New technique would allow copyright holders to accurately identify pirated video even if scenes are altered, colors changed, or the film is a CAM copy.
One of the problems anti-piracy groups have faced in the battle against illegal file-sharing is accurately identifying copyrighted video that has been altered to avoid detection by standard automated techniques.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Electrical Engineering have developed a system for overcoming this obstacle by treating individual videos like individual creatures, each with their own unique DNA or "genetic code."
Drs. Alex and Michael Bronstein along with Professor Ron Kimmel create a fingerprint for each video file that can be traced and tracked on the Internet even if scenes are altered, colors changed, or the film is a CAM copy.
"It’s not only members of the animal and plant kingdom that can have DNA," says Dr. Bronstein. "If a DNA test can identify and catch criminals, we thought that a similar code might be applicable to video. If the code were copied and changed, we’d catch it."
Dr. Bronstein says he drew inspiration for the system from the type of DNA sequencing tools already in use bioinformatics laboratories.
The way it works is that the system employs an invisible sequence and series of grids applied over the film, turning the footage into a series of numbers. Copyright holders can then use the tool to scan sites that host pirated content for signs of any mutations of the original video.
It’s ostensibly "video DNA matching," detecting aberrations in pirated video in the same way that biologists detect mutations in human genetic code to determine family ancestry.
The researchers say it’s effective even with border changes, commercials added or scenes edited out.
The site they say holds the most potential for the new technique is YouTube whose automated process is unable to detect video that has been altered or edited.