Building a Personal 'DRM' System and/or copyright thoughts on a Mobile Office I Want to Rent Out?


Jan 12, 2014
Hey all,

Wow. This proved to be a bit of an epic post given the odd nature of it. My apologies. There is a TL:DR in the third paragraph but even THAT reads like a novel.

Before I begin, I know it's impossible to put any sort of anti-copy system onto a file system that prevents them from being copied by someone in the know; I'm looking primarily for a deterrent system that makes it more difficult to copy a file and/or logs the action for me. Everything on the Internet defaults to 'give up, you can't prevent people from copying videos, etc.' and devolve from there.

Here is the TL;DR version of this mess (bought of insomnia, I'm a wreck): I want to lock a laptop down with backup blu rays (real backups, nothing pirated, I own the 'real' copies but they are invariably scratched beyond use) and a Steam account for gaming on a Windows 10 machine and allow people to view the blu ray movies and use the software on the laptop. I will NOT be charging for any games or movies of course, though they will have access to my library when they rent my car. (I will not be using Steam or watching the blu-rays while the car is rented).

...and before I go into super detail of what is going on, here is the [very rough draft description of the] car I intend to rent on


A most unique car for those seeking top quality entertainment and office productivity while on the road.

Car contains custom designed state of the art mobile office and entertainment package. High powered laptop (intel i7, Nvidia 970M docked w/ wireless controllers) and an amplified Verizon 4G hotspot w/ included data plan (100 MB per day, 1GB per week, 5GB per month, +25 USD for every GB over given allocation). Designed to provide entertainment and high level workstation support for those in need of a mobile office or entertainment center.

Other pre-installed options if available and in lieu or in combination of the laptop include:

- Nvidia Shield TV system w/ three controllers
- Xbox One
- Playstation 4
- 1 or more Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Over 50 licensed blu ray movies and AAA games on two high quality, studio grade, 13.5 inch 1920p HD touchscreen monitors (both mounted in the back, but can be easily moved to the front for driver when parked or moved to the front passenger seat at any time). Multiple AC and USB outlets for passengers. System can be safely used for one to four hours with the engine off. Please inquire for a complete list of games, movies and software as well as any other capabilities that can be engineered for your rental.

Car itself has adaptive Cruise Control, automated emergency braking, self leveling lights, high quality speakers, GPS, heated front seats, and can include a pet bed for animals up to 70 or 80 pounds behind the passenger row of seats.

Long term (Month+) rates are negotiable depending on your specific needs.

All rentals come with engineering work included to meet your specific requirements and remote support (active remote assistance is available only with three or more 'bars' on the Verizon LTE modem and other various factors).

There is NO CHARGE on any movies, video games or productivity software that comes with the rental - other movies, games and software can be purchased and installed on behalf of the renter at least three days before the rental takes place. At the end of the rental all renter purchased games, movies and software will be removed from the car systems and purchased media / software keys returned to the purchaser.

No Smoking / Vaping.

Regardless of the engineering and support, these are complex systems that may not be able to repaired remotely if issues occur during your rental. Beyond standard wear and tear, renter is responsible for any damaged or stolen equipment - all components are designed to be easily stored out of view when parked in a public space.


For those that are crazy enough to stick around and read this drivel, here is some important background on what I am trying to do - I would love your thoughts on any of this, including any legalities I may not be aware of!

My background is in IT, so I 'familiar' with a lot of the concepts here.... but I'm also an idiot and as such any opinions would be most welcome.

I am bootstrapping a company related to various technology driven things, the most notable being some work in VR for end of life care - I am no coder, but have had to switch phases around and produce some 360 videos a lot sooner than expected for some people that are in desperate need.

Below I explain why and how I have all of this stuff jammed in the car (though really, it takes up very little space, maybe that of a soccer ball), but when I rent this out I want to make sure I am not running afoul of any copyrights.

