February 10, 2005 10:00 AM PST

Movie blackout for P2P networks?

Researchers at Royal Philips Electronics are developing new "fingerprinting" technology that could automatically identify and block transmission of digital-video files, potentially handing movie studios a new weapon in its war on peer-to-peer networks.

The technique would be similar to technology already being used to track and prevent copying of music files on some university networks. Philips' audio fingerprinting technology is central to Napster founder Shawn Fanning's new company Snocap, which aims to turn file-swapping networks into digital-song stores.

Once completed, Philips' technology--along with related tools from other companies--could be a powerful weapon in Hollywood's increasingly aggressive attempts to choke off the flood of films being traded online. For now, the tools are in an early stage of development, but Philips has begun to show them to potential partners and customers.

News.context

What's new:
Researchers are developing ways to identify and block movies being traded on peer-to-peer networks.

Bottom line:
The new tools could be a powerful weapon in Hollywood's attempts to choke off the flood of films being traded online, and could reignite the debates over P2P legislation.

More stories on this topic

"For identifying content over peer-to-peer networks, this is the ideal technology to use," said Ronald Maandonks, business development manager for content identification at Philips. "We are now working with a group of engineers to improve it."

A tool for identifying video mid-swap could reignite the debates over peer-to-peer legislation. Entertainment companies have pressed peer-to-peer software companies to install filters that block copyright material, but the software companies have said the idea is impractical.

Fingerprinting first appeared in the peer-to-peer world when a federal judge ordered the original Napster to block trades of copyright songs through its network in 2001. The company used early versions of audio fingerprinting technology to identify songs, which ultimately helped make the network all but unusable.

Independent company Audible Magic appeared several years later, saying it had developed its own way of fingerprinting songs online. The company's claims were quickly taken up by the Recording Industry Association of America, which said file-swapping companies should build this kind of song-stopping filters into their software.

Audible Magic's technology is now being used by a handful of universities, including Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., and Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, to identify and block song swaps on their networks.

Computers watching movies
Video fingerprinting would work much like its musical cousin. In the case of songs, a unique string of data (the "fingerprint") is associated with each recording. Software that can be installed inside an ISP network monitors files being swapped, checking for matches to

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How do these two statements jive...
...with each other?

From the cNet article:
"A Motion Picture Association of America executive said the group is looking closely at ways of identifying films online, but is focused more specifically on watermarking, a means of embedding extra code that helps track the origin of pirated copies. That technique has been particularly useful in the MPAA's effort to keep Oscar-nominated films offline."

And this:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-piracy10feb10.story" target="_newWindow">http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-piracy10feb10.story</a>

"One year after the Motion Picture Assn. of America began its highly publicized campaign against pre-Oscar piracy, the problem is even worse.

There are significantly more Academy Award screeners of movies available on the Internet for downloading than there were last year, according to websites that track online piracy, including all five films nominated for best picture."
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A flawed technology designed to appeal to an industry of idiots.
and by idiots I mean the content industry. The simple fact this technology has no hope of succeeding. In an attempt to show how futile attempts to control P2P are Ed Felton wrote the world smallest P2P app, Tiny P2P in just 15 lines of Python (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/tinyp2p.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/tinyp2p.html</a>). This brings me to my next point, there are a lot of open source P2P application and it wouldn't be hard for a programmer to remove the finger printing technology and recompile the application. For closed source P2P application attempts to fingerprint content can easily be fustrated with encryption. WinZip now includes 256 bit AES encryption. It seems to me that anyone who toutes this type of fingerprinting technology as a solution doesn't know what they're talking about.

I have two words for the MPAA and RIAA and the first one is four letters and starts with an F.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly
Saying that it will de-incrype files will take absurd amounts of time. Also, to go to the internet and confirm theese files, store a huge database of of music, it will all cost more than they save by removing piracy.
Posted by Shadow_Phoenix (1 comment )
Link Flag
I Agree
There are numerous ways to thwart any finger printing scheme that the industry can conjure up. It is a waste of effort trying to do this. If they really want to stop P2P swapping of movies, they should make their products cheaper than the actual bandwidth &#38; time it costs to download it from a P2P source. They would probably make a lot more profit by doing anyways.
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Penalty for downloading!
just wanted to share this... you can receive a harsher sentence for downloading then stealing the physical product? wow..

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://offtheshelf.nowis.com/index.cfm?ID=5" target="_newWindow">http://offtheshelf.nowis.com/index.cfm?ID=5</a>
Posted by dudehehe78 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the letter closely
There is a cease and desist letter link included as the basis for the link you posted. If you go to the bottom of the letter you will notice the file names listed by MGM, "dvdrip". That shows that it wasn't a recording of an "on-air broadcast" that is freely available to anyone with a TV and Antenna but was ripped off a purchased DVD of the show. I have no problem with them going after people posting dvdrips of TV shows but I have a MAJOR dissagreement with them attacking people trading broadcast recordings.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
What are they smoking
like all the piracy guards, this will only stop idiots from ripping .... and idiots arnt usually the onese distributing it over major p2p networks.

1) High level encryption... all countries execpet USA can use incredibly stupidly high encryption algos which cant be cracked within the lifetime of earth (based on current technology).. encryption poses 2 problems
a) the fingerprinter will have to be able to identify the encryption method
b) it will have to have a copy of the key to decrypt it.

this makes it HIGHLY unlikely that any "datapassthroughs" servers are going to pick it up.... if they did .. dont even think about using the internet ever again.. it will have to brute force decrypt everything from html documents to linux isos, just to be shure they're not an advancely encrypted video.

2) "in-cinema rips" -- ie: that made with a camcorder in a movie cinemea.. is it going to detect these as well? analog fingerprinting methods rely on the image being more or less identical visually to the original,.. this is usually done by "tinting" certain regions of the screen at a very low level .. sorta like a very faint over-printed barcode. If you insert too much noise... like shakey hands... pixel missalignments ... these watermarks can become unreadable...

i expect they're gonna need very sophisticated hardware to do this... not only does it have to decode the video, it has to convert a sequence of video frames into RGB images to analyise for patterns...

if they are going to implement this... i hope they have deep pockets... cos its going to either screw the internet... or simply not work without needing scores of paddocks of sophisticated hardware (an effective inverse rendering farm)
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yahoo2- blocks p2p networks
Yahoo declined to include my website Movie Networks Dot Org ,in their Search Marketing advertising program. The reason is because I have links that open to p2p download sites. The only reason you may see such sites advertised by Yahoo ! Is simply because they have not had the time to expunge them yet.The guidelines changed two months ago and will be implemeted ASAP. Do I blame Yahoo?
I blame them for attempting to take $30.00 dollars from me for a failed,declined ,campaign. I do not begrudge them for their actions as I have reservations about the p2p technology , after having my website sabotaged with a triple xxx hardcore porn movie mixed in with cartoons
.this resullted from my copying java script and putting a mini widget on my website. p2p may have seen its better days.
Posted by le blogue (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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