Friday, February 23, 2007

Beware of Geeks Sharing Media Gifts

Studios want to dictate when, where and how their content is distributed — all in the name of direct revenue. But this strategy flies in the face of the media-sharing reality. It's never been easier to record and share video, and it will only get easier as more people participate.

If you're Sony, what do you do?

Why Sony? It controls media as well as many consumer products for recording and playing media. That makes them unique amongst the large studios.

I can imagine Sony acting like Big Brother at some point. Every media image will have a unique serial number secretly embedded. That serial number might be some combination of TV show, telecom, set-top box, TV set, DVR, DVD recorder, CPU, IP address, logins/passwords, and date. The theory is simple. With all of that data, it should be easy to identify the person who originally recorded and uploaded any video that violates copyright law. And just as easy to locate those who aided distribution by sharing.

In theory.

But, like with all things in life, people will find a way. Some tech-savvy people will quickly find ways to counterfeit these serial numbers, causing a dead-end investigation. Or, worse, causing the studios to prosecute the wrong person.

As the studios try to maintain control over all aspects distribution, I'm sure we'll see an interesting discussion of privacy rights. I wonder how the FCC feels about the subject?

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