Any videos they want to watch will be watermarked with their particular name and ID in various places (360/VR videos require obscene amounts of computing power, so having my systems churn out a watermarked video is a rather quick process), and I can restrict games via the family pin number in Steam (I don't give a hoot about my game saves, I'm unfortunately WAY too busy to play and will be for a while). Still, I'd like to make it difficult for them if they try and copy files from the computer (I'd like it to be on an external hard drive or USB key to be honest) or log access at any attempts to access the file system beyond a sanctified viewer.

Should I attack video file protection, beyond the watermark, with encryption? Windows file management? A viewer that only has access to that drive which nothing else can touch (if so, how would I do that again)?

If you're REALLY masochistic, I offer some possible solutions given the set-up, but you'll have to read about designing this stuff in the car and OHMYGOD is it boring.


Pictures will come if anyone is interested in this stuff. I don't want to rent this car until I have some feedback on legalities and recommended policies which is why I'm wasting your valuable time.

Before I go into what's up with the car, I mention Sugru a lot, if you aren't familiar with it, think 'silly putty that hardens into silicone', it's basically a moldable duct tape type of product that is made out of unicorn poop or something. It's amazing.

Why all this crazy computing power? I've learned that if you want ANYTHING to do with 360 vid shoots and you'll need some big computing power anytime you want to work on a VRish / 360ish project. Computers without CUDA cores need not apply (CUDA cores are NVIDIA processing units for media since it is early days with 360/VR live shooting software, it's NVIDIA or bust) Also, if you'll need a lot of screen estate and high refresh rates (shooting at 60fps with existing rigs is a straight up requirement if there is any movement of the camera rig). The 4k/5k laptop screens are actually too small, for me at least, so I opted for some sort of multi-screen set up. Luckily, the mobile NVIDIA 900 generation all rock the same amount of CUDA cores as their desktop brethren, or at least the 970M does, so while expensive, you don't need one of those SLI laptops.

For my desktop, this was already sorted, but I needed something that was completely mobile as well - I wanted my car to feel like my home office, not like I was cramped up next to a laptop trying to do something that I really wanted to do in my home office.

Serendipitous events allowed me to trade in my car for a crossover SUV (Mazda CX-5) recently. By the time of that purchase I realized that I would need to produce videos on the go (and needing to have the computing abilities of my home office for the company when I start traveling around), I spent my remaining cash on integrating my mobile tech into the new car.

I bought two 13.3 inch 1920x1080p touch monitors (GeChic 1303i, a great monitor!), the only ones I could identify that were light, had a separate displayport input and ran at 60hrz. I magnetically mounted them to the driver and passanger headrests with a cord whip (some Sugru and teeny bungie cords mean they will not fall and have some healthy flex if someone bumps into it). Each headrest mount contains the monitor and the stand - so if the passenger or driver (while parked of course) wants to use the screens you simply remove the monitor from the stand and mount it on another magnetic mounting area (generally a suction magnetic mount on a windshield).

There is a good amount of space beneath the driver and passenger seats. Under the driver seat is hidden a 150W fanless power inverter, an NVIDIA Shield that maxes out at 26W (the TV one, I love it, but didn't intend to get two of them, hence why one is being used in the car - I leave this off by default), and HDMI Splitter that maxes out at 20W when in use (this may be moved or alleviated), an Anker USB power bar which draws 40W, and a USB 3.0 hub that can draw as much as 20 (but in practice draws very little). The GeChic monitors are powered via a forked USB cable, one of which goes to the USB power brick and the other to the USB hub (for touch input), that hub has a 6ft extension to the trunk of the car where it plugs into the laptop. Likewise, there are two display-port cords, one hdmi (soon to be two), analogue 3.5mm stereo cable, and 2 flat cat6 cables going from the cabin to the trunk of the SUV. Excluding the whip to the monitors and the monitors themselves all of this has no visible footprint and there is still tons of room underneath the driver and passenger seats.

