Fwd: E-DOCS: digital movies & "watermark" for copyright (fwd)

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 10:02:33 -0800 (PST)

>Wednesday, February 17, 1999
> Five giants in the computer and consumer electronics industries Tuesday
>announced an agreement on a "watermark" standard for protecting digital
>movies and videos from unauthorized copying.
> The agreement reconciles two competing standards -- one supported by the
>International Business Machines Corporation and NEC, the other supported by
>Hitachi Ltd., Pioneer Electronic Corporation and Sony Corporation. The
>agreement among those five companies promises to remove the last major
>obstacle preventing manufacturers from bringing digital video recording
>devices to market.
> The companies, which call themselves the Galaxy group, said they expected
>the first significant application of digital watermarks to be in future DVD
>systems. The new technology is also expected to be used to protect video
>distributed electronically via digital broadcasts and networks.
> An invisible, indelible bit of binary code, known as a watermark, will be
>embedded in every frame of a digital recording. The companies said it would
>be able to survive compression and decompression (packing data tightly for
>fast delivery, then unpacking it when it arrives) and conversion of any kind
>of digital video to any other digital format.
> Dan Sullivan, the I.B.M. vice president who oversees Asia-Pacific technical
>operations, said Tuesday that the technologies agreed upon had already been
>demonstrated. While the protection is strong enough to prevent illegal
>copying, he said, it is also dependable: a consumer who recorded digital
>material eight hours a day would get a false positive -- that is, be
>prevented from making a legitimate copy -- only once in 22 years.
> "The base technology is ready today," Sullivan said. "The implementation
>cycle will be based on motion picture studios acquiring the equipment and
>marking their works and on the time needed for consumer electronics
>manufacturers to design the watermark detectors into their machines.
>Realistically, we think the market will open in 2000."
> Sullivan said the watermarking would allow unlimited analog copies to be
>made on existing VCR's. But he said the watermark was so deeply embedded in
>the protected content that a digital recording device, like a DVD recorder,
>would even refuse to make a digital copy of an analog copy of the original
> The concern with digital copies is that they are virtually perfect clones
>of originals, enabling unlimited copying without protective technologies in
>place. Analog copies, in contrast, deteriorate rapidly over each generation,
>a sort of built-in anti-piracy protection.
>Copyright 1999 The New York Times fair use reprint for nonprofit educational
>use only

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld