Watermarks: A better DRM than DRM itself?

Watermarks: A better DRM than DRM itself?

Summary: If you're a digital content expert or you've encountered my series of blog posts on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), then you should know by now that the "R" in DRM is officially for the word "rights" and not the "Restrictions" that I have been using as a permanent substitute.  But, in its current incarnations from various vendors, DRM technology has turned out to be more about stripping you of your rights than it is about managing them in a way that we'd consider management.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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If you're a digital content expert or you've encountered my series of blog posts on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), then you should know by now that the "R" in DRM is officially for the word "rights" and not the "Restrictions" that I have been using as a permanent substitute.  But, in its current incarnations from various vendors, DRM technology has turned out to be more about stripping you of your rights than it is about managing them in a way that we'd consider management.  DRM is more restricting than it is right-giving or right-managing.  Even artists (eg: musicians) -- the very people whose rights DRM is also rumored to manage -- are outraged by the chilling, restricting effect of DRM.  But maybe, just maybe, there's a glimmer of hope in yesterday's announcement by TiVo.  But don't be surprised if the authorities come knocking on your door. If TiVo's "watermark" approach to the same problem that DRM was meant to solve takes any root, I'm wondering whether most if not all of the problems created by DRM could be eliminated overnight.  For the record, TiVo's public relations department has so far not responded to my request for more information about its announcement.  So, even though there's some guesswork in my analysis, I think you'll find the conclusion to be quite sound.

Some history is in order.  TiVoToGo is a technology from TiVo that basically allows the company's customers to take the recordings they make with their TiVo digital video recorders (DVRs) on the run.  For example, let's say you "TiVo'd" an episode of Desperate Housewives on Sunday night and want to watch it on the train ride into town on Monday morning.  TiVoToGo makes this possible.  In June of this year, Microsoft and TiVo jointly announced the TiVoToGo technology.  The connection between the two companies was quite clear.  TiVoToGo made it possible to take your recordings on the run with a portable playback device but, outside of DVD players and PCs (also supported by TiVoToGo), it only works if you're on the run with a Microsoft playback device.  Your Microsoft playback device.  Under the hood, it was probably a combination of Microsoft's Windows media format and DRM technologies that restricted playback to such devices (I say probably because I can't confirm this with TiVo).  At the time, there was no video iPod.  But there were Microsoft-based PDAs, smartphones, and mobile content players (MCPs) that were enabled to playback video content "wrapped" in Microsoft's formats and DRM. 

Despite what naysayers have to say about looking at small displays, taking recorded video on the run is a great idea.  Given the choice between nothing and a small display, many people will  take the small display. So, TiVoToGo as a concept makes perfect sense.  But, along with that sort of portability of content (from DVR to MCP) comes the risk that the content will end up being pirated into unintended distribution channels. By restricting  the "ToGo" part of TiVoToGo to specific playback devices, TiVo was doing its best to prevent such leakage and business model disruption.  But, in doing that, there were other unintended consequences.  With more MCPs coming out, many of which are not compatible with Microsoft's technology (eg: Apple's video iPod), TiVo was denying itself access to the entire market. 

To rectify the problem, TiVo has one of two choices.  One of those is to turn TiVoToGo into a multiplexing technology that's smart enough to "portabilize" content using the format and DRM scheme that matches whatever MCP the end-user has.  For example, if it's a Microsoft PlayBack device, use Microsoft's video formats and DRM.  If it's a video iPod, use Apple's video formats and DRM (the two are completely incompatible with each other).  If it's a Sony player, use Sony's formats and DRM.  You get the picture.  It's a lot of effort -- fraught with the sort of technical complexity that makes rootkits look simple -- that borders on  the absurd when it comes to what TiVo should have to do to make its customers happy.  Not to mention the technology licensing issue. 

