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Study: Biometric DVD protection?

Written by Lasse Penttinen @ 19 May 2005 10:54 User comments (31)

Study: Biometric DVD protection? Wired reports about a study that would make DVD backups tiny bit more difficult.
Here's how the system might work:
At the store, someone buying a new DVD would have to provide a password or some kind of biometric data, like a fingerprint or iris scan, which would be added to the DVD's RFID tag.

Then, when the DVD was popped into a specially equipped DVD player, the viewer would be required to re-enter his or her password or fingerprint. The system would require consumers to buy new DVD players with RFID readers.
Indeed, that would be a neat protection. But on the other hand, it is still beatable. I think a system like this would just make DVD player MOD-chips a hit product. Nevertheless it is an interesting study, and I am afraid that we will see something like this in the future.

Source: Wired

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31 user comments

119.5.2005 11:35

What a joke....

219.5.2005 11:52

more bull crap Who the hell would buy it?

319.5.2005 11:55

Why don't they just build DVD players that can read our thoughts?? Then they can quickly and efficiently weed out the people w/ the intent to bootleg versus those that have don't.

419.5.2005 12:20

I think there would be huge consumer resistance to something like this - what a hassle! Stores would hate it too. I'd be surprised if we see this anytime soon.

519.5.2005 12:58

Never Going To Happen! Who would buy any of the crap.

619.5.2005 13:14

How would you buy a DVD as a gift with this system? Sounds like a bunch of malarkey.

719.5.2005 13:32

Sounds like an engineer's idea that hasn't been passed by marketing yet. Technically feasible, but un-sellable!

819.5.2005 14:44

yeah right the wrote this to see what we would say aint gonna happen never ever never ever

919.5.2005 15:41

It wouldn't be so impossible to implement really, but if one ignores the fact that there would be massive consumer resistance, there would always be some shonky Chinese company that manufactures a player that would simply bypass the verification step. Nothing to worry about.

1019.5.2005 15:47

lol it is still breakable, once the password or biometric data is inputed the dvd becames unlocked for that sessions use then all you have to do is rip it and burn it onto a blank dvd which would then have no locks on it :/.........i think

1119.5.2005 16:27

So when your wife goes out and buys a dvd for the entire family to watch there would be no way to watch it unless she were there? Sounds like a pretty kewl protection for XXX movies maybe, but thats about it. lol

1219.5.2005 16:41

wow what a joke, like who would submit a fingerprint or retinal scan just to buy a dvd! get ready for martial law!

1319.5.2005 18:36

HUGE invasion of privacy. Only governmental agencies (e.g., motor vehicle administration, police, etc.) should be allowed to have access to and/or keep records of biometric data (i.e., fingerprint). Big brother is already watching us. DVD companies don't need to be...

1419.5.2005 19:31

Plus, this system can only work one of two ways: 1.) you order a DVD but, you don't get it right away because it has to be pressed with your own unique biometric ID and then shipped to you 2.) you order a DVD but it must be burnt there on site for you, meaning no more pre-pressed DVD's, which means a huge surge in recordables. BUT, who is to say the burned copy actually works? As opposed to pre-pressed discs, where the margin of error is lower. Plus, dual layered recordables, at least in the current DVD+R DL format, isn't exactly the most friendly in terms of player compatibility. A dumb idea that won't take off.

1519.5.2005 21:08

That is the most ridiculous piece of trash that i ever heard. Who came out with this stupid idea? It is NEVER going to work. We as consumer have to go into this hassle because some jerk in hollywood is worried about counterfeit dvd's? why dont they put this technology into landmarks the terrorists won't strike us again!

1619.5.2005 21:40

This is garbage, is this a study? When a company does a study or market research wouldn't they ask people what they thought of this horrific idea. Although I could see the RIAA placing pressure on the hardware manufacturer's to implement this into new players. Although biometric??? I'm sure if it would be cost feasible for consumers to purchase a dvd player with something that would collect biometric data. In Canada we have something called the Privacy Act, why would anyone want to share their personal biometric data with some large corporation? It's an invasion of privacy if you ask me.

1720.5.2005 4:10

Every version of PlayStation 2 and Xbox has a mod chip *hint* *hint*. Oh well, I guess that the industry is really smart. There could be no way to get past this, it will be really cheap to implement, and people will pretend to borrow movies from friends and like them, then buy them. </sarcasm>

1820.5.2005 5:13

Rather than actually burning your biometric data onto the disc, it could work this way: You purchase a DVD and supply your biometric data at the time of purchase. (You could even do this with a purchase over the internet if you have a biometric scanner on your computer). Your data is recorded into an online database along with the DVD info that you purchased. At home, your player has biometic data of it's "owners" recorded into it (each person using the player records this into the player at setup time). When you insert a disc for play, the player consults the online database and matches up the DVD and "authorized" biometric data against the owners' biometric data of the player. If authorized, it plays. Upsides are: You can purchase the disc, but you don't have to physically be there to play it (i.e, your kids or wife can play it) as long as you're registered in the player. Also, if your disc is destroyed (kids use it as a frisbee) you can go to the store, prove that you're already a registered owner of that disc, and get a free replacement. Downsides: Online databases are vulnerable to hacking. DVD player would need to be connected to the internet. You couldn't take that DVD you just bought over to a friend's house (unless you register as an "owner" of their DVD player). An interesting side effect of this scheme would be for the DVD rental companies... When they send you a DVD, they register your biometric data into the database. When you return the DVD, they remove it. Therefore, even if you copied the DVD, once you return it, your copy would no longer play. Any protection scheme can be hacked or broken. A DVD player runs on software so someone's going to eventually hack it. And the harder the companies try to come up with complex schemes, the harder the hackers will work to circumvent them. If DVD's were not protected at all many less people would even be trying to copy them.

