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New digital copy protection scheme fails

By joshv in News
Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 07:25:17 AM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)

New Scientist has a short article on the failure of a 'watermarker' technology for the new DVD audio format.

Personally I think that even if the technology was perfect, it would be rejected in the marketplace, just like DiVX was. When are these people going to get it through their heads that we want to control our own music - just make it cheap enough and we won't have to rip it off.

I think this is just another in what will be a long string of technological and commercial failures of copy protection/encryption methodologies. We are used to being able copy our music, and we can still buy CDs that allow us to do so - a new format would have to offer a lot for us to give that up.

Fundamentally record lables need to realize that music is simply not worth the exorbitant prices we are now paying. Stop worrying about what people do with the music after it is sold, worry about selling it conveniently at a reasonable price, and most people will be happy to just buy and listen.


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New digital copy protection scheme fails | 23 comments (23 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Can't work (4.00 / 1) (#1)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:20:36 AM EST

A transparent (inaudible) audio watermarking scheme will never work, since MP3 is designed to remove inaudible data. Even if they could get it to work in a few test cases, it would be nearly impossible to get it working on all encoders at all bitrates. And then they'll have to deal with other lossy codecs (MPEG4, Vorbis, etc.), all using different psychoacoustic models.

Re: Does work (4.00 / 1) (#3)
by warmcat on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 09:38:34 AM EST

I did some design implementation work for a company active in this area a couple of years ago. The systems work in the frequency domain by modulating the amplitude and phase of energy at specific freqencies, for a specific time period in order to signal a bit.

They claimed it survived MP3 compression easily, and as I understand it MP3 merely quantizes signal frequencies that it judges inaudible harder, not ''removes them''. Their particular system was designed to have codes embedded that were readable after transmission over FM radio, and as they're still in business I suspect it works fine :)

[ Parent ]
Re: Does work (none / 0) (#16)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 08:45:19 PM EST

Yes, it's supposed to be pretty easy to build things which are inaudible and survive mp3 encoding, but it's never been to hard to remove these things in the past. It was under the impression that it would be hard to make a "easy to verify but hard to remove" watermarking system, but I could be wrong. Now, watermarking systems can provide a limited form of protection. First, you change the encoding of the DVD's every 2 montha and put the decoding software on the front of the DVD, so that they always work. Now, the crackers will have access to the decoding software, but you can make it difficult enough to understand that it will take them 2 months to crack. Finally, you have prevented the cracker's DVD players from playing any movies under 2 months old, so you can charge a lot for new DVDs but drop the price to compeat with the pirated stuff after 2 months.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Re: Can't work (1.00 / 1) (#6)
by StarKruzr on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 10:52:16 AM EST

Didn't I read somewhere that MP4 was supposed to be lossless? Or something? OK, I'll confess: I don't really remember. :) Can anyone give a really quick rundown of the new characteristics of MP4 as opposed to MP3?

Remember: No matter where you go, there you are. ~'Kruzr
[ Parent ]
Re: Can't work (none / 0) (#7)
by DJBongHit on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 11:09:32 AM EST

Sorry, I suck, I meant to hit "Reply" and I hit "Rate". Oh well. Anyway...

Didn't I read somewhere that MP4 was supposed to be lossless?

No, unless it was on a misinformed rumor site :-)

Can anyone give a really quick rundown of the new characteristics of MP4 as opposed to MP3?

Just better compression. An MP4 at a higher bitrate will be the same file size as an MP3 at a lower bitrate.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Ummm do I understand the term bitrate here? (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 11:30:08 AM EST

Isn't bitrate number of bits per second? So an mp4 at the same bitrate as an mp3 of the same length will be the same size surely.

[ Parent ]
Re: Can't work (none / 0) (#12)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:08:02 PM EST

mp4 is an awfully big standard. mp3 is just a sublayer of the mpeg 1 standard.

mp4 does everything under the sun, like tracked audio (ala MOD), MPEG video, synthesized audio (ala MIDI), and lossily compressed audio (ala mp3). It also handles combinations of the above. It's a beast.

[ Parent ]
Re: Can't work (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by freakazoid on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:48:45 PM EST

First of all, there is no such thing as "mp4." The .mp3 extension on a file (what we call "MP3") is MPEG-1 layer 3 audio encoding. MPEG-4 is a set of standards for low bitrate video, audio, structured audio, multimedia, etc. MPEG-4 includes things like AAC for audio, though now that I think of it AAC may be part of MPEG-2 as well (MPEG-3 was skipped, which is part of what's causing all of this confusion; its recommendations were rolled into MPEG-2). AAC has about twice the quality of MPEG-1 layer 3 for a given bitrate (read: file size). MPEG-4 video is similar to what the DiVX Windows Media Player codec hack uses (and Windows Media Player itself). Windows Media Player may actually use something close to standard MPEG-4 video by now.