Also off of that USB hub beneath the driver's seat is a connection to another USB 3.0 hub (passively powered) between the driver's and passenger's seat (I shanghaied the comfort key holder) that I mounted with some Sugru. I wanted to quickly mount a drive in the front of the car and I use a yubikey (token usb key for security) when I am working in the driver's seat. In that key holder is a also the world's worst soldering job for a switch that controls the cabin's AV systems, allowing you to turn off the inverter and cabin power draws rather easily. All of this runs off of the 12V DC 3-port extender mounted (with Sugru...again) in the driver's arm rest bin, something I was going to wire direct from the battery until I realized that the 3 port extender lets me experiment with the car build rather easily so I can iterate, rather than locking the solution in. It has a voltage meter on it as well, which is handy when I'm trying to judge how long the systems should run with the engine off. Off of that 12-V 3 port is a 60W multi-colored LED light system I bought for 40 bucks. Of course anyone who has seen the car, it's the lights they are excited about, not all of this other crap.

I should note that you could remove the USB hubs (must keep the USB power brick though), the displayport cords, etc. and run all of this under the driver's seat w/ the Nvidia Shield and have a pretty kick-ass media system. I had a small sedan before this car and believe I could have shoehorned all of this into that car without having to drill holes or alter the car in any way. While I smushed a lot of sugru on the grainy bits of the dash and then flopped the cured sugru over wires to make it blend in with the Mazda I do want to drill two holes inside the driver's armrest to alleviate all cords once I am satisfied that I know where all cords can and should be fished throughout the car.

In the back of the car I have a Verizon 4G home router that has 3 LAN ports - currently one goes to the laptop (in the trunk), one to a cheap AC router (I'm deciding where this fits in, if at all, but it's very handy for a nice wireless bridge when the car is parked, I'll probably replace it with a travel router and may jettison the home router entirely and use a dedicated amped hotspot/phone), and one to the cabin (to the NVIDIA shield in this case).

Not that it gave me extra space as it's under the flooring of the trunk of the SUV, but I removed the spare tire. I won't go into why I hate spare tires, but if I own a car, the spare tire goes as soon as I get home. I carry some green slime and a... tire pump.

Tire pump! That's actually a related and very important component of this system, and is what makes it from an entertainment system to a mobile office. This:

is the best thing you can get if you aren't into making your own fanless power system while on the go (I don't want to make my own nor do I have the skillset). I love it. Beyond the power, it has a tire pump, which with the green slime, covers me if AAA/USAA can't get around to assist. The Mazda has a 12V adapter in the trunk and I've just slammed this power pack in the corner and connected it to the 12V plug in the car with a double male adapter and let it do it's thing. Pushing your 12V adapter in your car over 120 watts may trip a fuse, though most modern cars will let you suck 150W without going belly up. If you want to run the things I listed here, you'll be running below 150 watts most of the time but you may surge to 200W occasionally.

With that powerpack though you're fine for any surges up to and can comfortably take a 300W steady draw, though any continual draw over 150 will mean that even with the car running, you'll run out of juice at some point and your systems will go kaput. It's super easy to switch between topping up the battery from a standard wall jack (I carry an extension cord around), solar panels if you are so inclined, or let the car battery keep it in balance (though this is a bit more dangerous, it's not as much of a risk as I originally thought).

The 970M in the laptop is a good pairing right now for this powerpack - it runs 1080p games with aplomb and generally amounts to a total laptop to power draw <= 120W - so you can run indefinitely while the car is on, about 2 hours before you start looking at the voltage meters every so often, and max out at 3 or 4 hrs. You could probably run a solid 5 or 6 before you kill your batteries (when that happens with the Mazda's battery I'll replace it with a deep charge cycle battery).

Beyond controllers, pointers, touchscreens, etc. I am using a Logitech K830 which is a brilliant keyboard and mouse combo that fits into any of the doors' compartment and out of public view.

The laptop runs rather hot, but even on a hot day with the trunk vinyl cover on (obscuring any view of the battery or laptop) it runs a lot cooler than I had thought. Due to being a paranoid freak, I bought a cheap laptop cooler with a 120MM fan (whatever, a big fan) and mounted the laptop to that.

