Amateur video, ideally closed captioned.
March 20, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Playing it safe in the digital age-- how can I record and store very private video of myself and him together (for us to enjoy together), but reserve the right to rescind access if the relationship ends?

I'm not a stranger to recording and enjoying private moments, but I have yet to do it in such a way that I haven't regretted it later. All signs point to the current relationship having more integrity and potential than any thus far, but I've been burned enough to want to play it safe. I understand he's the other half in this scenario and could ostensibly have the same concerns, but for the sake of this AskMe I would posit that it would be far worse for me (the female) if my father or employer were to come across such video than if his were-- that's just the nature of the game. While that's an entirely different topic (and diatribe), I'm interested in solving the immediate "issue".

So: how to share intimate moments in a recorded, re-playable fashion but still have control over the use/reproduction/distribution of the contents? Should I record it myself and upload it to a password-protected site so that if things go south I can change the password? Seems a bit paranoid. Anyone have any ideas that are smart and subtle?
posted by anonymous to Technology (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Uploading it to a password protected site that he has the password to wouldn't help. He could go there and take a copy before the breakup and you wouldn't be able to do anything about it if you later broke up. A password protected site that only you have the password for (under the assumption that you're going to watch it together so he doesn't really need the password) would be more workable, but still breakable.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:21 AM on March 20, 2007

On the Windows platform, you could use something like the free version Vidlock, to tie your video files into the Microsoft DRM protection scheme. This is a tradeoff between protection and convenience, as are most Digital Rights Management schemes, and if someone with access to the files wanted to strip the DRM from them, there are already workarounds. But, in the U.S., you'd have DMCA behind you, if you wanted to go after that someone legally.
posted by paulsc at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2007

The term "analog hole" has never been more apropos. If he can watch it, he can copy it. End of story. If you solve this problem, you can sell a DRM solution to all the major record companies and movie studios for a lot of money.

I don't mean to be harsh, but it's just not possible in general.
posted by GuyZero at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

You're talking about doing something that the record and movie industries have been trying to do since the advent of the cassette recorder. The main difference between you and them is the size of the audience.

Upload it? To a site? Password-protected or no, that's an unnecessary risk. Your best bet here is to keep it low tech. Make VHS tapes that you keep in a locked box and don't copy. And if you don't trust him enough to believe that he won't sneak out and make copies on his own, do not pursue this idea.
posted by contraption at 10:25 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you let someone have unrestricted access to the file/video at any point, then they can take a copy. There's no way round that. Worst case, they can just connect the playback device to a VCR and tape it.

If you want to secure a file that will remain in your possession, that's do-able. Do you need this accessible on the PC only, or on TV also?

What I'd do: a TrueCrypt container on a PC will secure a bunch of files very neatly. If you want playback on a TV, get a device that can play video from a network share, and share the TrueCrypt drive once you've mounted it.


Mediagate video player
posted by Leon at 10:28 AM on March 20, 2007

The solution is a videotape in a good strong safe that only you have the combination to — and even then, you can't let him out of your sight with that tape. If you want him to be able to enjoy the video when you're away, then everyone else is right — you just can't do this.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:35 AM on March 20, 2007

Wear a wig during the filming so that you can maintain deniability.
posted by xo at 10:36 AM on March 20, 2007 [5 favorites]

Analog, lo-tech, deny copies. Anything that can be played on a computer monitor can be screen captured with the right software. Anything.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:46 AM on March 20, 2007

If you really want to play it safe, don't do it at all. Otherwise, they can be copied/stolen. No guarantees for keeping them secret exist.
posted by Roger Dodger at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2007

What you can do isnt much, but you can do this:

Store the file on your computer using TrueCrypt. it will make a fake encrypted virtual drive.

Only play the file from there after you've entered your password. You two can watch these files together on that computer only. I can't stress this enough. when you are done with the videos, close the video player, and 'disconnect' the drive truecrypt makes. Now its back to being encrypted data no one can use. Read the documentation well!

Thats the technological solution. You need a social solution too. If you do this you must also tell him that these videos are owned by you, encrypted, and regardless of what happens you want your reputation to be safe thus he can only watch them with you and cannot ask you for the password.

