AfterDawn: Tech news

Watermarking technology underway for DVDs

Written by Jari Ketola @ 05 May 2001 4:50

An alliance of seven major technology companies are working on a digital watermarking technology. DVDs with embedded watermarks might hit the market as early as September this year.
The Video Watermarking Group (VMW) is a combined venture of Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Sony, Digimarc, Macrovision, and Philips. After months of negotiations the companies have come together to produce a digital watermark for DVDs.

The watermark is intended for use with future DVD recorders and players. The recorder or player will read the watermark and determine whether or not the copy is legitimate, can further copies of the disc be made etc. The watermarking will enhance the existing copyright schemes implemented on DVD (CSS and Macrovision). Watermarking also enables companies to track a DVD that has been copied.

"Watermarking is a discreet method of preventing copyright infringement," says Simon Poulter, a Philips spokesperson. "Its very clever technology because it can be used for tracking to see where copies have come from when they turn up. This makes it a preventive solution insofar as it will deter people [from copying DVDs]."

The Motion Picture Association of America estimates its member studios annually lose $3.5 billion globally and $250 million domestically in videocassette film revenues to piracy.

The VWM's watermarking technology will be made available to the DVD-Copy Control Association for testing and approval in July. Depending on DVD-CCA's decision the technology could be available for licensing in September. The licensing efforts will be coordinated by Macrovision.

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