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Anti-Piracy Measures Via Sound Considered

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 34 comments

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.

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  • 14 Hide
    Blessedman , March 17, 2009 8:50 PM
    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.
  • 11 Hide
    Grims , March 17, 2009 8:33 PM
    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.
  • 10 Hide
    mavroxur , March 17, 2009 8:53 PM
    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.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    Grims , March 17, 2009 8:33 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 17, 2009 8:46 PM
    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?"
  • 14 Hide
    Blessedman , March 17, 2009 8:50 PM
    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.
  • 10 Hide
    mavroxur , March 17, 2009 8:53 PM
    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.
  • 8 Hide
    A Stoner , March 17, 2009 8:57 PM
    Quote:
    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."

    At all points in time, in all matters, large and small, the reason people are not showing up in theater seats is because overall, the movie industry is not catering to people viewing standards. Plots that are so common as to be able to know most of the movie before you even sit down. Previews that cover 90% of the good parts of the movies ruin the value of initial viewing. Political agenda's by the directors that cast a shadow of detest against the industry. Actors who think they are politicians, scientists or some godsend to humanity to set us hicks right. Then the prices of tickets continue to rise, the paychecks to actors soar out of of the stratosphere, completely isolating them from their audience. Popcorn, $.25 to make, $5.00 to buy. Soda, $.25 to make, $4.00 to buy. I may have those buy numbers low, it seems I paid $11.00 for soda and popcorn last time... Then to top things off, they want the public that goes to the theater and pays those outrageous prices to see the movie in the theater experience to actually have a degraded soundtract? Are you kidding me?
  • 6 Hide
    frozenlead , March 17, 2009 8:58 PM
    I was under the impression pirated movies came from DVD/BD rips. Recording stuff in a theater? It would look so bad, sound so bad...I'd rather be paying attention to the movie than attempt to record it.
  • 3 Hide
    frozenlead , March 17, 2009 9:00 PM
    A StonerThen to top things off, they want the public that goes to the theater and pays those outrageous prices to see the movie in the theater experience to actually have a degraded soundtract? Are you kidding me?


    I don't think ticket prices are bad..$7.00 or so for a movie seems fine to me. I'll agree with you on concessions, though.
    And the soundtrack, for that matter. It's like i'm paying them to spy on me.
  • 4 Hide
    pharge , March 17, 2009 9:30 PM
    frozenleadI was under the impression pirated movies came from DVD/BD rips. Recording stuff in a theater? It would look so bad, sound so bad...I'd rather be paying attention to the movie than attempt to record it.


    I have seen my friends watching those free download movies w/ V8 quality, baby crying at background, or heads moving infront. Thier quality are usually bad, but a lot of them are/were available for download at Bittorrent the day or within the first week of the release date, sometimes.. even before the release date (if it was leaked from the original theater copy). and make things worse... some of my friends... they prefer to watch those movies free w/ camcorder quality, 2 channel sound, and some "extra" at the background on their computer than the full quality motion pictures w/ huge screen and surround sound just because it is free. For them, movies are not a form of art. Movies are just some cheap TV program running at longer time.
  • 4 Hide
    palladin9479 , March 17, 2009 9:46 PM
    The problem with "piracy" is that the people who will watch the crappy cam quality rips aren't the type to actually goto the theater or purchase the DVD anyway. They just want to know what happens in the movie and don't care for the actual experience.
  • 2 Hide
    graviongr , March 17, 2009 10:12 PM
    I don't know what theatre you go to where tickets are $7.00, but around here if you want to watch a current release movie with the nice screens and sound systems, you are paying $8.50 minimum. When I see the 3D movies I pay $11.00.

    And yeah a large popcorn and soft drink is another $11.00. If I want to take a date out just to see a film I may end up paying $35-36 if we split the popcorn but each get our own drinks.

    I feel bad for guys with families of 4 or more seeing those new 3D films... $44 just on tickets. I could easily see someone spending $75 to $80 to take the family out to see a 100 minute film.
  • 1 Hide
    pharge , March 17, 2009 10:17 PM
    palladin9479The problem with "piracy" is that the people who will watch the crappy cam quality rips aren't the type to actually goto the theater or purchase the DVD anyway. They just want to know what happens in the movie and don't care for the actual experience.