Even then the worst case scenario of your father or employer seeing such a video is pretty uncommon. Even if this guy is pretty trashy the worst he's probably going to do is show it to his buddies.

Lastly, there's alway a risk in producing media you dont want others to see. If you are unable to handle the risk then don't do it.

Oh, and pick a STRONG password.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:53 AM on March 20, 2007

If recordings are already out there in the wild, I wouldn't worry about it anymore. Either you trust the guy or you don't.

If you still want a solution, try a legal one: sex tape + pre-nuptials + non-disclosure agreement. He might want to brag/retribute later, but probably not to the tune of 3 years in prison.
posted by DU at 10:58 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

He might want to brag/retribute later, but probably not to the tune of 3 years in prison.

Unless you're underage, there's no way you could get him sent to prison for disclosing the tape.
posted by grouse at 11:02 AM on March 20, 2007

DU: I like the legal angle, and it definitely fits the "smart" requirement, but I'm not so sure about the "subtle."

Keeping the video on tapes in a locked box could be explained away (you could just express discomfort about something like that sitting out where anyone who visits could find and steal it .) An NDA makes it pretty clear who's being locked out.
posted by contraption at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2007

Make the NDA a two-way street and you can make it sound more like you are protecting each other.

And the plus side is that if you fight about it, you can film the make-up sex!
posted by DU at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2007

contraption makes a point worth repeating:

You're talking about doing something that the record and movie industries have been trying to do since the advent of the cassette recorder.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:12 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since it's for you two to enjoy together, keep it on a video tape. Put the tape in when you two want to enjoy it. Otherwise keep it in a safe.

If you put it on, you could MAYBE create a separate account and put the video on the desktop of that account. Then switch to the admin account and deny the account with the video pretty much any rights to do anything than watch the video. Do not give this account network access or internet access at all.

This is all maybe and more computer savvy people can chime in on whether this will work. But anything you put on a computer can copied in some form or fashion. And while your lover might not know anything about computers, if he gets pissed off, he might be willing to learn really quickly or ask one of his tech savvy buddies.

Perhaps the best solution would be to tape him at some doing something intimate, keep it and let him know you have it and will use it should he attempt to pull anything against you. But this route is so fraught with trust issues while still leaving you vunerable that it's almost pointless to go this route.

Stick to lo tech video tape, which you remain in control of. But you have to maintain control of that tape, meaning he isn't left alone with it, or if he is, you check to make sure what you think is the tape is actually the tape and then you're sorta policing him and this could damage the relationship.
posted by The Behatted Wild Man of Greenfield at 11:12 AM on March 20, 2007

If recordings are already out there in the wild, I wouldn't worry about it anymore.

That's like saying 'you're already overweight, just eat whatever you want'. Silly advice.

As many have said, there's only so much you can do. Your best bet is judging his character, if you're good at such things.
posted by justgary at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2007

sounds to me like some sort of DRM would be the perfect solution for her... put some sort of limit on the file (maybe a time limit of 1 month that you can then renew for him assuming you're still together at the end of each month). this would give him the freedom to play the file back for his own, uhummm, personal use but also restrict him from copying the file and/or watching it after that month is up.

i don't know of any 'personal drm solutions' out there, but maybe someone else here does...
posted by hummercash at 11:21 AM on March 20, 2007

No. As I said, if you can play it on a computer monitor you can load a screen capture program, draw a little box around whatever DRM-enabled player you're using, and capture screen shots at 30 frames per second and write them to a quicktime movie.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:23 AM on March 20, 2007

Think of the way someone uses a screen capture program to make video Photoshop tutorials. Same thing.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2007

basically.. you can't do anything that won't make him realise that you don't trust him.
posted by ascullion at 11:26 AM on March 20, 2007 [4 favorites]

And if you really want to play up the two-way street with the videotape there are safes with two keys (the industy term appears to be "dual custody") so that he can feel confident that you aren't out showing the tape all willy-nilly like.
posted by mmascolino at 11:28 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Snapz Pro X. I'm sure something similar exists for XP.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:28 AM on March 20, 2007

basically.. you can't do anything that won't make him realise that you don't trust him.

posted by poweredbybeard at 11:32 AM on March 20, 2007

This is easy.