It's a very portable system - removing the monitors, laptop, and powerpack for a shoot is less than 15 seconds a pop, though if you want to remove the cases they sit in (the mounted cases would just look odd to a thief, neither valuable nor particularly appealing), than you'd have to futz around for about another 5 minutes - I haven't had incentive to design a quick dismount for the headrest mounts as there is no need yet. The longest part is docking the laptop - if my company ever makes money the next rig I buy will hopefully have a docking option though I can't think of many discrete gaming laptops with docks.

Whoa. This is stupid... and stupid long. Did you actually read all of this? If so, why? Actually! Cross that. Not in my authority to ask questions for someone who just subjected themselves to this post.

Originally all users were going to go through the Nvidia shield save for a special account for people who wanted to use business applications directly (the shield does Gamestream, letting me obfuscate Windows 10 and still have people play the games). The shield interface is rubbish though.

So Kodi for general media interfaces direct from the laptop? That's my guess.

What do you think? If you actually read this and are interested I'll post pictures - I don't plan on using the car all the time until 2016. In fact, I'm rarely using it given a change in my business plan for a good six months. Since my initial clients are end of life, I am not charging a dime until the services are down to a fluid, exact science. But my revenue streams don't come in until mid-2016, and while have some other things to pay the bills (barely), I will have to drive Uber to get to 2016 and that means I'm not working. If people are willing to pay a premium for renting the car during periods I am pounding away solutions at my house, than it could be a win-win. I just want it to be legal and have a solution that can take some abuse for a year rather than the month or two of me testing it by myself.

I'm totally going to delete this when I wake up sober tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
i lasted only until briefly into the rental description...

so let me get this straight: you want to rent your personal car, a gaming system, a laptop and various other products to random strangers?

have you ever rented a car before? there is a reason why rental companies have lots of insurance, legal agreements, credit cards on file and other protection means - none of which are going to be practical for someone not going into the rental business to deal with. when people rent cars they tend to not care and you will end up with scratches or damage up to including flat tires, fender benders, windshields, etc. then there is theft or damage to your electronics.

i wouldnt do it as it sounds like a huge headache with possibility to get financially hurt - though its up to you. drm on movies is the least of your worries.


Jan 12, 2014
[quotemsg=16660733,0,248892]i lasted only until briefly into the rental description...[/quotemsg]

You're a better person than I; in rereading this post this morning I couldn't get past the first sentence or two. Ughh I'm a windbag, huh?

so let me get this straight: you want to rent your personal car, a gaming system, a laptop and various other products to random strangers?

Yes. Not entirely random though, RelayRides is becoming a popular thing and people pay a solid amount of $$$ to rent out odd cars - it has an Airbnb like system of reviewing the renter as well so there is a check and balance system.

have you ever rented a car before?

More times than I would like to remember. Though not on RelayRides yet.

there is a reason why rental companies have lots of insurance, legal agreements, credit cards on file and other protection means - none of which are going to be practical for someone not going into the rental business to deal with. when people rent cars they tend to not care and you will end up with scratches or damage up to including flat tires, fender benders, windshields, etc. then there is theft or damage to your electronics.

Relayrides takes care of all of that, insurance on the comp equipment will take care of the laptop, etc. and the passanger will be responsible if someone uninstalls the equipment and runs off with it. Note that people are renting out BMWs, ferraris, etc. I just had a guest down from Airbnb with a dodge viper they got from Relayrides that was in mint condition and that person was saying that when you use the service there is an implicit understanding you don't use it like a rental car from Budget, that other than a quick start off the line or two, the gentleman was being gentle on the car. That experience fits into my research on Relayrides.
i wouldnt do it as it sounds like a huge headache with possibility to get financially hurt - though its up to you. drm on movies is the least of your worries.[/quotemsg]
Relayrides takes care of that stuff from my understanding. The car has all of this crap in it regardless as I need to do post video work on the road but I'm stuck in my home office more than I thought for the next six months. My next step is to drive uber and I'll be miserable doing so and unable to push the needle forward on my work so this looks like a good thing to try.

I don't care if the car gets dinged, I don't care if it gets totaled - as long as insurance covers it and no one is hurt any dings are in the 'first world problems / who cares' category for me at this phase.