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Security Technology

A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft 435

Posted by samzenpus
from the chip-the-children dept.
Dieppe writes "A simple chip added to a DVD disk could prevent retail theft. According to the AP article at MSNBC, the chip would be activated at the register to make a previously dark area of the DVD clear, and therefore readable. Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate $400 million dollars in losses from brick and mortar stores? Game console DVDs could also be protected this way too. Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?"
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A Chip on DVDs Could Prevent Theft

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:50PM (#19062011)
    It's not theft! It's copyright infring... oh wait.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by penguinoid (724646)
      Indeed, that was my first thought. I'm glad to see that they are doing something positive for a change. And yes, it should lower the markup on the DVD's because they don't need to recoup their (real world physical) losses due to theft. I just hope that they haven't added something sneaky in there too.
      • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:27PM (#19062325) Homepage Journal
        This "protection mechanism" will be broken, just like every other one has been. If it only need to be activated, professional criminals will have access to the tools necessary to activate the DVD player. It will be useless and only aggravate the life of the consumer, so it will come and go just like other protection systems.
        • by OECD (639690)

          This "protection mechanism" will be broken, just like every other one has been.

          I think you're confusing inventory control (which is what this is) with copyright infringement.

          Assuming that this works as described, this is a good thing. Markup from stolen discs is a real cost factor, not to mention the markup from excessive packaging that is the only real deterent we have now.

          However, I just don't think they'll be able to resist the opportunity to add some sort of anti-copying tech in there, if only to ti

          • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:52PM (#19062553) Homepage Journal
            I wasn't confused. The mechanisms are strikingly similar, though. The chip is activated at the register and the DVD is now readable. Professional thieves will have access to the method of activation because that's what they do. Thieves have tools related to their trade. Steal a set of DVDs just like you always did, activate them, and sell them (or, more likely steal them and fence them to a man who has the tools). It will stop the theft of DVDs for only about 15 minutes, all the while introducing another level of complexity and failure into the legal purchase process.
            • by OECD (639690) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:08AM (#19062679) Journal

              (or, more likely steal them and fence them to a man who has the tools)

              Hmm. You're probably right. This will likely only deter the most casual of thiefs, and annoy many more paying customers (who would then feel completely justified in D/Ling the CD.)

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by digitalchinky (650880)
                Theft aside, how could this possibly inconvenience paying customers when it is done a single time while paying for it? I don't get the logic? Maybe the customer is inconvenienced for the few seconds it takes to activate it, but how does this really matter?

                It's not an anti-piracy measure, it's an anti-theft system just like the summary says. I think it'd inconvenience store owners more than anyone else. They'll probably be left footing the bill for the hardware.
                • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @03:24AM (#19063849) Homepage
                  There's been a number of occasions when I've bought stuff and the staff have forgotten to remove the security tags or they haven't been deactivated properly. At the moment that only means you might set off the alarm on the way out of the store or in other stores but with this system it may mean you get home and find the DVD is unplayable which means a trip back to the store for a replacement.
                  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @04:41AM (#19064255)
                    Which isn't going to be particularly easy if you meet a clerk who is under the impression that the deactivation process is 100% perfect and the only way you could possibly have a DVD which is unreadable is because you stole it.
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Nosklo (815041)

                      Which isn't going to be particularly easy if you meet a clerk who is under the impression that the deactivation process is 100% perfect and the only way you could possibly have a DVD which is unreadable is because you stole it.
                      That's why you keep your bill (yes that tiny paper they give you when you purchase something) so you can prove you bought it.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Opportunist (166417)
                  how could this possibly inconvenience paying customers

                  By not working. Never had a DVD that didn't play in your DVD player, despite the claims of the manufacturer that "every DVD player can read their copy protection"? Never had a game not work because some shoddy copy protection mechanism wasn't compatible with your CD/DVD-ROM drive?
                • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday May 10, 2007 @05:41AM (#19064547) Homepage Journal
                  Is there something wrong with the current system of sticking the little white plastic thing on the box that sets of an alarm if it's not disabled?

