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Ugh, stop twitching
building better DRM
minutiae Posted 2008-05-28 17:23:21 by Jim Crawford
According to Boringboring, Paramount is sending out copies of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with portions of the soundtrack muted. Evidently this is a new DRM system, to track and to deter piracy. Of course, like all DRM, this ruins the experience for paying customers without affecting piracy in the slightest.

There are non-invasive watermarking techniques available, so using such a scheme to track piracy is inexcusable. Deterring piracy, on the other hand, is harder to do without ruining the experiences of paying customers. I've got a couple better ideas:

Using polarized light, project unpleasant images such as Goatse or Tubgirl onto the screen, overlaying the entire film, and give viewers polarized glasses to filter it out. Clever pirates will simply put the glasses in front of the video camera, but there's an easy solution to this, too: if anyone tries to enter the theater with a video camera, don't give him the glasses.

Take advantage of the idiosyncrasies in the human optical hardware that don't exist in video cameras. For instance, you can hand out a card with colored blobs on it, and cue the viewer to start staring at it a minute before a key scene in the film. Then when the scene is about to begin, you cue the viewer to look back an the screen, and you calculate every displayed frame as the difference between the intended image and the negative of the image they were just staring at.

Of course, the minute before the scene would have to take place in the dark, so the viewer didn't feel like he or she was missing out on the visuals. Every theatrical release would have to do this. Working a dark scene in right before an important story sequence without making it seem unnatural and arbitrary would become the hallmark of a great filmmaker, much like how the best porn film screenwriters slip the sex scenes in without a hitch, and how the best Interactive Fiction fits the puzzles in.
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