Forensics techniques used for copy-protection?

An anti-piracy fingerprinting technology for identifying illegally copied CDs and DVDs has been developed by a company specializing in the forensic analysis of bullets. Intelligent Automation of Rockville, Maryland has applied ballistic techniques to the growing problem of pirating CDs, DVDs and CD-ROMs on an industrial scale. The company hopes to sell the technology, which is still in development, to pro-copyright industry consortia like the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, police departments and movie and record companies.

“It allows you to identify the source so you can go after them,” said Joseph Schwartz, Intelligent Automation’s CEO. Intelligent Automation claims its DiskPrint technology identifies the unique “fingerprint” of each and every optical disc, which can be used to link the disk with the plant and even the machine that made it.

In the same way a bullet fired from a gun is etched with a unique pattern of imperfections found on the inside of the barrel — and can be used to identify guns used in crimes — DiskPrint detects a pattern of microscopic imperfections created during the disk’s manufacture. CD factories typically stamp optical disks — much like the body panels of cars. The stamping process leaves a pattern of microscopic marks on the surface that uniquely identifies the stamping machine.

Benjamin Bachrach, Intelligent Automations’ senior scientist, said the DiscPrint system uses a laser sensor to build a 3-D map of the surface of the disk, looking for the unique pattern of imprints. “The stamping plate has some imperfections that are involuntarily transferred to the CD itself,” he said. “Just like a bullet fired from a gun.”

Bachrach said that, unlike other coding technologies, the pattern of imprints can’t be tampered with, erased or falsified. According to Schwartz, the system is the first to provide a definitive link between a disk and its source. Not only can it be used in court to establish proof of criminal copying, it can tell investigators whether a disk has been illegally copied in the first place.

Soon we’ll be giving DNA samples when we purchase new DVD players…

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