The analog hole (aka, the analog loophole) is a crucial threat to any attempt at content and copy protection in media. By leveraging the analog hole, you can effectively remove Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection from encrypted media files, like music or movies. 

The analog hole refers to the final link in any video or audio transmission, which must – by its very nature – always arrive in analog form: the sound that reaches the human ear, or the light that reaches the human eye.

Even if media is kept completely secure up to the point where it appears on a screen and played on a speaker, from that point onward it can always be re-captured using a good video camera and microphone.

Because of the analog hole, hard DRM can never guarantee that content will not be pirated

However, hard DRM does have its place as part of a comprehensive approach to content protection. 

Strong DRM attempts to prevent casual or accidental copying and sharing of content – but a dedicated attacker can always bypass the DRM, using the analog hole.

While DRM is inherently vulnerable to this threat, there is hope: by combining traditional DRM with session-based forensic watermarking and decentralised leak detection using blockchain technology, online media pirates can be positively identified, and may be criminally liable for bypassing your content protection.

The combination of DRM, watermarking and bitcoin bounties: a powerful piracy deterrent

Decentralized DRM does not need to attempt to force end-users not to share their content, because it places an incentive on them that is meant to outweigh any incentive they would have to share the content.

That incentive comes in the form of a unique bitcoin bounty, embedded in the patented blockchain-based forensic watermarks, created by Custos. 

The team at Custos also constantly scans the public web and dark web for protected content that could be leaked, and cultivates a community of “bounty hunters” that can find pirated content in the hard-to-reach corners of the internet, notifying us of infringements by claiming the cryptocurrency bounties embedded in the patented watermarks.

READ MORE: The Future of DRM and Content Protection: Decentralized Leak Detection

The disincentive, particularly, is the probability-weighted expectation of being caught multiplied by the ‘cost’ to them if they were caught (see the Custos white paper on the economics of piracy). If this outweighs the potential gain they could get from leaking the content, they are unlikely to do it.

The majority of leaks of mainstream media come from what should be trusted parties – industry insiders and competition judges – rather than from nefarious hackers.

These individuals stand to lose their careers if caught, which makes this a powerful disincentive.

This post includes an excerpt from our latest whitepaper, Why Watermarking is not Enough: How Blockchain Technology can be Used to Stop Online PiracyClick here to download your free copy today.