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Topic: Anti-piracy options for podcasts? (Read 4574 times) previous topic - next topic
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Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

EDIT: Had a bit of a look around and there's ID3 tagging, DRM or stenography which could work... ideas?


I've got a few ideas to try and sell (for a very cheap price) a few podcasts. It may or may not work, but will be worth a try.

However the big problem that I've been thinking about is how I would go about stopping people from simply downloading the podcast and either:

A) sharing it with their friends, or
B) uploading or sharing it through bittorrent

By streaming the mp3/podcast online it'll reduce a fair bit of piracy, but people will most likely want to download their own copy. After a bit of brainstorming I thought of a few options:

1) Create some kind of software to stop copying of the mp3's (though very hard to do and yeah very complicated)
2) Do something like Apple does with iTunes. Does anyone know exactly what they use to help prevent piracy?
3) Embed in real-time some personal data of the customer/user into the podcast... so that they will be very reluctant to share or upload it.

Option 3 is looking like the best one so far. Although then it will be a matter of working out which personal data can be verified and put into the podcast. e.g. putting their credit card number in there would be preferable, but won't go down too well

Then there's the HOW would be the best way to embed it into the mp3/podcast...

* Because if it is simply added on the front or end, then someone can simply remove those sections.
* If it's added over parts of the podcast/mp3 then it will sound bad and remove parts of the audio.

> Is there a way to actually embed information into an mp3, so that the information cannot be heard, but through a couple of techniques the information can be retrieved?

So which protection measure (or combination of measures) do you think would work best in this situation?

In over my head, maybe, cheers.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #1
Honestly, if Apple can't stop it and the RIAA can't, I doubt you'll find any good way of stopping it.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #2
People got too much time on their hands 

The right to free communication far outweighs any other little benefits that could arise from such a system.
The object of mankind lies in its highest individuals.
One must have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #3
If it can be played back, then it can be recorded.

Forget selling copies, this system is broken. There are 4 ways to reliably make money without relying on the mentioned broken system: sell services, sell originals, donations, payback via non-monetary consumer-contribution. There are probably additional ways possible which haven't been explored yet.
I am arrogant and I can afford it because I deliver.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #4
As has been pointed out, there isn't a good way to do this that people won't be able to get around very easily.

But beyond that, I think if this is the type of business model you're betting on, then you simply don't understand the market, and should probably rethink your approach from stage 1.  Sharing this kind of stuff is really the whole point behind its existence, and certainly the reason for its popularity.

FWIW, I personally wouldn't even bother with a podcast that had option 1-3 that you listed.  Certainly not 3 -- in that case, I'd probably go out of my way to tell other people to avoid it even.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #5
> Is there a way to actually embed information into an mp3, so that the information cannot be heard, but through a couple of techniques the information can be retrieved?

Steganography allows you to do that with images and I am sure if can be done with other types files including audio.  Usually with an image it involves shifting the most significant bits, etc. In the context of audio or video it would have to do with quantization noise, etc I am guessing.  I thought Apple used a digital watermarking scheme? yes? is this purely scientific? or are we anaylzing this from a business perspective? it's probably not worth the time and the energy if this applies to the second  . One of my coding problems here deals with simple encryption I might not get around to that though 
budding I.T professional

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #6
Well what I will be *trying* to sell won't so much be podcasts, but rather audio recordings... so in the same sort of fashion, but not weekly updates etc

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #7
Well what I will be *trying* to sell won't so much be podcasts, but rather audio recordings... so in the same sort of fashion, but not weekly updates etc
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=335859"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It doesn't really matter much either way.

Treating potential customers as theives is really the same problem the music/movie industry is having right now.  They haven't figured out that there's a huge market out there, it just doesn't work the same way it used to.

If you want low cost, easy distrubtion of goods, you have to pay the price of those goods also being highly susceptible to sharing and duplication.  Instead of trying to fight it, you should spend more time worrying about how to make it work in your favor (e.g., viral marketing, etc.).

If you have a good product to sell, and you treat your customers with dignity, I think you'll find you'll make more money than you would piddling around with poorly hatched DRM-ish schemes.  But YMMV...

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #8
Treating potential customers as theives is really the same problem the music/movie industry is having right now.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=335870"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Reminds me about an older discussion where i wrote something about how dogma works: if you tell your customers that they would be evil without rules in place, then they will be evil if the rules fail. Or in other words: treat them as thieves and they will behave like thieves.