Not only are royalties (costs that a company facing stiff competition the way TiVo is shouldn't have to bear) involved when building a device that is capable of encoding content with another company's file formats and DRM technology, not every company is licensing its technology as liberally as Microsoft is.  With the exception of some Motorola phones, Apple -- a company that, given the way it has its sights set on being the digital media hub,  is a likely candidate to enter the DVR business at some point in the future -- has kept its technology to itself.  Given the popularity of iPods and iTunes Music Store purchased content, licensing the technology to TiVo could undermine Apple's own success in the digital media business. Sonos, a maker of a wireless audio solutions that compete with Apple's AirTunes, is all too familiar with the exclusionary tactic.  As I've written before, although Apple does not have a monopoly, I believe this behavior to be monopolistic.  

The other choice TiVo had was to try for something much simpler and cheaper for the company to manage. Go with a format that virtually all digital video playback technologies understand, get rid of the DRM, and find another way to send a clear message to its customers that the illegal redistribution of TiVo'd content will not be tolerated.  Exit DRM and enter watermarks.  To make its recordings compatible with MCPs of all types (including Apple's video iPods and Sony's PSPs, both of which are mentioned in TiVo's press release), we have to assume (again, no call back from TiVo) that instead of converting to Apple and Sony's proprietary formats, TiVo will be converting to the more widely supported MPEG-4 video encoding scheme.  Coverage of the news by Engadget suggests this is the case.  Just about anything capable of playing back digital video can playback an MPEG-4-based video.  But MPEG-4 has no provisions for DRM, and as such, practically greases the wheels of content piracy. This is where watermarks come in.

Here's what TiVo's press release has to say on the issue:

Subscribers will need to purchase certain low-cost software to facilitate the transfer of content from the PC to these portable devices. To discourage abuse or unlawful use of this feature, TiVo intends to employ "watermark" technologies on programs transferred to a portable device using the TiVo ToGo feature that would enable tracking of the account from which a transferred program originated.

And here's what Engadget said in its coverage about the watermark feature:

...recorded shows will be digitally watermarked allowing content to be tracked back to your living room if you get torrent happy with ‘em, dig? Fair enough, as this still allows us to view the content on as many portable devices as you like...

In other words, content that you download and encode will be uniquely watermarked so it can be traced back to you. So, if you want to load something you recorded up to the Net for illegal distribution, go right ahead.  But don't be surprised if the authorities come knocking on your door a few days later. At first glance, a lot of people will say this sort of system sucks.  Yeah, it does.  It sucks that content providers are forced to go through such hoops and content consumers like us are forced to put up with those hoops.  But, on the other hand, compared to how restricting DRM is, this is infinitely better because it focuses on rights instead of restrictions.  It gives us the rights we should have to view our content anytime, anywhere, on any device we want.  Not where TiVo says we can view it. Not where Apple, Microsoft, or Sony says we can view it.  It even enables us to illegally upload that content at the Net.  But, instead of restricting us from doing that, it basically sends the message that if we do so, we do so at the risk of our own peril.  The burden is shifted away from ridiculous friction-inducing technologies and back to the content providers who must seek out and destroy illegal distribution channels.  Only this time, there's a smoking gun (the watermark); one that you really don't want to leave behind.

Of course, one of the reasons that watermarks can be so effective is that -- with all those pixels and colors that go into every frame of digital video -- watermarks are easy to bury into video in difficult to hack ways that don't substantially interfere with the viewing experience.   This raises the question of whether or not watermarks can be equally effective for audio.   For example, if you add bits to an audio file, will they turn up in the listening experience? If the answer is yes, might audio watermarks involve some compromises that make them easy for hackers to strip out? Via e-mail, I interviewed an expert on the matter -- Tony Faulkner, partner at the UK-based Green Room Productions.  What makes Faulkner an expert on the topic is that Green Room Productions produces digital recordings of classical music and recordings of classical music are probably the ones that can least tolerate unwanted noise: the sort of noise that a watermark could potentially introduce to such a recording.  Faulkner is a member of the Audio Engineering Society's Technical Council and recently chaired a meeting on audio watermarking in Los Angeles that  involved some of recording industry's biggest players.  With his permission, I've posted a complete reproduction of his very thoughtful e-mails to me here, but the short of it is that audio watermarks can pose challenges to the most sensitive of listeners -- people who the audio industry refers to as "golden ears" -- but they're challenges that Faulkner believes can be overcome.