First, get a digital version of the video on your computer.
Second, each of you gets a copy of some kind of encryption software.
Third, you encrypt the video under your key.
Fourth, he encrypts your encrypted version under his key.

It doesn't really matter which order you encrypt it in—the point is, it has to go through two rounds, each of you holding one key. You can make as many copies of the double-encrypted version as you want, give them out as party favors, whatever, but both of you will need to be in the same place at the same time to unlock it.
posted by adamrice at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

damn dirty ape writes "Store the file on your computer using TrueCrypt. it will make a fake encrypted virtual drive.

"Only play the file from there after you've entered your password. You two can watch these files together on that computer only. I can't stress this enough. when you are done with the videos, close the video player, and 'disconnect' the drive truecrypt makes. Now its back to being encrypted data no one can use."

There's a big hole here if the boyfriend ever has unrestricted access to the machine.

He could install a program that copies everything displayed on the screen to a file and have it run whenever truecrypt is run.
He could install a keylogger and capture your truecrypt password.

Same problem with adamrice's suggestion. If you can't trust a party to not distribute can you trust them to not install a keylogger?

Any unsecured computer (IE: one the boyfriend has physical access to) solution is going to suffer from either or both of these exploits. A nice hardware solution like DVD in two keyed box is probably better. You don't need anything fancy, a toolbox with two hasp loops in the latches and a pair of padlocks would do.
posted by Mitheral at 11:44 AM on March 20, 2007

There is no way to do it. Either make the tape, trust your S/O and also accept that others may see it, or don't make the tape.
posted by fire&wings at 11:52 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anyone have any ideas that are smart and subtle?

I think many of the ideas here are not so subtle and give off the message loud and clear that he is not to be trusted.

I'd say go with old technology. People here have suggested VHS. I suggest you film yourself on a reel-to-reel and play it back on some vintage projector. Tell him it turns you on to see yourselves like in some old naughty film from the 50's, 60's.
posted by vacapinta at 12:25 PM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

The threat of blackmail. If he ever shares it, ever, no matter under what circumstances, you'll send it to his mother.

For extra assurance, make sure there's something on that tape that he may not so much want "out there" either, at least out of context. Like some footage of him in your panties or employing anything that may massage his prostate.

Plenty of guys are unembarrassed to be all into all kinds of sexiness, but that doesn't mean they'd want the lads to see them in such moments.

On preview, I think that vacapinta's idea is brilliant. And sexy,
posted by desuetude at 12:33 PM on March 20, 2007

I kind of think vacapinta has the first good idea of this thread.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:39 PM on March 20, 2007

Although unless you're processing your negative yourself, it's gonna mean that a bunch of dudes at the lab are going to see your naughty bits.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2007

I dont see why this must become an issue of trust. As a woman she has a lot more to lose if these videos got out. Couples break up all the time. Her reputation would be damaged, possibly forever. For a guy its mildly embarassing and will get him a lot of 'way to go' slaps on the back from other guys. Lets not be too naive. This is nothing compared to, say, a pre-marital contract.

An understanding boyfiend would grok the double standard and either agree to this or just ask to not make any movies at all if he doesnt like the terms. I don't think encryption or betamax or whatever is going to help without a social solution to mix with the technological solution.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2007

I think you need to have something like a box with two locks.

You could approach this either in the low-tech way, or a high-tech one.

Low-tech: use a VHS recorder, and without both of you letting it out of your sight, put it into a file box with two locks. Each of you gets a key. Neither of you can play it without the other person's permission and presence. So it's something you can only do together. You each make sure the other person doesn't copy it while it's out. Then, back into the box it goes.

I suppose if you wanted to get away from the nuclear-weapons-ness of it, you could put it in a locked box to which you have the key, and give the box to him, or vice versa. But there's no way that you can give him the recording to watch whenever he wants, and ensure there are not any copies made. (This is the "DRM problem," and there's no solution and can't ever be one.)