MPEG-4 also includes ways to synthesize audio, i.e. you define a bunch of instruments and then specify how to play them, similar to (in fact based on) csound. This could be considered "lossless," but since you're not really encoding anything other than sheet music and instrument definitions, lossless really isn't the right word.

[ Parent ]
analogue.... (4.50 / 2) (#2)
by martin on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 04:48:41 AM EST

somewhere along the lines the digital stream will have to get to analogue so the vast majority of devices (TVs) can display it. Even if the display is fully digital, there's no end to end protection. ergo I can copy it at some point in the datastream...all it does is give the movie studios some false sense of security (which is worse than no security at all IMHO). I can physcally replicate anything, its down to laws and policing to stop piracy, not some half arsed technology. (clothes have the same problem, its not just 'technology' that suffers from this problem). 'Security' is about technology, procedures and policy. If the policy isn't right you screwed (ie certain governments seem to turn a blind eye to mass copying). If the procedures aren't correct your screwed (policing those garage sales/car-boots for pirated goods - ie go for the big boys not the 'home' copier). If the product's any good in the first place the vast majority of people will be honest and pay for a proper copy (assuming the price is fair - if its not the producer looses out). If the legal owner of the product sells it at a fair price they sell lots. make money and cut out piracy. Why do DVDs cost so damn much - because the movie studios put a huge mark up on them, drop the prices and you can lots at a small profit AND dramitically cut piracy in one go.....

"New digital copy protection scheme fails&quo (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by Denor on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 09:59:12 AM EST

In other news:
  • Sun rises in east!
  • Earth continues to exhibit a gravitational pull!
  • UUNet traffics 10 millionth spam e-mail!

I really wonder when (or even if) folks will realize that copy protection doesn't work. Haven't we been through all of this before? I remember my good old Commodore 64 had software which had copy protection. I also remember it had software to circumvent it. Had I become more proficient in programming the disk drive, I could have likely written such software myself.

Ah well, just goes to show you that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Hmm, better save this post for 2034, it could save me some trouble rewriting :)


You are an idiot. (1.15 / 20) (#5)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 10:30:06 AM EST

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Re: You are an idiot. (2.33 / 3) (#9)
by cesarb on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 11:30:14 AM EST

I still want a -1 rating.

[ Parent ]
Re: You are an idiot. (2.00 / 4) (#11)
by Gomker on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 12:51:33 PM EST

I second that

[ Parent ]
Re: You are an idiot. (2.00 / 4) (#14)
by Wah on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 02:43:20 PM EST

Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
Oh, come on guys! (1.25 / 4) (#15)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 03:47:14 PM EST

How can we make this a second /., if we don't pull together here, and troll, troll, troll!

[ Parent ]
Re: Oh, come on guys! (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by bigdogs on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:02:22 AM EST

I sincerely hope you're joking. The trolling ruined slashdot. Let's not see the same thing happen here.

[ Parent ]
Excuses (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by Tin-Man on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 12:25:25 PM EST

just make it cheap enough and we won't have to rip it off.

Sorry, kids. Nobody makes you steal music. You don't have to steal something just because the price is too high.

While I agree with you that copy-protection schemes are doomed to failure, and that fair use law extends to creating personal copies of purchased music, your argument that the music industry is giving you no alternative but to steal your music is nothing more than a fallacy.
The future sure isn't what it used to be!

Re: Excuses (none / 0) (#18)
by phoneboy on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 04:46:41 AM EST

Nobody makes you do anything, but I think you're missing the point. Most 1-disc CDs cost somewhere between $15 and $20 each and contain 12-15 songs. On most CDs, I would only want maybe one or two songs. When you look at the economics of it versus the likelihood of getting caught (near zero), copying a song or two off a CD is an easy choice to make. I personally don't do it myself -- I've got way too many CDs! :-)

On the other hand, if I could buy a song or two off an album, pay a couple of bucks (or so) and it were easy, I'd do it, plain and simple. And you know what, a hell of a lot of other people would, too. What would even be cooler would be to get a CD with a couple of songs from artist X, another from Y, and a bunch from Z and have them ship it to my house complete with liner notes. A few companies do this, but the choice of songs is limited.

If the record company would just wake up, pull their heads out of their caves and smelled the money, they might realize it's a good idea.

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy, a.k.a. PhoneBoy dwelch@phoneboy.com, http://www.phoneboy.com The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of anyone else.
[ Parent ]
Display lot unnuoonceeng with Denor (1.46 / 15) (#19)
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Myself beekinis fails even (1.20 / 10) (#20)
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Smokedot her kuro (1.06 / 15) (#22)
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Necessarily goldtoken piracy aren cunseederebly ab (1.37 / 8) (#23)
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New digital copy protection scheme fails | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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