Thursday, May 12, 2005

RFID as DRM

Why not get the best of both sides if you want to control and manage content? As the RFID Journal reports the UCLA's Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) is researching the use of RFID as a DRM tool. It works on the integration of RFID tags in DVDs, which would be authenticated by RFID readers in DVD players. The stages of the project are very early, but already the RFID-DRM is presented as a great could-be development for consumers: they would be able to watch new releases at home the moment they come out. That is of course the spin on most DRMs: enhanced consumer choice for what is above all an anti-piracy tool and business model enforcer.

More technologically skilled may be able to point out the potential problems underlying this use of RFID, but let me lift some from the article:
  • in order to authenticate the content, the player would need to link to an online network that would associate the DVD with a legal sale
  • rightsholders would have DRM control over the content through this (online authentication) system
  • "a platform for associating DVDs with their purchasers or owners" would be needed
  • consumers can only view movies on RFID-enabled players
So, here we see how the access and copying controls of old meet the monitoring and profiling of new. Relatively new, for playing a DVD at least, which raises some serious (intellectual) privacy concerns under this scheme. The content providers' answer to these concerns will probably be one of comfort, as always: the linkage between content and its "owners"/purchasers will serve you better. Yes, and we serve the servants.
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Later Ed Felten at Freedom to Tinker analyses the use of RFID on DVDs and says the idea "isn't totally crazy".

2 Comments:

Blogger Ian Samuel said...

This is pretty freaky. And a weird way to go about adding a little bit of data to a disc that already contains billions of byes.

I posted about this, citing this post:

http://greyhame.org/archives/2005/05/rfid_not_just_f.html

13/5/05 08:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just Divx version 2. The idea that your DVD player will have to connect to the internet to allow you to play a lawfully purchased DVD is rather chilling.

Additionally, the authentication process means that the DVD rights holders could limit the number of DVD players the DVD would play on or even the number of times it could play. They could also keep a database of every DVD you watch and when.

Consumers said no to Divx, I think they'd say no to DVD's with authentication. The consumer gets nothing out of the equation but hassle.

14/5/05 02:44  

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