                  I admit that I don't do a lot of shopping for media in brick'n'mortar stores, but the last time I did, they had this seemingly elegant system for theft control.

                  I don't see how this new "chip on a disc" system is a revolutionary improvement.
              • This whole idea is a misunderstanding of basic economics. The price of anything is based on the maximum price the seller can sell it for while maximizing the number of items sold. Basically, the cost of producing goods has nothing to do with what they are sold for. You first determine the most money you can make by selling an item, then you decide if the profit margin is thick enough for you. If you determine that people wont pay enough to make up the cost of the item you don't sell it. If you find out they will pay what it costs and then some you will almost certainly sell it.

                It's that simple. Theft and fraud do not bring the price of goods up. When shopping carts are stolen from the supermarket it does not raise the cost of food. If they could have possibly raised the price before they would have already done it. Theft cuts into profits but it absolutely does not raise the price for the consumer.
            • by Squalish (542159)
              "Professional thieves" will not be eliminated... but the hordes of casual shoplifters who think a fence is something that they have to jump over to escape the security guard occasionally, will be. It has the same effect as keeping empty boxes on the shelves and the merch behind locked glass - which is annoying and hopelessly impractical for a large department on something as diverse as DVDs.

              OTOH... at this point it wouldn't be technically difficult to establish a theftproof print-on-demand DVD(or bluray) m
            • by nacturation (646836) <nacturation @ g m ail.com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @02:31AM (#19063565) Journal

              It will stop the theft of DVDs for only about 15 minutes, all the while introducing another level of complexity and failure into the legal purchase process.
              I don't think that's the real reason. Retailers are already on the hook for any "slippage" that occurs in their inventory. Why should the studio get involved since they're compensated regardless? What this will do is prevent the return of any movies. Now when you purchase it the cashier will have to remove the shrinkwrap, peel off those "security stickers" along the edges, open the case, remove the DVD, activate it, and then give you the now-opened product. Good luck returning that one as I doubt they'll re-sticker and shrinkwrap it for you.

              And if they ever do introduce this and you really want to protest it, you can take a bunch of DVDs to the cashier, watch as they activate all of them, then tell them you've changed your mind and no longer wish to purchase them.
               
        • Just steal one of the machines that activates this DVD's.
      • by Domo-Sun (585730) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:29PM (#19062359) Journal
        it should lower the markup on the DVD's because they don't need to recoup their (real world physical) losses due to theft.

        Isn't that what the record industry said when CD's came out?

        "The price will come down."

        Then, they changed it to, "Well, you're getting better quality. That's why CD's are so expensive."
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shmlco (594907)
          When CDs came out about two decades ago they were, what, $25-$30 at first? Now, after two decades of inflation, you can buy most of 'em at WalMart for $12-$16.

          The price did come down. The price stayed down when the price of nearly everything else doubled or tripled.

          Stop whinning.
          • by BootNinja (743040) <mack,mcneely&gmail,com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:34AM (#19062857) Homepage
            I don't know where you were buying your CDs, but I have never in my life paid that much money for a CD. Back when I was purchasing CDs regularly, say, 10-15 years ago, I was buying them for between 11 and 13. Today, the only place I see them for less than 15 is used.
            • If you are getting them at $15 today and $11 15 years ago - that difference is covered by inflation. Here check it out at this page:

              Calculate Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 1665-2012 [austintxgensoc.org]

              You'll find $11 in 1992 money is equal to just under $16 of 2007 money. So if you're paying $15 you are saving almost a whole 2007 dollar! See they weren't lying CDs ARE cheaper!

              (Actually a lot of places I see CDs for $17-$25 - although I don't know why anybody would by them there. Sam Goody are you listening?)
          • Not really (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zogger (617870)
            The actual complex machines that *play* CDs have dropped down to now you can get a new small one portable for like $9.99 or something, it certainly didn't double or triple in price. Shoot, portable video DVD players are like 50 bucks now.