After responding to my series of DRM and issuing a warning that Sony may have something even more insidious in store for us than rootkits -- something called AACSLA --  Faulkner went onto discuss the potential for audio watermarking and why one previous attempt failed:

Watermarking as a concept is a good concept and used successfully in graphics, so long as it does not corrupt the material it is supposed to be protecting.  Superimposing a buzz of pulses slap bang into the middle of the analogue audible band of music is pushing your luck.  [If] it can be very, very low level and masked by system noises and programme, then you get away with it. It can be digital and put into the data-stream without sounding terrible.  However if you need the watermark to be robust enough to survive copying to/from analogue cassette via a telephone line in analogue, then the robustness requirement means it is more likely to be audible.......Watermarking digital audio should also be quite possible without degrading the quality irreparably.  The previous effort which the audio community got upset about was a different matter: it interfered specifically with the main audio band, which is daft for a high quality medium.  We were more angry about the quality degradation before any consideration of deprivation of consumers' rights.....My main concern now is not with DRM which degrades audio quality, it is with DRM constructed by incompetents and intended in bad faith to deprive legitimate money-paying customers of their rights.

Of course, bear in mind that a lot of the music that people listen to is so noisy that burying a watermark in those recordings would be almost as simple as burying a watermark in video.  Especially when you consider that most music is being played back from a compressed format anyway (in other words, the listener has already "accepted" certain compromises to the quality of the music).  To me, watermarking, as it apparently surfaces in TiVo recordings and as described to me by Faulkner, sounds like a far more promising approach to dealing with the piracy problem than is DRM.  Even if I don't all the details on the TiVo announcement right, the promise of watermarking still stands.  It maintains the rights of all those involved (rights holders as well as listeners) while creating a "system" that clearly deters illegal copying and distribution.  I'm sure there'd be some low level, below the radar pirating... but that's the sort of pirating that's always been a part of the recording business.  The costs of that have long been built into Hollywood's pro forma.   It eliminates the introduction of friction to a system that technologists should be looking to strip of friction and could lead to the added benefit of letting users decide for themselves whether they want to sacrifice storage space for quality (for example, going with a space consuming lossless audio format like FLAC instead of a very lossy but space saving one like MP3).

So, what are there pitfalls? Right now, I can't think of any.  Can you?

Topic: Mobility

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  • I think it's a better DRM that won't affect the consumer directly like DRM.

    But...

    It'll be cracked.. As always.. Whether hardware/software.. The only way for these corporations to hinder our ability to crack is to not allow programming on personal pc's... :)

    That ain't gonna happen.
    ju1ce
    • How will they "watermark" CDs?

      Not everybody buys music online. It only takes one unprotected CD to make the whole thing useless.

      ie. Watermarking works for things like TIVO but not much else.
      jinko
      • Watermark ripping programs

        The cd itself wouldn't be watermarked, but your program that rips
        it would add one. Much like the idea that the tv program isn't
        watermarked, but when TiVo records it, it adds one.
        tic swayback
  • Pitfalls?

    The only pitfall I can think of immediately is that content producers (I guess that means the record companies, movie studios, etc) will complain that clever hacking can remove the watermark. This is true no matter what the watermark ends up being, and for all formats. However, clever hacking can already remove any and all DRM, so I hope that argument is short lived (if it is even raised).

    Conceptualy, this is a win-win-win situation. The content producers win, because they can track down violators (people illegally sharing). Device manufacturers win, because they don't really have to do anything (everything will play everything). And the consumers win because they don't have to put up with the innane restrictions imposed by ill-though DRM schemes.

    My personal music collection is over 7000 mp3 files, ripped over the past four years from my personal CD collection. I have now started adding from my vinyl collection... albeit at a much slower pace. I do not have a single DRM encrusted file in my collection, nor do I ever intend to. When I switched from a three year old Creative Jukebox3 to a new video iPod, there was no pain. In my house, a server stores the ~40GB of mp3 files (256kb VBR), and I can freely listen on any workstation-- Mac, PC, Linux, iPod, FreeBSD, cell phone, Roku, Slimp3, and so on.