I can think of 4 scenarios in which business happens:

1. You have a monopoly or quasi-monopoly on the reproduction, but there are competitors with similiar products
In that case you logically can make money by selling copies. If unallowed reproduction can easily (meaning: cost-effective) detected and persecuted, then you can also play the iron-fist game(tread your customers like bandits who need to be ruled). Since there are competitors, your fate will depend on price, service-quality and marketing. This is the classical scenario.

2. You have a monopoly or quasi-monopoly on the kind of product, but no reliable grip on the reproduction
In that case you can make money with selling originals alone, because competition will be so low that the sales of the originals alone will make enough profit.

3. You have a monopoly on the reproduction as well as the kind of product.
Jackpot, unless you intentionally screw up, you cannot go wrong.

4. You neither have a reliable grip on the reproduction nor a monopoly on the kind of product
Your customers rule your fate. You have no other choice than being nice to your customers, do a good job, and encourage(not annoy!) them to be fair and reward you out-of-free-will. Making it easy for them to "play fair" may also help. Your market-postion relative to your competition will mostly depend on the quality of your *services*, extra-features, marketing, and how you treat your customers. What you sell in this case is NOT the product.... its something else.
I am arrogant and I can afford it because I deliver.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #9
Here's the breakdown:

Trying to protect your work from sharing:
-is technically impossible,
-makes things much harder for end users who want to use your work in legitimate ways,
-alienates a lot of potential customers.

Relying on the customers to pay you for your work:
-doesn't alienate them,
-means you'll have to put up with some sharing,
-makes the resulting income highly dependant on the quality and professionalism of your work.

Now, nobody wants to steal material that sucks. So for starters, we'll assume that people actually want to listen to your work here.

Assuming that they do, then you also have to assume that the people listening to it like you and are not out to delibrately screw you over. This means they will pay you if the price is reasonable and the content is good and if you ask nicely.

That's the whole thing right there. I mean, think about it. Making content nowadays is easy. Making quality content is not quite as easy. But getting well known is very tricky indeed. Sharing of your works promotes knowledge of them, possibly gaining new subscribers.

I mean, let's say I'm a subscriber. I like your stuff. I think a friend of mine might like your stuff. I send it to him. If he likes it, he checks out other stuff by you, and eventually subscribes. You gained a new customer. If there's any difficulty at all in this process, he might give up or not bother, moving to easier things instead.

Now, that argues against DRM as a whole. You also asked about tags and steganography.

Steganography is hard to do properly. You also probably don't have the processor power to do it if your content becomes popular. I'd skip considering this method.

Adding tags on a per customer basis is relatively simple to do, more or less. A clever php script serving up those files to people from your server could even add them as they download the files, if you wanted. This is light weight and simple to do, and I have no problem with it as such. However, tags are easily removed. And what happens if you do find some customer sharing your content? Again, shared content tends to lead to more subscribers, not less. You may be thinking that you're not getting paid for that content, and you're not, directly. However, you are "growing the brand" and you're doing so for free. Those people who will go to the effort of stealing your content instead of paying a reasonable price is very small. And if you find that the content is widely stolen, well then maybe the price is unreasonably high.

Look at iTunes, 99 cents seems to be a good price point for them. Yes, you have your critics, but in the relatively short time iTunes has been around, it's outperformed every other music store out there. The DRM is still hurting them in the long run, IMO, but then it's not their content and they don't have much of a choice but to use DRM methods.

One other thing that you might not have thought of is that if this is a real "podcast" and not just you selling audio files, then it'll be using an RSS feed. That RSS feed will most likely be automatically generated, and it's somewhat trivial to have security there, such that the RSS feed is available to subscribers only. This does nothing for sharing of the downloaded content, but it is a way for people to pay for a podcast.

Might want to rethink exactly what you're trying to protect. Protecting the content is not necessarily protecting your revenue stream.

Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #10
Ah k, yep... I think DRM is a bad choice then.

I would still like to use some kind of stenography if possible though... I'll have a play around with it and see how much effort/processing power it uses. I wouldn't want to put a massive string right through the entire mp3, just a relatively short number setp, perhaps at the start (and maybe in the middle).

Anyone know of some good stenography programs... or any info which would allow me to create a program to work in real-time online?


Anti-piracy options for podcasts?

Reply #11
The only Mp3 Steganography program I know of is MP3Stego:

The problem with using this for such a task is that MP3Stego is basically a modified encoder. Having to reencode the file from WAV for every user is very processor intensive, not something you really want to do in real time.

I don't know of any stego programs that can modify a MP3 directly, which would be the ideal way to do that sort of thing.