Video fingerprint could slow web piracy

A new development in video content identification may be able to spot pirate movies uploaded to the Internet in seconds.

Japanese networking outfit NEC says that its new technology generates a unique fingerprint for video content then compares it to the original material in order to detect copied or altered versions.

Even camera-captured movies and those which have been format-shifted or caption overlayed can be detected with an accuracy of 96 per cent, according to the company.

Apparently, the video signatures are extracted for each frame based on differences in the luminance between sets of sub-regions on a frame that are defined by a variety of locations, sizes, and shapes.

The software is capable of identifying clips as short as two seconds and can match 1,000 hours of video in as little as a second on an average spec home PC.

Various methods have been used to digitally watermark video content with very little tangible success, but this trick - which uses data gleaned from the physical attributes of each frame of a clip or movie - could present a formidable challenge to the pirates.

The technology is intriguing, but unless the copyright cops can find some way to force ISPs to implement the software and monitor traffic, we can't really see what use it will be. Unless, of course, you work for the MPAA.