The new limit of DRM lunacy: requiring fingerprints for DVDs

Wired has this story about researchers at UCLA coming up with what has to be the most assinine form of DRM yet: a DVD that will be encoded so it will only play for the person who specifically bought it. This is accomplished through some handwaving mumbo-jumbo involving that recent poster child of privacy invasion: the RFID chip.

Under this scheme, when you go into your local megacomglomerate audio/video store, instead of just picking up a DVD off the shelf and going home, you’ll need to offer up a fingerprint or iris scan in order to purchase it. An RFID tag embedded in the DVD is then encoded with this biometric data. At home, your DVD player will demand that you provide your fingerprint or iris to prove that you should be allowed the privilege of actually watching something you bought. If your fingerprint/iris scan/DNA matches whatever is encoded on the DVD, why then, you’re deemed worthy of actually viewing that Pauly Shore film you just bought.

If Hollywood is actually stupid enough to buy into this scheme (and at this point, I really see no limits on the depths of their stupidity) you can kiss goodbye the ability to buy DVDs as presents for others, buy DVDs for your kids (junior would have to be present and stick his little finger in the machine if he wants to be able to watch Lilo and Stitch on his own), buy DVDs over the internet, sell your used DVDs, rent DVDs at all, yaddah yaddah yaddah. Oh, and you’ll have to toss out your old DVD player, too.

Yeah, I can see consumers buying into this. This is even worse than Flexplay self-destructing DVDs that have, well, seemingly self-destructed in the marketplace.

Gee, I guess if the MPAA and RIAA see all of their customers as thieves, I guess demanding that they be fingerprinted is a rational next step for them.

And all of it, of course, is irrelevant. If people have to submit a fingerprint just to get a damned DVD, you can bet they’ll rip the damn thing by hook or by crook in order to make it more palatable to use in the future. And once it’s ripped, hey, who wants a copy? A clue for Hollywood: alienate your customers, and they go away. You’re not supplying us with oxygen for god’s sake, just Paulie Shore films. We can make do without you.

Howabout, maybe instead of all this, just making good movies and selling the DVDs at a reaonable price?


  1. I was already paranoid about RFIDs before reading that corporations may one day expect me to surrender biometric data just to buy a product. This GATTACA-style nonsense, one dearly hopes, will flop before it ever gets out of the lab. You are right, Gary: this is lunacy.

  2. In my family, we share. I suppose that makes us a bunch of godless commies, so that we don’t deserve the benefits of such very private ownership.

    Whenever they ask me at the checkout for my phone number or other identifying info, I always just say “no.” (Of course, they can get it from the credit card I pay with. But hey, if they’re going to be that stupid, why should I help them?)

    I feel like my days are numbered. On the other hand, my family buys a lot of stuff. Maybe that counts for something.

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