Chips on DVDs could prevent theft

New technology in the form of a chip smaller than the head of a pin will supposedly thwart DVD theft since the discs are unplayable until they're activated at the cash register. A thin coating that blocks a DVD player from reading critical information on the disc must also be added along with the chip, which when activated, sends an electrical pulse through the coating, turning it clear and making the disc playable.

The radio frequency identification chip is made by NXP Semiconductors, based in the Netherlands, and the Radio Frequency Activation technology comes from Kestrel Wireless Incorporated, based in Emeryville. The two companies are talking to Hollywood studios and expect to announce deals this summer, Kestrel Wireless Chief Executive Paul Atkinson said. The companies said their technology also can be used to protect electric shavers, ink jet cartridges, flash memory drives and even flat-screen TV sets by preventing some critical element from functioning unless activated.

Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks Hum)
News source: MSNBC

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the system keeps inventing new methods of DRM that make it a litte harder for noobs to crack but gets cracked sooner or later anyways so really all it does is make the average user (the one who's actually paying for the DVDs, becuase of their convenience....) frustrated and confused and ironically enough pushing them more towards piracy.

way to go geniuses!

also wouldnt everyone have to buy new DVD players that support these new DVDs or break their old ones trying the play the new ones?

Read the article, what is so hard about actually reading the whole article before spouting "Evil DRM" nonsense. It has nothing to do with copy protection after it is purchased, end of story, no more. This chip has nothing to do with the freaking DVD player either, again read the frickin' article.

schubb said,
Read the article, what is so hard about actually reading the whole article before spouting "Evil DRM" nonsense. It has nothing to do with copy protection after it is purchased, end of story, no more. This chip has nothing to do with the freaking DVD player either, again read the frickin' article.

Amen

Unless it physically destroys the disc, it will be hacked. This is the equivalent to an ink bomb on a pair of jeans. If you steal the jeans and try to remove the pin, it'll go off, stainging the garment with ink. It needs to be removed at the register.

But if this chip doesn't break the disc in some way, someone will figure out a way around it so that the DVD is usable again.

And besides, this would only stop shoplifting, which I can't imagine is a big problem compared to internet piracy.

Actually this, unlike internet piracy, directly affects profits. While a lot of downloaded content was not going to be purchased by the downloaders if it wasn't freely available on the internet, theft _directly_ takes the profit of the stolen product away from the makers.

Piracy hurts rental business a lot heavier than actually retail, its the rental places that should complain, not the MPAA etc etc.

Don't buy the crap about lost profit due to piracy = number of downloaded cd's / dvd's, thats just nonsense.

Dipso said,
Actually this, unlike internet piracy, directly affects profits.

Yep, cause if you download it off the internet cause you wouldn't pay for it to begin with that so different than taking it from a store because you wouldn't pay for it to begin with. Oh wait, you took the media so that makes it worse than copying the content(which is the real product) which you have no right to in the first place.

schubb said,

Yep, cause if you download it off the internet cause you wouldn't pay for it to begin with that so different than taking it from a store because you wouldn't pay for it to begin with. Oh wait, you took the media so that makes it worse than copying the content(which is the real product) which you have no right to in the first place.

Yea, but when you steal, you are actually preventing someone willing to buy that copy from buying it. There IS a difference.

Again, they are going for casual shoplifters, not organized criminals. Organized criminals download and burn dvd's anyways...

I realize that it's not a copy protection mechanism.

And by the way, thanks for blindly calling me an idiot.

I think it's rude and presumptuous to call someone an idiot, especially when they blatantly splatter poor grammar and spelling throughout their posts.

And by the way, copy protection isn't one word.

You aren't as smart as you think we think you are.

Your friend,

Steve

I am sorry if i sounded a bit harsh, and to be honest i didn't call you an idiot, i called people who say that piracy = theft, are idiots. (It was meant as a sarcastic remark anyway, not a personal attack... :))

Also, forgive any errors my posts might contain, English is my second language ( I'm Norwegian )

And in my opinion, putting the grammar and spelling down in a discussion basically says that you couldn't come up with anything better to say :)

Now could we please get back on topic? ;)

The bottom line here is, that this is a device intended to take the place of RFID. And that (atleast on paper) works better then RFID at stopping theft. Plus it might have added benefits to the consumer (as listed in one of my previous posts).

I agree that it might be a problem off course, if this technology is poorly implemented.