    I agree.
    On the other hand, some of my friends who are willing to pay for movies, also use these download carppy cam quality rips to "preview" movies to decide which one they want to pay for the full experience.
  • 0 Hide
    pharge , March 17, 2009 10:26 PM
    gravionGRI don't know what theatre you go to where tickets are $7.00, but around here if you want to watch a current release movie with the nice screens and sound systems, you are paying $8.50 minimum. When I see the 3D movies I pay $11.00.And yeah a large popcorn and soft drink is another $11.00. If I want to take a date out just to see a film I may end up paying $35-36 if we split the popcorn but each get our own drinks.I feel bad for guys with families of 4 or more seeing those new 3D films... $44 just on tickets. I could easily see someone spending $75 to $80 to take the family out to see a 100 minute film.


    Though we can get cheaper tickets by going before 5-6p in many area (or buying in student discount or disscount tickets from our human resource or AAA), the food and drink sold in the theater are just out ragely expensive. Though there many resons make movies so expensive... but seeing movie company paying > 50% of budget to the main actor and actress, I am not surprised why our movie tickets cost so much. :( 
  • -1 Hide
    skit75 , March 17, 2009 10:36 PM
    Seriously, if the major studios really wanted to end this, all they have to do is release the movie in (insert your flavor of format here) at the same time the movie hits the big screen or sooner for that matter. Those who enjoy 70+ foot screens with 10,000+ watts of audio will still buy tickets. Anyone else can choose to get the movie at thier local store same day and watch it in thier home theatre. Who will "handy-cam man" sell his warez to now......someone who would have never bought the movie in the first place and would accept the degraded quality as part of thier collection? Are the studios honestly losing money here?
  • 3 Hide
    JimmiG , March 17, 2009 11:12 PM
    Those who go to the cinema regularly are the only "friends" of the MPAA that remain. Now they want to start treating them like criminals too. When will they realize that treating your customers like criminals isn't going to make them buy more of your stuff? Besides, what if this "watermark" impacts the audio quality?

    MPAA - the problem isn't your customers - the problem is your products and how you deliver them.
  • 0 Hide
    DeadlyPredator , March 17, 2009 11:48 PM
    Don't care about number of time a torrent is being downloaded... MPAA / RIAA use bots to boost trackers stats...
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 18, 2009 12:19 AM
    Just to let people know, if it's a theater which opens a movie (not those theaters that show the movie months after it's been out), that movie theater makes about 5% of that $7 per ticket. The movie production company has a lot of say in what price they want their tickets sold at. I remember when we had to raise the price for Spiderman tickets, or we wouldn't get the movie. After a few weeks, the theater will get more percent, to a max of 15% (that's about a dollar). All the theaters operation costs come from concessions, which is why it's so high :( 

    I don't work the theater anymore, but I will always go watch movies that you just have to see there, (Explosive movies, Jumper, Coraline in 3D, I want to feel the sound, and 3D is 3D). If the theaters ever create a database of customers, I will never go again.
  • 0 Hide
    zerapio , March 18, 2009 1:16 AM
    andfsd, thanks for the comment. I didn't know what the cost structure of a typical theater was.
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , March 18, 2009 2:07 AM
    This is halarious. I can see the world becomming so controlled you'll need Id to access a corner store. When a country has power, they will abuse it. Sadly us "common folk" or "end users" can't do a thing. The Citizens of any country can't do a thing. If we all stand up and kill the president or condemn him, then what? We put in place a new president and we're blinded to think all is well but the same old thing continues? "power to the people" yea, nice mask to make it seem like we have some form of control. Democracy run-a-muck.
  • 0 Hide
    magicandy , March 18, 2009 2:50 AM
    frozenleadI don't think ticket prices are bad..$7.00 or so for a movie seems fine to me. I'll agree with you on concessions, though.And the soundtrack, for that matter. It's like i'm paying them to spy on me.


    You must only see matinees, as most of the major theaters here in RI charge at least $9.00 a head. There's only one theater I can think of that charges less and they're not exactly a great theater.
  • 0 Hide
    hustler539 , March 18, 2009 2:56 AM
    This would never work.

    Quote:
    the theaters and operators must keep a detailed database so as to compare recording signatures to logged patrons.


    For as much as they charge for popcorn and a soda, they are not gonna want to cough up the money to cover these extra expenses.
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