    It's my music, I paid for it, and I am not a criminal!
    RestonTechAlec
    • Losers

      * The content publishers lose because they start by assuming that their legitimate customers are crooks - and go on to assume that everyone else is suspect. How sick is that? Brand degradation anyone?

      * Device manufacturers who are ahead of the game (e.g. Apple) lose monopoly rights (granted, not much of a negative). Some device makers need to pay to upgrade to MPEG4 - leaving existing customers in a hole. Ambitious electronics and software makers see the loss of a potential market... this list just goes on and on.

      * Consumers are hoodwinked into thinking that their rights and freedoms are protected - while a ubiquitous citizen-monitoring system is put into place.

      Win-win-win? I don't think so.
      Stephen Wheeler
      • Citizen monitoring?

        Please. If you don't illegally share your files, you really shouldn't worry. I suppose you'd rather have a rootkit on your PC and the inability to use the content you paid for. You're at greater risk for being falsely accused due to leaving DNA at a crime scene you were at before the crime occurred. A few hairs fall off your head as you scratch it, etc. How does your watermark "accidentally" get "out there"...short of getting hacked?
        Techboy_z
    • Please, RTA, How do you RIP from vinyl?

      That is what I want to preserve and make available in my truck.

      Thanks for any help and info, URLs., etc.
      Update victim
      • There's a connector on the back labelled "line in"

        Get a cable and connect somthing to it.
        jinko
    • A MAJOR pitfall....

      With watermarking all your media files are just ticking timebombs waiting to be exploited.

      All your ex girlfriend/boyfriend/employee needs to do is copy a few files off your computer and put them on P2P and you'll be in a world of hurt.

      Lose your laptop or mp3 player? The person who finds it might think it's "funny" to upload all the files.

      etc. etc.
      jinko
  • Details, devil

    In principle watermarking solves the problems of protecting the legitimate rights of copyright holders, since it doesn't put a circuit in place of a circuit judge.

    However, the business-model issue is still there. The Content Cartel doesn't want to ship individually-customized copies to purchasers, they want ot ship a single image to [b]everyone[/b] and only have it watermarked at the customer location.

    Which means DRM between the provider and the customer, plus "trusted" processing at the customer.

    In other words, this doesn't replace DRM, it just adds a "sufficiently trusted" final output path to what is still basically a DRM system. It still depends on taking control of the customers' systems with the customer in the role of attacker, and still imposes incompatibilities between the various primary means and "trusted" transcoders.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • YEP! - NT

      .
      Update victim
  • Filtering & Theft

    The two most problematic issues with watermarking are Filtering and Theft. Filtering (applying compression or other audio filters) to the watermarked audio threatens the robustness of watermarks. The more robust the watermark, the more audible/visible it will be.
    Just as DRM launched an "arms race" with hackers, if Watermarking becomes widespread it will do the same. Additionally, the existance of multiple instances of the same product with different Watermarks could provide a "crib" for easier reverse engineering.

    Watermarked material is also open to theft, and could lead to an individual whose watermarked materials are stolen (and subsequently distributed by the thief) being wrongfully accused of illegal distribution.
    chaisty
  • Several problems...

    First, lets address the idea that you own the content.

    "...this is infinitely better because it focuses on rights instead of restrictions. It gives us the rights we should have to view our content anytime, anywhere, on any device we want."

    It is not "our" content. You are talking about taking a broadcasted Televison show, recording it on a TiVo, and then transfering it to other devices. Nothing in that grants you any sort of rights at all. You have not paid for the content (you may pay for delivery service but not the content) you obtained it free of charge, or more accurately with the implied condition that advertizing is acceptable in order to recieve it for free. Are you suggesting people will not break this implied agreement and remove the advertizing? I simply don't believe that. People will remove the advertizing and destroy the revenue stream required to produce the content.

    Next you suggest that TiVo should not have to do certain things to sell in this market. I strongly disagree. TiVo makes no content at all and have no "rights" to anything. If the broadcasters decided to change any technical aspect of their broadcast, it is TiVo's responsibility to follow the change. Not that it would happen but if broadcasters decided to use a different frequency then TiVo would have to change their hardware to deal with it.

