Watermarking media

It seems the new trend of the music industry against piracy is watermarking movies/audio/etc.

Content is water-marked by adding very small (unnoticeable) changes that could store something like a rsa based certificate to identify a given audiotrack.

Originally I thought they’d use it to track down the source of an illegal download. It sounds illogical to me because it’s hard to keep watermarks when format is changed (mp3, ogg and others really do mess up slight unnoticeable differences because otherwise they wouldn’t compress as good). And when someone has got two versions of the same audiotrack one can compare them and find out how something is watermarked.

Maybe the scheme of the industry isn’t that stupid, but the other way around (and a lot more evil). Maybe just sue everyone who hasn’t got a watermark on their movies or mp3.

Luckily a Fair Use bill was passed which they say (haven’t checked) allows fair-use conversion of format of media.

Copy protecting

From software, audio to video are being illegaly copied and everytime the major brands try to implement some kind of protection. They always claim their protection to be perfect, and yet it is always broken, for it is quite simple:

As long as the intended user has the platform on which he`ll run it in his own possession he can always adapt it in someway to extract the data. Even the best video protection can’t beat making a bypass in your monitor to acquire the image on your screen.

Even protecting something like a DVD is almost impossible. The dvd player hardware and software must be able to read what’s on the cd, and a protection must be able to be read to. Also there must be dvd writers to write a protection. Now all major brands can say they’ll put a protection in their DVD burners to protect from writing to the DVD protection section, but then another brand creates their DVD burners that can write to it and everyone will buy those which the big brands won’t let happen. And even if they got the disk itself truly protected someone can emulate the DVD using software or even hardware.

Also there are things that allow itself to be copied, but the original copier can be tracked; this by putting in every video/song/software a unique signature which can be tracked back to the store which then can track it back to the person who copied it. Sounds great, would be impossible to forge when they use strong RSA like cryptography, just one problem, when inserting random trash instead of the signature someone can know the piece is illegal but cannot track someone, hopeless.

The only, and only way, to stop illegal copying is making buying legaly less of an effort than acquiring illegaly. I hope they will relize this sooner or later for honoustly I`m becoming sick of all those ‘magic’ protections.