1920.5.2005 10:33

It's so stupid - no one could rent or borrow movies anymore. If they try to do this, they're just begging for piracy.

2020.5.2005 11:38

We are talking about pop MOVIES here! So for me to buy or rent a copy of some piece of tripe like "Miss Congeniality" I have to submit a thumbprint or retinal scan? I DON'T THINK SO. This stupid idea tells me one thing (that I already knew...). If the industry thinks it is economically feasable to go to these lengths to "protect" MOVIES the content owners are making WAY TOO MUCH MONEY and the "product" is GROSSLY OVERVALUED!!! EVERBODY! WAKE UP! THEY ARE JUST MOVIES! The point is, do we really want to INVITE big brother into our living rooms for the sake of Hollywood's profit margins?

2120.5.2005 13:14

Wouldn't this require opening the package to patch the DVD? It's just inherently impractical.

2220.5.2005 16:08

this protection would be using RFID, the system proposed by the RealID Act in the US. the act hasn't gone into action yet, but it will. if I understand RFID correctly, you can change the data in the tag without burning it into the disc, the tag would be in a separate part. that would mean all players would have to have an RFID tag reader to unlock the data for it to be able to be played. if you were to copy the data once it was unlocked and burn it onto a regular DVD without an RFID tag, then you could play it anywhere.

2320.5.2005 21:02

So what happens when you buy one of these movies as a gift for someone? Now we have to drive our ass over there house and put in a password. Just Utterly rediculous.

2421.5.2005 7:12

thats not gonna stop piracy lets be real i mean the movies are 10.00 a ticket!! they make it back on us reguardless. thank god for bootleggers or we all would be forced to go to the movies which would lead to them raising prices. Its all a form of control, and remember people if you invite big brother into your living room he will NEVER leave, only solidify a spot there.

2522.5.2005 6:23

I do believe I can see the need for a website where you can download fingerprints and eyescans.dont you?

2622.5.2005 12:16

What happens to the poor old sod who has no internet connection. Obviously he is barred from ever watching any new film, as his DVD player won't be able to register the operators details with the servers. Then what happens if you buy the DVD scan your fingerprint, have a bad accident and loose your finger, it's obviously time to force you and all your DVD's back down to the shop, wouldn't want to be in the queue behind me that day. And God forbid when a virus hits the system, or Star Wars 3 gets released and overloads the system, I can imagine a very happy reaction to not being able to watch your nice new film. There are too many problems that this system would cause and as such it is never gonna happen, but even if it was introduced, the players would have to be backward compatible with existing disks or no-one would buy it full stop, and as such you would just get a mod to stop device reading the part of the disk which indicates that the DVD has the scanning requirement before playing, or use a device to send back the authorisation regardless of who was scanned.

2722.5.2005 14:21

Must be going mad! The most obvious flaw with this idea is the most important (Commercial suicide). Unlike the advent of DVD which was introduced as a higher quality and more reliable media to VHS, this would merely be an attempt to stop piracy. When DVDs were first released it was along side VHS and still is in most cases, although not for too much longer no doubt. If this was introduced, it would have to be incorporated with the release of Blue-Ray media players or similar (which are going to be backward compatible anyway). In which case, who is going to agree to have their film distributed solely on one new media, it may potentially stop anyone copying the film, but that has to be compared to the loss in volume of sales as hardly anyone will own the new and probably very expensive compatible players. The distributors are left with a balancing act, between security and marketing, and as they already have a proven market with very healthy profits, I can't see anyone agreeing to shoot themselves in the foot with this.

2823.5.2005 20:44

I'd say they'll get the hint rather quick! No one in their right mind will buy it. But it's rather funny just how many people aren't in their right minds!

2923.5.2005 22:50

Another serious flaw in this thinking is the automatic assumption on the media controllers' faults that biometrics works flawlessly. It doesn't. Over time, things like your eye, finger, and voice "prints" "change." Due to simple aging or other factors like damage (Eye disease, skin burns, throat surgery.) biometrics only works when the biometric prints are updated or a regular basis. How often is a customer going to put up with having to renew different discs at different times just to play them? Once you get over a hundred discs, it will start to become too annoying for the user and they simply, and rightfully, won't do it anymore just because some faceless person somewhere thinks that a potential customer might make a potnetial pirate someday.

3024.5.2005 11:34

One of the problems with biometrics is the rate of false positives and false negatives. Now, false positives may not be a problem to the consumer, ("Oh, wow, my buddy's retinal scan also unlocks this disk!") but false negatives would be a nightmare. Imagine someone buying a bio-enabled player, purchasing a bio-locked DVD and bringing it home only to discover that his player rejects his bio-print. The consumer backlash would be massive. Imagine the class-action lawsuits!

312.6.2005 19:56


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