I've already discussed the German music store using watermarks to discourage piracy, and now it seems another service is applying the same principle to video.

Instead of handcuffing viewers who want to view films they purchase on multiple devices and otherwise use content legitimately in ways DRM blocks - Streamburst takes two steps to prevent movie piracy.

The first is that every film begins with a 5 second display of the name of the person who purchased that copy, as it appears on their credit card.  The second step is that Streamburst eliminates an undetectable but unique series of bits from each copy of a file downloaded.  That idea is that the psychological barrier of being named will stop many people from illegally distributing the files and those whom it doesn’t stop can be identified by the unique series of bits stripped from whatever copies make it into illegal file sharing networks.

These techniques are just as effective at preventing the bad guys as "real" DRM (that is, they're not), but go a long way towards discouraging the average user from "casual sharing". First, you're giving the consumer an unencumbered file they can use how they choose. Second, it addresses the issue behind much cybercrime - namely, the feeling of anonymity on the Internet. Very few people will upload a video if they know their name is displayed in it.

Shame may in fact be the best DRM we can come up with.


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