The majority of people that steal these items are drug addicts.

Well when the addict is caught stealing, look em up for a year for a dose of cold Turkey.

Then the honest buyer doesn't have to pay these extra costs for purchasing.

Do you think so?

I would think that a drug addict would be stealing things that are easy to sell or to get a profit from, i cant imagine there being a big market for stolen dvd's... at least not with the prices we have here in Norway.

You guys need to grow up. A device targeted strictly at "casual shoplifters" (ie, not organized criminals) could cause so many negative responses is beyond the usual smart talking. Do you know a 10x powerful CPU also means that a hacker can crack your password 10 times faster? So?

Exactly, those who have the resources to circumvent this... aren't who its targeting.

This device has one sole purpose, to stop casual shoplifters (you know your average teenage delinquent who shoves dvd's down his trousers).

I think its refreshing to see someone dealing with real thieves for once...

Hmmm....

Wouldn't Netflix have something to say about this...?
Or the current Netflix clone- Lackluster video?

At some point, the DVD would need to be "activated", especially since it will be circulated to about 150 "lessees" (or more, depending on scratches)...

This kind of crazy protection is really sad. The poor movie studios only make a few billion a year - they really need to ensure that DVD owners only have ONE copy of their media. PERIOD.

My prediction:

  • (slightly) Lower prices for DVD's (because of this new ridiculous copy protection)
  • Higher prices (per month) for DVD rentals, because there's no way they'll be protected.
And the fight between big corporations & hackers/crackers continues!!

-More Cowbell

And again... this is not copyprotection its a anti-theft device... or are you one of those idiots who think piracy=theft?

Seems a lot of the posts here have no technological understanding behind them at all. First of all it doesn't "run out of power", just like a RFID chip gets power through induction so does this chip.

Also a chip can't be "hacked" aleast not in the conventional sense like dvd copy protection as its a piece of hardware that would need to be reverse engineered, and to do that you would most likely need a lot of expensive equipment, and even then you would need lots of expensive equipment to do anything with the chip to unlock it.

This sounds like a good idea to get rid of theft... especially if they can apply this to other things, as suggested.

To those who put this in any way or form in relation with piracy: read the thing again, its a chip that stops the physical medium from working until activated by the store at the time of purchase. It cant be "relocked" or anything like that.

About having to come home to see if its activated or not, hopfully they can make this so you can see if its locked or not, this way you can also have a guarantee that its not a used/opened product you are buying, just like the seal on bottles.

This would also mean that you don't have to wait for the idiot clerk to look through their library of disks before you get your product. Just a quick sweep over the product, maybe a quick look at the disk to make sure its unlocked, and of you go.

That kinda depends on who they want to stop. Not everyone want's to go through all the stuff you mention in your post.

You have to think of the targets they are gunning for with this technology, not just whether or not it can be beaten. A lot of these thieves don't know about ripping dvd's etc etc anyways my hunch is.

I work in a place that sells DVD movies, and after having to do invatory once a week on movies because we have close to 1000 DVD's a month stolen, I really hope this works and is implemented. We get a quarterly bonus from profits and sells, And every stolen DVD takes money out of my pocket. If there going to steal movies I would rather they download it instead.

It'll work for a while, then it will be cracked and prove to be pointless once again. Nothing is uncrackable, if it can be made, then someone can unmake it.

Xerxes said,
It'll work for a while, then it will be cracked and prove to be pointless once again. Nothing is uncrackable, if it can be made, then someone can unmake it.

Yes I agree with you and no doubt about that. Any DVD technology can be cracked. It happened before and it will happen again.

You know - even if this were to go through all of the regulations and public scrutiny - there would still be some 14 year old kid who hooks up a couple electronic gadgets from Radio Shack that cost all of $5 that will crack it. When are all of these companies ever going to figure out that no matter what they do to "lock" out software/hardware there will always be someone out there who figures it out and posts it to the internet?

aaaaggghhhhhhh :nuts:

i was thinking that too. if its going to be produced in large enough quantity's it shouldn't take too much to deactivate it.

Fire and Flames said,
Awww damn I thought the series CHiPs was coming to dvd when i read the title....