The high-tech equivalent of a box with two keys is something called threshold encryption, which is basically a mathematical way of breaking a password (key) up into two separate parts such that neither part is the whole password itself. There are computerized implementations that would let you encrypt a file with multiple keys in this manner, although they might take some nerdery to get working. And it might be time-consuming to decrypt the video each time you want to watch it together (and then securely re-encrypt and erase it afterwards).

I think, in short, that you've stumbled across a rather serious problem in the information sciences today, and to which there is no easy answer. My suggestion would just be to keep the tape yourself and not give him a copy, unless you trust him absolutely. There's no way to guarantee that he can't copy and distribute it, or to make it self-destruct, otherwise.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:58 PM on March 20, 2007

I think Vacapinta has the right idea. I think the last thing you should do is put it on your computer, no matter how many passwords you put on there.

I think a conversation with him, where he agrees that the film is your property (but for both of your enjoyment), and keeping it locked in a safe, combined with using a sufficiently old or rare technology, is about as good as you can get. I think that filming on some kind of older format, such as betamax, plate-sized video disk, or some sort of actual film (although you then have the problem of getting the film developed) gives a certain kind of security, because if you accidentally lose the film (during a move, say, or in a burglary) it is less likely that the person who ends up with the film will have a way to play it, and will hopefully toss it rather than watch it.
posted by Forktine at 2:00 PM on March 20, 2007

Why not just make a video with no faces shown? Sure, take some of the other steps discussed above, but with no faces there's no lives to be ruined.

Plus, that's kind of hot maybe?
posted by utsutsu at 2:47 PM on March 20, 2007

Yeah, the simple solution is tell him just what you've said in this thread:

"I want to make this tape with you. I want us to watch it together, and enjoy it. But relationships end, and if this one does--which I hope it doesn't--a woman's reputation is damaged exponentially more by a sex tape than a man's. Therefore I want to keep the tape in my possession."

Most guys who have convinced their SO into making a sex tape will be satisfied with these conditions. You have the upper hand, in that if he disagrees with your conditions, you simply say "OK then, no tape."
posted by jckll at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2007

My suggestion would be to get a fake ID made up that clearly shows our age as 16 (maybe a high school or middle school ID?)... Then at the beginning of the video hold it up to the camera, clearly establishing that you "are only 16."

Now, if he attempts to distribute it, it'll look like he's a creepo.
posted by drezdn at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2007

That would work unless he had the magical knowledge of "taping over part of the tape, but not all of it" handed down from generation after generation of sorcerers, mystics, and mages.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:57 PM on March 20, 2007

Riffing on the "no faces" approach... wasn't there are sex film a few years back that was filmed in infrared and got a whole bunch of awards?

Sexy, arty and deniable.
posted by Leon at 6:22 PM on March 20, 2007

To solve this problem, I just invented a device. Now I just need some people to build it for me, and we're all set.

What you need combination retinal scanner, retinal projection system. I'm imagining goggles that simultaneously scan the wearer's retinas, and if they're an authorized user, projects an image of amateur pornography.

Lasers would likely to be involved.

I've done the hard part, now someone here just needs to put it together and you're good.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:33 PM on March 20, 2007

You can't. If that's a concern, don't record it.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:01 PM on March 20, 2007

OK, after further review, editing out the beginning of the tape would be a small problem. So put a graphic throughout (like fox or abc do with their programming) saying "x has a small penis," where x=the guy. You'll have to figure out a clever explanation of why you did it but it'll totally be worth it. Feel free to move the graphic around throughout the program.
posted by drezdn at 6:45 AM on March 21, 2007

While amusing, drezdn, since the point of the video is supposed to be for them to watch together and enjoy I think that might undo that.

I think your best bet is the no faces thing. I can see there being some sort of additional thrill in the re-watching, given the pseudo-anonymity.

Alternately, both of you wear stockings/balaclavas on your heads during the filming. You can pretend you are bank robbers celebrating a successful heist!
posted by phearlez at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2007

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