            Nope, plastic disks with digital bits on them are being sold at tremendous cartel inflated hyper-gouging prices. And everyone and their cousin leroy knows that, hence why so little respect for the MAFIAA dons and their last century business models. The music and movie indus
  • by sam1am (753369) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:51PM (#19062023)
    Sounds like a sharpie might be useful...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Starburnt (860851)
      Looks like they've learned form their mistakes, the discs are dark to begin with and work when the darkness is removed. So you'll need liquid paper.
  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:51PM (#19062025) Journal
    Could this help to bring down the prices????? You HAVE to be kidding. That really is funny.
    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Strilanc (1077197) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:16PM (#19062223)
      A drop in the price isn't worth it. You know how every once in awhile someone walks out of the store and the alarm goes off because a cashier didn't deactivate a tag correctly? Imagine that happening, but you only find out after an hour-long drive home.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pipingguy (566974) *
        This has happened to me a few times (on the way into and out of stores, sometimes both) and it is really annoying. I carry a couple of RFID-enabled devices (building access cards/fobs) so I always wonder if some scanners' settings are set too high.

        Sometimes I enter a store and the alarm goes off - on the way out it doesn't, whether I've bought something or not.
    • "Could this help to stem the tide of the approximate $400 million dollars in losses from brick and mortar stores?"

      No.

      Well... Unless they find a way to completely break XViD/DiVX.

      • by alisson (1040324)
        What, other than DiVX sucking?

        I know people that use real-player. Nothing will stop people that really don't want to pay :)
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @04:40AM (#19064247) Journal
      Real question is: will it be a part of the next gen DRM?

      I mean, rhetoric about cutting down losses and all, well, it's good and fine. But here you have something that prevents a disc from being played, unless the correct key is sent to a chip. Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Pinky? Because I'm sure that someone at Sony just did. And if (ad absurdum) they didn't, then MS just did, in its quest to convince the MPAA and RIAA to make its own protection schemes the new entertainment centre standard.

      I mean, it's a no brainer. Make the disc revert to opaque after a while, and have to be re-activated. So every time it has to be played in an authorized player.

      As a bonus, it's got all the potential in the world to implement some other nasty roadblocks to fair use. E.g.,

      - region coding. No more just messing with the firmware to make other region DVDs play, the chips for different regions can be physically tuned to different frequencies.

      - killing the second-hand market for good. E.g., make the chip also contain a small flash area, just enough to hold the player's own key. The first time it's played, it stores the player's ID there, and subsequently refuses to activate on anything else. (Extra bonus: now you also need need to buy a new DVD each time you buy a new player.)

      - limits on how often you can play the DVD. Pretty trivial: the chip also contains a counter, and when that limit is reached, it can no longer be activated. In the video market it actually has actually a legitimate use: mail-order rentals where you don't actually have to bring it back. But imagine the fun when your next Windows version has such a chip, to stop all those pirates from installing one copy of Windows on 20 machines. (And incidentally also stop anyone from reinstalling it more than once or twice after their hard drive failed, or they got pwned by a virus, or whatever.)

      Etc.

      And unlike just encryption, some of these can be a much bigger pain in the rear to defeat.

      E.g., a counter on the chip can physically and irreversibly blow a tiny fuse for each time it's played. When it's out of fuses, that's it. There is no decryption key you can post on Digg or print on a t-shirt, that will bypass a physically destroyed circuit.

      E.g., the chip doesn't need to be reprogrammable from outside in any form or shape. So there's no way to just crack its firmware to make it stay transparent. In fact, at that size and given that you want the absolute minimum power consumption, it doesn't need a firmware at all. It can simply be hard-wired.

