From Copyright and Technology:
We’ve been talking a lot here about blockchain applications for transaction processing in the music industry; in fact we had a panel on it at last week’s conference in NYC. Yet the latest application of blockchain technology to the media industry, from Custos Media Technologies, has nothing to do with music or royalty transaction processing. It has to do with e-books, and the application is copyright monitoring. What does this have to do with blockchain? It enables users to collect bounties for finding potentially infringing files, and the bounties are paid in Bitcoin.
Custos’s technology, which spun out of the MIH Media Lab at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, embeds unique watermarks in EPUB-formatted e-books. It runs a watermark detection service that bounty hunters (yes, the company uses that term) can use to find watermarked files and report them, in return for a private key to a Bitcoin wallet. When a file is reported, Custos returns the identity of the original purchaser to the e-book distributor, which can take legal action or whatever other steps it sees fit.
Custos’s COO Fred Lutz says that the solution is targeted “through online forums such as Reddit and Twitter” to “college-age users who are short on cash and long on time, and who are typically already involved in piracy communities.”
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Techniques used to embed invisible watermarks in e-books include things like embedding hidden data in illustrations, algorithmically altering content other than the actual substance of the book (such as text on a copyright page, index, or page header/footer), inserting non-printing characters, and using identifiers as input to kerning algorithms (for computing the spacing of characters in a line of text). A worst-case solution to any of these techniques is to strip out everything except the actual text and basic markup (paragraph, chapter, bold, italic, etc.).
Custos addresses this by embedding multiple redundant watermarks in each e-book file using different types of techniques. This way, though it’s possible for a hacker to strip out a watermark, the hacker can’t be confident that all of the watermarks have been removed.
Link to the rest at Copyright and Technology