Anti-Piracy Measures Via Sound Considered

Three professors from Osaka University, Japan, has perfected a method of pin-pointing the position of a recording device by way of using an audio watermark embedded into a soundtrack.

Professors Yuta Nakashima, Ryuki Tachibana and Noboru Babaguchi had first presented their findings at the Third International Conference on Intelligent Information Hiding and Multimedia Signal Processing (PDF Link) in November 2007; however, they have since perfected their technology and has submitted  an article for peer review this past February.

The technology involves embedding an audio signature into a film's soundtrack, which can then be used to locate the relative position of the recording device within a 0.44m accuracy.  This technology is ready for deployment and according to the researchers, their results from "the MUSHRA subjective listening tests show the method does not significantly spoil the subjective acoustic quality of the soundtrack."  For this detection method to be successful, the theaters and operators must keep a detailed database so as to compare recording signatures to logged patrons.

There are obviously questions of privacy and the security of personal information if the movie theater is to compile a database of its movie-goers.  However, this may be the most physically unobtrusive form of digital protection to have surfaced in recent memory.  The Motion Pictures Theaters Associations of Canada already offers reward bonuses of up to $500 CAD for the identification of a person using a recording device and their subsequent arrest.  According to TorrentFreak, this has already caused over zealous employees to have viewers arrested for recording only a few seconds of a movie.

Whether or not this technology is implemented remains the decision of movie studios and associations.  There were no costs of deployment or licensing estimated in the provided articles or talks but it will not be a surprise if the costs are reflected on to consumers and ticket prices.  According to estimated numbers, The Dark Knight had been downloaded more than seven million times over bittorrent in 2008, making it the most pirated movie of 2008.  While night vision goggles were used in the apprehension of a Kansas City man for recording The Dark Knight in July 2008.

Create a new thread in the US News comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
34 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • Blessedman
    This should help shut the Movie Theater business down as we know it. I am not giving up my personal info to watch a movie, period. Either that or John Smith is going to be the biggest movie goer of all time. This is about the stupidest thing I have ever seen in a way to protect movie content. Everything they have tried to do has failed, they really need to rethink a new business model if this is where they are at.
    14
  • Grims
    Quote:
    While night vision goggles were used in the apprehension of a Kansas City man for recording The Dark Knight in July 2008.


    I can't help but laugh at how our society takes minor digressions so seriously they camp out with night vision to catch them, it's really a side splitter.

    Besides, who wants to watch a cam anyway, to me it ruins the movie.
    11
  • mavroxur
    Wow, i'm at a loss for words. Now you must probably show ID to watch any movie, and sit in assigned seats. Hello, big brother.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Grims
    Quote:
    While night vision goggles were used in the apprehension of a Kansas City man for recording The Dark Knight in July 2008.


    I can't help but laugh at how our society takes minor digressions so seriously they camp out with night vision to catch them, it's really a side splitter.

    Besides, who wants to watch a cam anyway, to me it ruins the movie.
    11
  • hellwig
    ArticleAccording to TorrentFreak, this has already caused over zealous employees to have viewers arrested for recording only a few seconds of a movie.

    Here's a suggestion, don't record ANY part of a movie, stupid.

    Dark Knight was the most pirated? Oh no, its a shame to see how all that pirating caused its ticket and DVD sales to plummit all the way down to #1 and #1 respectively. I think pirates are immature idiots who need to realize that, like it or not, what they are doing is illegal. I also, however, think the MPAA, RIAA, etc.. need to stop blaming pirates on their crappy sales.

    That said, this is definately an interseting method. Makes sense though. With 8-channel theater sound, the various intensities of each signal, even with a mono-channel recorder, should be able to tell you roughly where in the theater each person sat. However, the phrase "the MUSHRA subjective listening tests show the method does not significantly spoil the subjective acoustic quality of the soundtrack" makes me think its still noticeable.

    "what's that low hum I'm hearing?"
    0
  • Blessedman
    This should help shut the Movie Theater business down as we know it. I am not giving up my personal info to watch a movie, period. Either that or John Smith is going to be the biggest movie goer of all time. This is about the stupidest thing I have ever seen in a way to protect movie content. Everything they have tried to do has failed, they really need to rethink a new business model if this is where they are at.
    14