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Commentary: Questions found regarding keystroke recognition

The strategy by digital content creators of using keystroke recognition to protect against piracy contains a couple of holes.

By Jackie Fenn and John Pescatore, Gartner Analysts

Gartner believes that this strategy by digital content creators to protect against piracy contains a couple of holes.

Although today most people must download music from computers with keyboards, Gartner believes that devices with keyboards are probably the least-likely place for people to listen to music. Besides dedicated MP3 players, other portable devices without keyboards are becoming more common, and some already include MP3 capability.

For example, Microsoft's Pocket PC

See news story:
The latest in anti-piracy efforts: keystroke recognition
has an MP3 player and can connect to the Internet, and smart phones are adding MP3 capability. Both types of devices are high-growth categories, and creators of digital content would be unwise to lock out such large numbers of consumers.

It is understandable that creators of digital content and the original artists have a strong desire for copyright protection. However, even authorized consumers have no desire for digital rights management schemes.

The situation is analogous to what occurred in the software industry in the 1980s. Software once came with copy protection schemes, sometimes even requiring a hardware dongle to copy software. Those security measures made it difficult for licensed users to run software. Today, software rarely comes with that kind of protection, so it is portable and easy to access--via passwords, for example.

Gartner believes a digital rights management scheme that restricts people to certain platforms or that is not transparent to consumers makes the strategy more likely to fail. Biometric identification measures requiring keyboards, such as the one announced by and Net Nanny Software, are not likely to appeal to potential customers with portable MP3 players, cell phones or personal digital assistants. Even non-keyboard-based biometric measures built into players, such as fingerprint recognition, are likely to be viewed as too intrusive.

(For related commentary on how authentication technology will affect the workplace, see registration required.)

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