I really don't think people are reading the story properly. All the chip does is prevent the physical theft of the disc not piracy. Once someone buys it the disc will work fine which means I can rip and upload for everyone to share. Wow what a miracle breakthrough

I admit I am not an engineer, but I can think of two problems with this technology.
1) Anybody with a battery, wires, and a few cheap components could potentially replicate the "electrical pulse" that clears the DVD, etc. for use.
2) What about static electricity, or a power surge, spontaneously clouding part of, or all of, the DVD. Or causing the device to malfunction. For example, just imagine getting caught in a blackout and your USB Data Fob decides that it has not been activated, and you lost your receipt, so you cannot prove to the store that you own it, so you can reaccess your data.

1. seeing as we are talking about a chip here i would assume you needed not only an electrical pulse but some sort of code for the chip to unlock the thing.
2. if the unlocking is irreversible this would not be a problem, say if the chip activated an irreversible process in the material turning it from opaque to transparent.

Now I don't know the exact workings of this chip, but I know i have heard of materials capable of this.

Seems like an awkward solution to the problem. What happens when that little chip runs out of power? Does it stay activated? Isn't it just going to be another problem for consumers when it doesn't work?
If stealing is that big of a problem, then get better security at the store, or better yet - don't leave them in their cases.

The chip doesn't need power. When it gets power, it initiates a chemical change in an opaque film on an area of the disk. I would assume that chemical change would have to be irreversible after that, so at that point it doesn't matter what happens to the chip.

Eis said,
I wonder how much the price of a DVD will go up.

I was wondering that myself. Hey U!, You Jock' Em, you better Drop Em! :P

You don't know how many times my DVDs and CDs I bought have triggered the alarm at the door because somebody didn't deactivate it properly. I feel like a complete idiot with people looking at me like I stole something.

Mike Frett said,
You don't know how many times my DVDs and CDs I bought have triggered the alarm at the door because somebody didn't deactivate it properly. I feel like a complete idiot with people looking at me like I stole something.

lol i know what you mean... I once bought a game at game and the alarm went off not one not twice not even 3 times but 4 times!! first 3 times i had to go back then the 4th time the woman just told me to keep walking LOL

minigun said,

lol i know what you mean... I once bought a game at game and the alarm went off not one not twice not even 3 times but 4 times!! first 3 times i had to go back then the 4th time the woman just told me to keep walking LOL

well, im used to seeing people set off the alarm all the time, its nothing new to me, it happens to me all the time too. trust me, you don't look like an idiot. because at least its happened to me just as many times.

I think you are missing the point. Instead of using those stupid plastic devices to prevent you from opening and/or stealing the DVD, they use this chip at the store. People can try to steal the dvd, but couldn't use it unless they have the deactivator. This doesn't reactivate or prevent PAYING customers at all from playing the DVD unless the careless highschool student forgets to deactivate. After you buy the DVD, and that coating has been erased, you can pirate all you want, copy, etc (unless they add some copy protection). The only problem with this DVD is for people who physically steal the DVD (which is scummy).

As much as I understand the idea behind it, it isn't good for consumers. I don't want to get home and find out it won't play because the technology didn't work right and you know it won't always work right. Those other tags go off when they were supposed to be deactivated as well.
I guess its not use hoping that people simply stop stealing as unfortunately that won't happen. However more and more the honest people who want to make purchases have to deal with the hassle and those who steal know how to get around it.
Personally I think it only increases problems when you keep putting obstacles in their way. You are always doing to have a certain percentage who steal. How about finding a way to reward those who make an honest purchase? Its all so backwards. People love perks, thats one reason they moved to DVD's as it had benefits over VHS. If you make it more of a hassle we won't buy.

Any measure designed against bad guys is, or could be an inconvenience to good guys. The problem is to find the right balance. All the loss caused by shoplifting will be transferred to higher retail prices or other forms to honest buyers. I don't see any difference between a small magnetic metal foil and a tiny silicon chip on the matter.

Is it possible for the chips to accidentally reactivate themselves after they have been deactived? or would the chip b destroyed after the purchase has been approved?

This is why I buy off the Internet.

I'm fed up with an 18 year old depressed emo worker at Woolworths forgetting to de-activate the annoying RFID tag, then having Lance, the 6ft 8 inch, security guard come over and frisk me.

lol, well at least with this, you'll make it home without having being frisked, and all you'd have to do is come back, show them your receipt, and let them fix it for you.

SimpleRules said,
This is why I buy off the Internet.

