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Can the paparazzi survive in a world of DRM?

Recent discussion has shown that there are a few who think they can identify certain places -- movie theatres, for instance -- and ask devices within that place to, say, not ring audibly. Some have built Faraday wood, isolating the outside electronic world from within.

I propose a device that allows individuals to state their preference regarding their public "image", so to speak; those who don't mind being filmed without permission (potential actors, for instance) could purchase a small radio-responsive device indicating their willingness. Introduce a forced blurring function into the camera for the likeness of those not indicating otherwise, and now Digital Rights Management serves the purpose of protecting my likeness from media attention, if the manufacturers were to comply.

This aspect of DRM provides a mechanism for controlling the "spotlight" effect of public fame -- where one's life becomes public for all who care to see. Requiring media organizations to honor this DRM (industry-wide Macrovision, so to speak) protects the concerned citizen from media exposure without their explicit consent, provided in person or electronically.

Combined with a modified Creative Commons "attribution" license, I can indicate that I prefer to receive a copy of any media in which I participate, unwitting or not. Sometimes it's not feasible, but if I was worth taping, I'd like to see too -- currently there's no way to indicate that.

With limits stated by individuals and the cameras required by law to run DRM, privacy is honored in a way that it cannot be guaranteed today. At what cost? The crowd may have a few blurred faces in the family's Disneyland vacation videos.

The technological possibility to do this seems within reason, given the presence of face-identifying cameras -- and sometimes I just want to control distribution. The benefit to individuals seems a remarkable gain for such a cost.

Note: I thought of a recent photo Cory took of me; it's a wonderful shot, I've given a Kinko's print of it to my mother. It's the first good picture we've had of me in years. Thank you!

Link: Microsoft Research, camera zapper.


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