RFID to bolster fight against digital piracy

Last week we reported that RFID is now being mobilized in the effort to stop DVD piracy. Many in the entetainment business believe that if the idea is implemented correctly, it will be an important step in fighting piracy, a problem costing the entertainment world billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. The RFID-equipped DVDs are developed at UCLA's Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) as part of a broader effort to enhance Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The RFID-tagged DVD would have to be played in a DVD player equipped with hardware enabling it to read the information in the tag. That information would be controlled by the owners of the content on the disc. The system being developed at UCLA will occupy a middle position between totally unrestriced use of digital content to use restricted to a single hardware device.

Some question the RFID approach to thwarting piracy. Analysts say that while RFID may thwart digital pirates, it will not stop analog ones. Rather than taping a movie off the big screen, pirates would tape it off an HDTV or computer display. Others point out that other technologies already exist to fight piracy. A DVD version of the "broadcast flag" is being developed, aiming to create DVD players which would only read discs containing codes proving their authenticity. Also, next generation DVDs will likely use a technology called broadcast encryption, now being developed by IBM, Sony, Intel, Microsoft, Disney and others to do the same things the UCLA RFID system hopes to achieve. Others point out one more hurdle: Implementing the new system would require customers to buy new DVD players.

For more on the RFID-equipped DVD:
- see John P. Mello's TechNewsWorld report

PLUS: Sony is testing copy-protected CDs. Report

ALSO: Participants at this week's GS1 UK EPCglobal RFID Conference in London say that the time is now for RFID. Experts warned that those who do not take a seize-the-day attitude to the technology will be thrashed by their competition. Story

FINALLY: Microsoft Senior VP Paul Flessner says that making RFID available inexpensively and plentifully from a Windows perspective is a "super-important play." Story

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