Musing about information warfare and judo techniques

I was reading the latest issue of the MIT Technology Review, and came across an article headlined Movies That Fight Back. You can follow the link and read the whole article if you wish to, my thanks to the publishers for keeping it DRMfree.

It appears that 90% of the piracy involving new film releases involve “in-theater camcorders”. Two techniques are discussed. One comes from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and pings the light-catching sensors in digital cameras and then “zaps it with a narrow beam of white light, producing large splotches on the recording”. A second technique,  from the “Content Security” unit at Thomson, seeks to exploit the frame-rate gap between film and video by inserting doctored frames, invisible to the naked eye, randomly within the film.

Serendipitously, I had been mulling over the latest in splog battling tools, Owen Winkler’s AntiLeech. In Owen’s own words:

AntiLeech does not prevent the splogger bots from accessing your site. It produces a fake set of content especially for them that includes links back to your site (and mine, too, ok?) and sends it only to them. When they steal this content, it appears online just like normal, except now you’ve turned the tables on them and have provided them with useless content.

Regular readers will know precisely how I feel about poorly thought-out implementations of IPR protection and DRM. There are many reasons why I feel that way, but one of the most powerful ones is related to Unintended Consequences. I cannot help but feel irked when my freedoms and pleasures and conveniences are inhibited by “content-owner” attempts to prevent or punish “illegal” accesses to the “content”. For people like me, it is this irritation that formed the last straw, that made me look harder at what was happening in the DRM/IPR space, and then grow increasingly appalled. Enough said.
What intrigues me about the techniques referred to above is their judo nature. They use the energy of those that are apparently committing a crime to prevent the “crime” itself.

If DRM and IPR need to exist, then they need to learn from these examples. Everyone wants creative people to be recompensed for their creative activity. Everyone wants to pay for what they experience in viewing or reading or listening to something; but when that very experience is diminished, sometimes to a point of absurdity, by the protectionist measure, then there is something very wrong.

I shall be on the lookout for more examples.

Let me know what you think

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