      Downside, there are physical ways to attack it, such as replacing the chip or marinating the disc in some chemical that neutralizes the dye. Both are a far bigger pain in the arse for Jack Sixpack than just downloading a cracked driver or firmware. I don't see Jack drilling holes and inserting micro-chips that gladly. Plus, it requires buying something tangible, such as a replacement chip, which is easier to trace and prosecute than an offshore warez site.
  • Sorta cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:53PM (#19062029) Journal
    As long as I can still back up my DVD's to my HDD and then view them off my own burned DVD's, I don't care what they do!

    You try keeping your daughter from destroying those Disney DVD's that are only released once a few decades!

    • Re:Sorta cool (Score:5, Informative)

      by networkBoy (774728) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:15AM (#19062713) Homepage Journal
      Mine did.
      When I contacted Disney about a replacement disk at cost (not retail) I was told "tough shit". When I pointed out that had they not used rip-guard and other countermeasures to me making a backup, and as such I expected them to make a good faith effort to replace my damaged disk, they said "tough shit, buy a new one". When I pointed out that the disk was over a year old and out of production, they said "tough shit, try e-bay". So I did and I found a really inexpensive (Chinese "overrun") authentic disk.
      See if I buy Disney media anything ever again, it's off to TPB and netflix + anydvd + dvd decrypter.

      Back onto the topic at hand, TFA mentions that this tech is applicable to other products as well, I wonder how soon till the regularly missed activation gets consumers pissed about coming back, and gets the customer service reps numb to the issue, such that freshly pilfered merchandise can be activated at the customer service desk rather than the register?

      One of my mates worked at Office Depot. Someone stole a display computer, walked it over to the service desk, made up some bogus issue with the ($2000) PC, balked at the estimate, and carried "their" PC out the door, with the staff holding the door for them!
      Same thing will happen with this tech.
      -nB
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hjf (703092)

        See if I buy Disney media anything ever again, it's off to TPB and netflix + anydvd + dvd decrypter.
        Or you could skip disney altogether, and buy the pirate version. You see, disney gets some money from the rental, so they're not really "losing". On the other hand, if you buy the pirate version, disney gets nothing. IMHO, you have the moral right to do that, I mean, they screwed you? Well, you screw them too. 'Nuff said.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by trevorgensch (185962)
          Of you could actually try and instill some sense of respect in your kids for DVDs. Not only Disney ones, but your entire collection. My kids have been properly shown from the get-go how to treat DVDs so they don't get wrecked.

          It amazes me that people expect something for next to nothing if they wreck the one they have. "Sorry, I scratched my new car, can I have a new one at cost?"

          Education is the best tool.
          • by devilspgd (652955) *
            Ahh but CD/DVDs are different -- You are licensing the content rather then buying the product.

            Another way to look at it, if you scratch your car, you can have just the part you scratched replaced. With a DVD, you cannot purchase the media independently of the license (and the license is the expensive part)

            It would be nice if you could buy a replacement for the actual product cost, without the license, but it's too much hassle with little ROI for the company.

            In the mean time, use your fair-use rights, make
  • No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aichpvee (631243)
    It won't help, people will just find a way to do the activation themselves at home. Just like they have with all the electronic security measures. What's for damn sure is that even if it worked (it won't) it won't do anything to lower prices. They've already got us hooked like junkies at the prices they're charging and there's no way they'll lower them until demand drops off.
    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:57PM (#19062075)
      "It won't help, people will just find a way to do the activation themselves at home. Just like they have with all the electronic security measures."

      A thwartable scheme doesn't mean that it's 100% useless. Consider how easy it is to prevent fingerprints from being left behind, yet they're captured all the time.
      • That's because most people aren't actually trying to keep their fingerprints from being left behind. If I made effort and my fingerprints were captured, anyway, then I'd be concerned.