    Next comes the technical side of it. What you are suggesting is to use software to generate the watermark. As we have seen over and over, software security simply doesn't work because it is so easily hacked. If nothing else something like B-Trace from Sun makes this extremely easy.

    But beyond that, what is to stop a pirate from installing the software under a phony name and spoofing an IP address or even using a wireless hot spot to "share" the content. Yes you can track it down to the local McDonalds to a guy named John Doe, but that is pretty much useless isn't it?

    It also raises many questions about privacy. Assuming you must register this software with a name or some identification, doesn't that create a pool of known users of recording/transfering consumers to sell to spammers, phishers, etc.? I see no way to avoid that.

    And finally I want to address something I have said over and over, DRM is not just about entertainment. It is about providing security for anyone wishing to control their "content". That could be your tax returns, a contract bid, or even a home made "kinky" video you send to a significant other for personal reason. <g> Where the problem seems to come in is while everyone wants their content protected, they don't want anyone else's to be protected. It seems to me the complaint is the entertainment folks are being blasted for doing what everyone has a right to do. It's as if many want to create a second class group of content creators without the rights afforded to everyone else.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Rebuttal

      [b]Point 1: Ownership of Broadcasts[/b]

      This has already be determined in court. In both the case of recording a TV show off broadcast TV and recording music off broadcast radio. It has been determined this is fair use. How you pay for the content is via comercials and paying a cable or satalite provider. I don't pay for the service I pay for the content. Hence the reason I have to buy a satalite reciever which on it's own is useless then I pay for the content through the satalite company. Much is the same I pay for CD when I buy it at Walmart. I'm not paying Sony for the CD but Walmart. The details on how Walmart is able to sell the CD is left to Walmart and Sony.

      [b]Point 2: What TIVO can do[/b]

      Tivo doesn't have to jump through the content creators hoops. They can choose to implement the watermark and the content people can choose to accept that, not accept or find a middle ground. This means that even though there is a water mark the content people can still implement the broadcast flag DRM they are talking about. In this way if they decide to let you record it and keep it then can do that and have it work with TIVOs water mark or they can just not let your record at all and be done with it. The options are endless and in the end it will be the consumer who forces the issue with their $$$.

      [b]Point 3: Software Security[/b]

      No security is flawless. Software or hardware there will be hacks. It's going to happen be it DRM on the MOBO or Water Mark software. The point here is video water marks are incredibly hard to remove. Also what's stopping Tivo from putting the water marking technology into the hardware?

      [b]Point 4: Identity[/b]

      I think the fact that you have to supply ID to get the software and have it registered in your name is road block. Now you could supply fake ID, that's possible I suppose. This is how it is with buying satalite recievers. They want to know who owns reciever X and you are responsible for that reciever. If that reciever is detected pirating satalite TV they know who to go after. Works for them so I don't see why it wouldn't work for Tivo.

      [b]Point 5: Who want DRM[/b]

      DRM has it uses and the Water Mark software is not going make DRM go away. It will make DRM used where it's most useful. Such as in Tax documents. If my tax document is secured with DRM it's in my best interest as well as the governments and I'm not going to hack it so others can access it freely. With Movies for example it's in the movie studio best interest to have DRM but not the consumers interest. The consumer has no benifit is keeping the DRM secure so it's going to get hacked. In DRM there are always two sides and both sides have to agree to use it. That's why DRM fails with consumers. That's why there are proposed laws to attempt to force the consumer to agree to DRM. That won't work either.

      [b]In Conclusion[/b]

      Water mark technology is win win for content companies. Content companies can still try their DRM and have it fail only to find thier content on the illegal P2P services. At that point they can check the watermark and nail the offender. I think this is how it will start then as content companies realize how much money is being wasted on DRM and that they are solely using WaterMarks to catch offenders they will then dump DRM. This of course will only happen once offenders start getting taken to criminal court or sued which should cause a dramatic decrease illegal fileswapping.
      voska
      • I don't think so...

        "recording a TV show off broadcast TV and recording music off broadcast radio. It has been determined this is fair use."

