doesn't mean prices are going to go down. Yes, the movie industry price gouges insanely, but day after day people pay the money to get a movie--- let alone to see one at the theaters (tickets are unreasonable).

I agree with the fact that others will just pick up discs from a movie rental shop and burn from there. People who steal from stores will just find other ways to manage to get the media to play. People have conjured up various ways to bypass security measures before- what will be different here?

As for personal property, What is wrong with personal backups of your own media? You pay the high cost of a movie- you should be able to copy it as many times as you want for personal use.

When beta was on top, the industry wanted VHS- when it really wasn't superior... just bigger tapes in all honesty. We buy more movies, repurchase what we already have, and more money goes to the Movie industry. They know many clever ways to exploit buyers... this isn't going to lower prices any more than anything else. They are used to people paying a certain amount for movies, it isn't going to get any cheaper.

Movie Industry= Money Whores

Yeah, no. (4, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062673)

Judging by how often the door alarm goes off, a chip being activated or deactivated at the register has a HIGH RATE OF FAILURE.

Another Lower Prices Comment (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062675)

Of course prices won't be lowered. More likely they will raise the prices and justify this to the general public by saying that it costs more to make the disk with this feature. Not a huge raise, maybe 50 cents to a dollar higher. The public gripes and moans and pays anyways, just like we do with gas and Windows.

Yeah right, (4, Insightful)

omahajim (723760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062703)

That's like TicketBastard lowering their labor and distribution costs by allowing you to print tickets at home on your own printer, instead of having them mailed. But it costs the consumer *more* to print their own ticket at home (isn't it like $3 extra???) and mailing, which should cost them more, is no extra charge. What a racket.
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