        I have to agree with the general opinion here; this isn't going to help protect against piracy, nor is it going to bring prices down (after all, you're paying for a "secure experience," right?) And a lot of piracy occurs when people who have legitimately bought a copy decide to share it, which means absolutely nothing will ha
        • by devilspgd (652955) *
          This isn't piracy related at all, it's just plain and simple old-skool theft prevention.
        • by Shihar (153932)
          This is absolutely ZERO to do with piracy. This is a scheme to prevent good old fashion 'slide the DvD into your pants and walk out' theft. You could still buy the DvD and go home and rip and copy it.

          The point of any security measure is not to be invulnerable. If invulnerability is all you will settle for, get out now. It doesn't exist. The point is to increase the cost/risk/time it takes to beat the system (whatever that system might be). In this case, it means that if you want to steal a DvD you ca
    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:08PM (#19062161) Homepage Journal
      You fail to account for human stupidity and laziness. And shoplifters are plenty stupid IMO, very bad risk/payoff there, and too lazy to get a job. I'm pretty sure the chip requires some equipment to deactivate. Would you buy something so you can deactivate chips on the DVD's you stole?
      • The chip in question is an RFID chip that sends out an electrical pulse to cause a chemical changes that makes the DVDs clear. I'm pretty sure that this will turn out to be easy to defeat. The solution will probably involve a half second in a microwave or exposure to an alternating magnetic field or something along those lines.
  • Copy protection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:54PM (#19062049) Journal
    $10 bucks say they try to find a way to add copy protection into the chip as well.
  • Hahahah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:55PM (#19062057)
    "Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?"

    No, but it could raise the profit margin.

  • End the sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:57PM (#19062073)
    I magically know how these end, dunno why, so I filled in the gaps for all of you:

    A simple chip added to a DVD disk COULD prevent retail theft, but won't.
    Game console DVDs COULD also be protected this way too, but won't.
    COULD this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies? It won't.


    Bottom line is, apparently on Slashdot you can substitute "could" with "won't" and you get to read the actual material we're handed. Cut down the pointless speculation guys, it's lame.
  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935)
    So not only will there be motivation to steal DVDs, but also the activator as well. Bravo.
    • by Sj0 (472011)
      Actually, you say that and it makes me wonder if the larger part of lossage is caused by organised crime. It doesn't matter how many protection devices you put in place if the folks who are just going to resell the stolen goods at full price can just buy or steal the same machine for themselves.
  • Could it help bring prices down? Umm no if anything manufacturers would inflate the cost and pass it on to consumers.
  • Preemptive Strike! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj_tla (1048764) <trbekolay@shEULERaw.ca minus math_god> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:01PM (#19062101) Homepage Journal
    Article should read At home, using a cheap Chinese device, the chip is activated and sends an electrical pulse through the coating, turning it clear and making the disc playable.
    China thanks you for creating another black market for it to thrive in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by normuser (1079315) *
      Who needs China?
      It sounds like some winding wire, a piece of cardboard, and a flash circuit will do.
      i.e. fold the cardboard over like to make a cd mailer. tape the sides and wind the wire around it leaving the end open so you can insert / remove the disk. then charge the flash circuit and dump its capacitor through the winding wire.
      Now where to get an non activated disk to play with?
  • by straponego (521991) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:02PM (#19062115)
    Oh yeah. That's what they're working on. They got a dozen guys on it. They got 'em working in shifts!

    /me wanders off, cackling

  • Why steal retail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fugu (99277) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:03PM (#19062117)
    Wouldn't it just be easier to download the movie instead of risking getting caught shoplifting? =p
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by laffer1 (701823)
      And apparently I might have to do that. Currently, when I buy a DVD at the local best buy or any other store the people are too lazy to deactivate the anti-theft device. That means the alarm always goes off making me look like a thief, wasting my time as they search my bag and so on. Now instead of just being annoying, I'll get home and my DVD won't play! Then I have to go to the store and bitch them out costing more money in gas. Are they trying to get me to download the shit?