        Correct, you have the right to record, not transfer, not to alter, not to take any form of ownership.

        "How you pay for the content is via comercials and paying a cable or satalite provider."

        Not true. The Satelitte is a delivery system you ELECT to pay for. Watching "Lost" via satelitte gives you no special rights over someone watching it via open air brodacast.

        "Tivo doesn't have to jump through the content creators hoops. They can choose to implement the watermark and the content people can choose to accept that, not accept or find a middle ground."

        Again, simply not true. TiVo MUST license the technology for both cable and satelitte reception. (just as VCR manufactures had to agree to a license.)They can of course record free air broadcasting but even then they must live within the confines of copyright laws. They "own" nothing.

        "Software or hardware there will be hacks."

        While *may* be possible to get around the hardware DRM it will soon require the replacement of the CPU and support hardware to do it. Not something Joe Six pack is likely to do. As David pointed out there will always be some pirating, but the goal here is to make it extremely difficult, something software has failed to do.

        "Now you could supply fake ID, that's possible I suppose."

        And that alone makes the entire concept useless. If you track it to John Doe at McDonalds what good does it do?

        "If my tax document is secured with DRM it's in my best interest as well as the governments and I'm not going to hack it so others can access it freely."

        No, but others would certainly like to and that is the point I made. *You* want DRM (security) of your content but others want to take it away. Trust me, lots of crooks would love to get their hands on your tax return and all the information it contains.

        "With Movies for example it's in the movie studio best interest to have DRM but not the consumers interest."

        Hmmm, putting door locks on cars is in the owners best interests but not the crooks that want to take it for a joy ride. Sure it's a pain to have to carry around keys to the car, locks freeze, keys get lost or broken, etc.. But it is acceptable to the vast majority. The point being that the consuimers do not own the broadcast content. Sure, everyone would like free content they could do anything they want with it, but that is not how it works and never should be.

        "Water mark technology is win win for content companies."

        No, it's more like having a screen door to keep the rain out. It doesn't work. When something as simple as a false name or a spoofed IP address can subvert the entire concept and render it useless, there is no protection at all.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • I find you're arguments fail

          No transfering? Oh watch me record to a DVD on box A and play on box B. Nothing stopping me from doing so. Say you record to a tape then you can tranfer said to tape to any other VCR out there.

          What free TV? Not sure I get you there. You pay either a cable company or a satalite company where I live or you get no TV. But it's alreay be said you can record via TV or Radio so I don't see your point.

          As for Hack even the CPU is a joke as it only take 1 person to hack it. Can you say useless. Now if you know who that person is they you have something.

          Hot spots? What's that have to do with a TIVO box putting water mark on the recording that is linked to your ID when you bought the device. Doesn't really matter where you violate copyrights. I coud distribute copies on street corner and still it would be tracked back to me.

          As for TAXES. I have the key and government has the key. I have no interest in spreading the key around and neither does government. I'm getting impression you don't understand how DRM works here so lets just drop this from the discussion.

          Water marks also don't replace DRM. YOU CAN USE BOTH DRM AND WATER MARKS. DRM, I feel is waste of money and maybe one day the corporations will realize the spending fortune on DRM and not seeing returns will change thier mind too. My opinion here has little bearing the fact that the combination of water marks and DRM is better than DRM alone.
          voska
          • Where you make your mistakes.

            "No transfering? Oh watch me record to a DVD on box A and play on box B."

            And that is true because the DVD manufactures paid for a license to do so. That license has certain restrictions that go with it.

            "What free TV? Not sure I get you there."

            All broadcast TV is free of charge. The fact you CHOOSE to live in an area without broadcasting is not anyone's responsibility but your own. It certain gains you no "special rights".

            "As for Hack even the CPU is a joke as it only take 1 person to hack it."

            No, that *might* allow one person to pirate, but not millions. Again, it will require completely reworking the CPU and all hardware, very few would even try.

            "Hot spots? What's that have to do with a TIVO box putting water mark on the recording that is linked to your ID when you bought the device."