I'm fed up with an 18 year old depressed emo worker at Woolworths forgetting to de-activate the annoying RFID tag, then having Lance, the 6ft 8 inch, security guard come over and frisk me.

normally i dont get the security guard, i just walk back to the counter and tell them kindly to deactivate the tag.

usually its the wal mart old lady greeter as well.

this could easily be circumvented with the chip using some kind of cryptography, having to have a key be entered to be unlocked.

also, this is meant to stop casual shop lifters, not the mafia. A normal junkie/teenager/old lady out to steal a DVD would a) not go through the hazzle(sp?) and b) would consider stealing the 'register' to much of a risk(big, located near store personel).

Theft will always have it's hindrances, but thieves will always find a way around them. It would only be a matter of time before off the shelf ways to activate these chips become available. The simplest and easiest way to reduce the theft of movies is to increase features and quality of DVDs while also lowering their prices enough to make overall cost(main reason for many pirates), as well as time spent acquiring, compared to downloads and bootlegs no longer an issue.

The sticky labels which go off at security gates occasionally are bad enough. At least then they just rescan your purchase to deactivate it. Now we'll probably have the same, but now when it hasn't been scanned properly you'll be at home before you find out it wasn't done.

Most DVD shops in the UK keep the DVD's out on display on the store floor. Games however, due to their higher value are kept outwith the case.

Even more reason to just download movies for free off torrents. Same quality without the hassle of being treated like a criminal when you buy something.

From the looks of it, it's not treating the customers like a thief, it's only treating the real thieves as they are. I don't see anything in there at all that says it disables you from uploading your DVDs to your computer. It just talks about not allowing them to WORK unless purchased. If you're stealing DVDs and other crap from stores, you're a f--king lowlife.

I'm for this idea.

Dakkaroth said,
From the looks of it, it's not treating the customers like a thief, it's only treating the real thieves as they are. I don't see anything in there at all that says it disables you from uploading your DVDs to your computer. It just talks about not allowing them to WORK unless purchased. If you're stealing DVDs and other crap from stores, you're a f--king lowlife.

I'm for this idea.

EXACTLY not allowing them to WORK unless purchased.. as in physical copies..

Everyone will still be able to buy the disc, and rip them with DVDShrink or something.. The only thing this will prevent is counterfeits of actual DVDs, which even then, why bother trying to counterfeit it, if you can just rip then re-burn

phiberoptik said,

EXACTLY not allowing them to WORK unless purchased.. as in physical copies..

Everyone will still be able to buy the disc, and rip them with DVDShrink or something.. The only thing this will prevent is counterfeits of actual DVDs, which even then, why bother trying to counterfeit it, if you can just rip then re-burn


No, you're missing the point. This won't stop just any DVD from working. All DVDs without chips will work no problem. This will only stop DVDs that have the chips on them and haven't been deactivated from working.

This technology isn't so foolproof as they think, if I understood the article correctly:

A thin coating that blocks a DVD player from reading critical information on the disc must also be added along with the chip

I think it means that only the index, ie, the inner circle of the disc is covered with the material, not the entire disc. So it means that a hardware player won't know what's in the disk, the file, their names, sizes, location, etc. Yes, that information is indeed critical, because without it the player won't be able to see the disc. But remember, the actual data part of the disc is still readable.

If you're playing it in a PC, all you have to do is open IsoBuster, and use the "Search for lost files" option :)

Trust me, it works. I purchased a few, really cheap discs and burned them. After a couple of weeks, a part of the inner circle actually got peeled away, but the rest of the disc was still intact. Windows wouldn't read the disc of course, but IsoBuster was able to! The only loss was that I lost my file names, but for a DVD this shouldn't be problem - we all know what the files are named anyways :)

One could also modify a drive to ignore the index and just get the raw data off the disc. Then you could run a simple signature-based file recovery software and extract the files :P

Dakkaroth said,
From the looks of it, it's not treating the customers like a thief, it's only treating the real thieves as they are.

Who do think is going to foot the bill for this protection? The thieves? Or the honest customer?

Why are the makers of DVD's getting involved in store security anyway?

kravex said,

Who do think is going to foot the bill for this protection? The thieves? Or the honest customer?

Why are the makers of DVD's getting involved in store security anyway?

Your right. Why not just keep everything the same for the next thousands of years and not give a rats ass about the small businesses that try to make an honest living?

Seriously though, throughout time, there will NEED to be improvements. Shooting down a new idea for improving security, not just on DISCS, but on other things as well, doesn't make much sense if you ask me.