      I'm really sick of this s
    • Unfortunately bandwidth isn't that cheap everywhere (Australia for example)... shoplifting is a fairly easy target (Yes I used to do it quite extensivly). The only thing you have to worry about is leaving fingerprints and a video. With the internet there is much much more as every node is different and you can't control them all...
    • Re:Why steal retail? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by adona1 (1078711) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:29PM (#19062365)
      Absolutely not. Some of us prefer to have a physical media, a printed cover, DVD extras and the like. I can't be having with any of this fiddling with codecs, badly burnt discs, questionable quality...and above all, the illegality. Downloading a film deprives the studios, the actors and the crews involved in making a film.

      So that's why I always steal the DVDs from stores :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Asmandeus (640419)
      A large amount of the people who steal retail DVDs (box sets are a big target;small and expensive) are drug addicts and this is how they pay for their habit.

      Now a bit more on topic...
      The thief will just fence the stolen DVDs and be on his or her merry way to buy whatever drug of choice. Most likely the fence would be a pawn shop. What's to stop this pawn shop from getting a hold of one of these devices? If the pawn shop isn't eligible to obtain one, then they have two options: Steal one or package th
  • by wtfbbq (1097721) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:05PM (#19062141)
    No, people that steal wouldn't buy if they couldn't steal. The price of the dvd themselves + the burning is very cheap and the theft is really only worth the physical amount. People that steal likely aren't going to be buying if they couldn't steal. If they can't steal physically they will turn to downloading or getting a blockbuster membership and turn to ripping/burning. If anything, this added ability will just make the checkout lines in Best Buy take longer. Oh, it will also increase the production costs and the machine that will 'validate' the dvd will likely INCREASE the cost. I'm not an endorser of people stealing, but I doubt this would have anything but a negative effect. Hell, if the 'validation' fails 1 outta 100 times the whole system will likely collapse and it will just be a huge waste of money.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      People that steal likely aren't going to be buying if they couldn't steal.

      You've obviously never known any shoplifters. In my experience, most do it for the thrill, or simply because they can, not because they can't afford to or wouldn't pay for something.

      At any rate, yes, it doesn't cost much to manufacture a disc, but the retailer pays 2-4 times that. Also, the retailer paid for real estate to put the product on, paid for the lighting so you can see what you're buying, paid for the air conditioning so y
  • We are pleased to announce that all our new DVDs will be rendered theft-proof by the new on-disk chip enhancement. Thanks to our new ultra-efficient disk manufacturing plant on Guadalcanal, the extra charge for this service will not be more than $1.00 per disk...

    rj
  • the problem with this idea is that it assumes that people are stealing the movie because they want to get the movie without paying for it. While that probably represents some portion of the people who steal dvds, I would suspect that many others are stealing just to steal. Dvds tend to be out on the shelves in large quantities, so they are probably one of the easiest things to steal, and some people just wanna steal something.
  • ...the addition of this chip means you only have 48 hours to stick the DVD into your computer and run your DVD copier program.
  • I thought all the money they were losing was because of Pirates!
    I don't understand it. They put the chip in, and then a person buys it and the clerk activates it, and it will still make it onto the internet somehow.
    I wonder how much of the quoted $400 Mil are stolen from the inside...
  • Could this help to bring the prices down on DVD games and movies?

    I typically find that the DVD costs less than the soundtrack. Neither is likely to get cheaper.
  • You're talking about a cartel that engages in illegal price fixing, a cartel which uses the government to enforce their pathetic copy protection schemes, and EA. You'd have to be truly moronic to believe that anything short of the near death of an industry would lower prices.
  • Cop Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:14PM (#19062219) Homepage
    Retail theft of entertainment products, including video games, accounts for as much as $400 million in annual losses, according to the Entertainment Merchants Association.

    I just love those numbers. I'm much more concerned about the estimated $120 million in lost productivity resulting from time spent dealing with broken shoelaces, and the estimated $275 million in annual losses to people who are shortchanged by hot dog vendors.