            Simple, you lie when you buy the TiVo and give a false name. (Happens all the time with cable and satelitte recievers.) You give the name John Doe (make one up) and then use a spoofed IP address or a Hot Spot to keep it from be tracked to you. In other words, it's useless. You do understand IP addresses are spoofed all day long right?

            "As for TAXES."

            Whjo said anything about taxes? I have no idea what your talking about.

            "I feel is waste of money"...

            It's their money to waste. But more than that, what you are suggesting is that someone should be able to tell you what sort of lock you can place on your doors. Gee, would the crooks prefer you use a $5 lock or a $500 security system? Not to hard to figure that one out...
            No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Way off the mark

          ---Correct, you have the right to record, not transfer, not to
          alter, not to take any form of ownership.---

          Sorry, no. You don't seem to understand fair use rights at all. I
          can record a show on television. I can transfer it to different
          media types, as well as transfer it to different locations to view
          it. I can alter it all that I want. I can cut it up and remix it. I can
          cut out clips to use for academic purposes. I own that particular
          instance of the content. Yes, the things I can do with that
          content that I own are limited by copyright law (I can't re-
          distribute the material for example). But then again, the things I
          can do with my car are limited by traffic laws, but make no
          mistake, I do own my car.

          ---Again, simply not true. TiVo MUST license the technology for
          both cable and satelitte reception. (just as VCR manufactures
          had to agree to a license.)They can of course record free air
          broadcasting but even then they must live within the confines of
          copyright laws. They "own" nothing.---

          But that says nothing about DRM or deliberately crippling users'
          ability to use the products you're selling. Most of these things
          are compromises, the electronics manufacturers bowing to the
          will of the content providers, but are not legally required. Check
          out the new Neuoros MPEG4 Recorder 2 if you want to see a
          completely legal product where an electronics company finally
          got the balls to stand up to Hollywood.

          ---*You* want DRM (security) of your content but others want to
          take it away---

          Your argument that everyone wants DRM for their own stuff but
          not for everyone else's is logically flawed. It makes no
          distinction between private personal material, and material that
          is sold for public consumption. You can't put every single piece
          of content into the same category.

          ---Hmmm, putting door locks on cars is in the owners best
          interests but not the crooks that want to take it for a joy ride---

          Again, a flawed analogy. A better one would be permanently
          locking doors on taxis or movie theaters. Yes, it would certainly
          make them more secure, but would be bad for paying customers
          and in the long run, hurt business.
          tic swayback
      • You actually think...

        "No security is flawless. Software or hardware there will be hacks. It's going to happen be it DRM on the MOBO or Water Mark software. The point here is video water marks are incredibly hard to remove. Also what's stopping Tivo from putting the water marking technology into the hardware?"

        That they are hard to remove? How do you think the content companies remove them. :P

        Point is.. The moment it goes digital and has the ability to be on a computer. Security measures to the point of restricting fair use is pretty futile. Because in a week or two.. Someone will have figured out how to get rid of the watermark.

        D... I... G... T... A... L...
        ju1ce
    • Entertainment folks being unfairly blasted? Kidding, right?

      "It seems to me the complaint is the entertainment folks are being blasted for doing what everyone has a right to do."

      Well, if I buy an item, I darn well better be able to use it for as long as I own it or it breaks down.

      In this case, as long as a digital file I pay for exists, I better be able to play it. But no...if I so much as have to _rebuild_ my computer, or upgrade to a different computer, I can't. Sure, you can backup licenses, but when you transfer to another playback device, you get messages that backed up licenses are not allowed, if it even deigns to read the file at all.

      That is WRONG. Period. Screw piracy by consumers...that is piracy by the industry.

      You'd complain if you put a memory upgrade in your computer and then had to re-purchase the whole system from the manufacturer before you could use it, wouldn't you? This is the exact--same--thing.

      What really sucks? If I went to a file-sharing network and downloaded, say, a song I'd already paid for but could not play because of digital restrictions because I moved my files from my laptop to a new desktop system, I'd be the bad guy. Go figure. I paid for it the first time; if their paranoid and crappy software restrictions don't allow me the legal use of what I purchased, I'll find a way around it.
      TechinMN