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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.

  • Grims
    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.
    Reply
  • 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?"
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • A Stoner
    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?
    Reply
  • frozenlead
    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.
    Reply
  • frozenlead
    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.
    Reply
  • pharge
    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.
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    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.
    Reply
  • graviongr
    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.
    Reply