    How about a moratorium on all numbers that were pulled out of a PR guy's ass?
    • by Sj0 (472011)
      Math pulled out of a PR guy's ass causes an estimated 90 trillion dollars in damage every year!
  • by Catcher80 (639611) * <catcher80&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:22PM (#19062261) Journal
    Well, there is a great idea in here somewhere. "A chip smaller than the head of a pin is placed onto a DVD along with a thin coating that blocks a DVD player from reading critical information on the disc. At the register, the chip is activated and sends an electrical pulse through the coating, turning it clear and making the disc playable." Wow.

    How long do you think it will take for these "DVD Decryption" devices, as it were, to hit the black market and for plans to be readily available on the internet?

    How about, a security device hidden on the DVD itself that will ALWAYS make the security device go off (electrical tape be damned) unless it's rung up at the register first? That would sound like a useful application to me. Come on... people will stop stealing just because they can't watch it? The basic principle of stealing/hacking/whatever is first and foremost "do it to see if you can" right? I can't imagine the inordinate amount of people who will laugh their asses off after stealing this worthless media content, if for no other reason just to piss off Wal*Mart or whoever. It's fun sticking it to the proverbial man.

    Another point, how many of you have bought a DVD or other related product, and gotten the hidden security device on it deactivated at the register, just to have to door alarm beep at you and you have to pull out your receipt to verify your purchase? How many people are going to make it out the door and to their homes, to discover their DVD wasn't REALLY activated at the register, before they figure out it's a bad idea? You think Wal*Mart is going to believe you when you come back in and say "Yes I bought this, no it wasn't activated for some reason" ? NO NO NO NO NO.

    There ARE some useful applications for this technology, oh yes, there are; however, I really think this one is quirky. Come on Corporate America.
    • You think Wal*Mart is going to believe you when you come back in and say "Yes I bought this, no it wasn't activated for some reason" ? NO NO NO NO NO.

      receipt?

  • by Gregory Cox (997625) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:30PM (#19062377)
    than putting an empty case on the shelf, and having the shop assistant put the DVD in the case/exchange it for a full case at the register? Is that too difficult for stores to do?
    • by Repton (60818)

      I was going to say that...

      Just about every CD/DVD retailer in New Zealand does that already.

  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:34PM (#19062411)
    Make it even more inconvenient to buy legitimate copies. That'll sure encourage people to buy them instead of resorting to piracy.
  • It must be magic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkabbe (631234) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:56PM (#19062585)
    I am sure that they can invent something that can be installed on a million cash registers in the United States but will be impossible to procure by any other means. Why didn't anyone else think of this earlier?
    • Yep. This has every sign of being somebody's get-rich-quick scheme. I say we wait for them to get all ready to put this in production, and then just shoot everybody involved in selling the deactivation devices, on the grounds that they are sleazy bastards.
  • Yeah, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:08AM (#19062673) Homepage
    Judging by how often the door alarm goes off, a chip being activated or deactivated at the register has a HIGH RATE OF FAILURE.
    • by Vegeta99 (219501)
      You actualy have an ALARM? Our walmart SPEAKS and asks you to wait for an associate. I've made it to my car once before a geriatric guard caught up to me out of breath to make sure that i hadn't stole what I just paid for?
  • Yeah right, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omahajim (723760) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:12AM (#19062703)
    That's like TicketBastard lowering their labor and distribution costs by allowing you to print tickets at home on your own printer, instead of having them mailed. But it costs the consumer *more* to print their own ticket at home (isn't it like $3 extra???) and mailing, which should cost them more, is no extra charge. What a racket.
  • shrinkage (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Well, if more retailers examined the footage closely, they would find that it's mostly the same kids stealing and a lot of them know people at the counter. In turn, people at the counter steal and encourage their friends to stop by and get the stuff they need. So retailers continue to pay shit wages to their workers, raise prices (like Borders) and workers continue to steal because they feel "justified". Until Netflix and bittorrent came along, the only people who lost were the consumers. Now it doesn't rea
  • by Artifex (18308) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:30AM (#19062821) Journal
    I suspect most loss is due to teenage or twentysomething clerks taking them out the back door. If you have a corrupt clerk with friends as partners, he or she is just as capable of activating the chip for a stack of discs before letting friends walk out, too.

  • Talkin' turkey (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @12:31AM (#19062825) Homepage Journal
    Bottom line: No, not at all.

    The people who shoplift are not your target market anyway, have no disposable income, probably are insignificant outside high crime area/high volume retail.

    It will cost money to develop the chip which will be passed on to consumers, and boosting the amount of money spent pressing each disk. Shops that do not buy the hardware to detect the chips will be losing money because the same volume of theft will occur but the real value of the otherwise worthless CD has been increased by the chip. The idea that money is actually being lost is an illusion created by the record companies who use flashy printing and threats to assign a huge price to what is really very cheap to produce per unit. There is a constant cost they incurred to make the album and then a continual advertising cost and pressing cost. The pressing cost is extremely low compared to the advertising cost but it is presented as being high. By charging outlets for theft they give outlets a reason to buy antitheft hardware. However the only thing the chips will really be useful for is DRM since once you have the chip on the disc the next step is to add a tag reader into all drives. It is another way to break the spec.
  • I Call Shinanigans (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j_kenpo (571930) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @01:36AM (#19063259)
    Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't it be in the retailers best interest to reduce shoplifting, and not Hollywoods? I mean, once a retailer purchases their product from a producer, its in their best interest to sell all purchased units, and when items get stolen, retailers have to jack up the price to make up for the loss. either way, Hollywood gets their money and the retail is the one SOL.

    That means the distributors are
    A: looking for excuses that their movies just plain suck and people aren't buying them as much and are looking for means to jack up product prices, and just plain full of shit
    B: Genuinely concerned about their business partners the retailers and want to get into new markets (as the article described)

    Or am I missing something? I'm not exactly on the front line of retail marketing.
  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @06:12AM (#19064645)
    I can guarantee that the first time I experienced getting home and popping in a DVD that had not been activated would be the last time I buy a DVD from a brick and mortar store. Possibly the last time I bought a DVD, period.

    I'm an honest person - I don't steal. I'm tired of being treated like a criminal, tired of being inconvenienced because some people are criminals, tired of the assumption being that I'm guilty. I'm tired of that fucking alarm going off when I walk out of a store and everyone looking at me like I'm a thief because the security tag wasn't deactivated. I'm tired of security guards at stores thinking they have a right to look through my bags. I'm tired of ruining my nails and cutting my fingers thanks to clamshell packaging.

    Wanna know how to reduce theft, increase sales and all without making people feel like scumbags? Change your fucking business model to one that addresses the needs consumers actually have. The fact that your store security is for shit is *NOT* *MY* *PROBLEM*. Will Best Buy give me a new stereo if someone breaks into my home and steals mine? No. So why should I pay when they get robbed?

    Here's an idea: Have machines at stores that hold spindles and spindles of DVDs and CDs. Have the customer swipe their credit card at the machine and select the movie they want, and then a pre-made DVD (for a "hot" new release) can be spit out, or, if it's something that's a little more obscure/rarely needed, it can be burnt on the spot. Don't have or want to use a credit card? No problem - just take a voucher from a display, go to the check-out line, pay with cash and the clerk can activate the code on the voucher - then the machine will give you what you want when you scan your ticket in.

    This would even let there be less packaging and waste. If someone wanted a special collector's edition with all the goodies, keep those in a secure spot and get them when needed.

    For small electronics, why not have vending machines like they do for iPods and cellphones now? It annoys me that I have to waste time getting a clerk to open up a cabinet just to get some $30 item I want - and it's a waste of their time, too.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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