- Microsoft is taking its anti-piracy concerns very seriously and turning to blockchain tech for help.
- The company’s research department has released a research paper suggesting this.
- It will enable backtracking of pirated content and have incentive-reducing safeguards.
The paper contains contributions from researchers from Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University. It studies a blockchain-based incentive system to push anti-piracy campaigns. Titled Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns, the study suggests that Microsoft rely on blockchain’s transparency aspect. Since they will build it on the Ethereum blockchain, Argus will provide a trustless incentive mechanism. At the same time, it will protect data collected from the open anonymous population of piracy reporters.
The paper says:
We see this as a distributed system problem… In the implementation, we overcome a set of unavoidable obstacles to ensure security despite full transparency.
To that end, Argus enables backtracking of pirated content to the source with a corresponding watermark algorithm that is detailed in the paper. The research has coined the term “proof of leakage” where each report of leaked content involves an information-hiding procedure. Using this method, no one but the informer can report the same watermarked copy without actually owning it.
The proposed system also has incentive-reducing safeguards to prevent informers from reporting the same leaked content over and over under different aliases. About these protective and well-thought-out measures the report stated:
With the security and practicality of Argus, we hope real-world antipiracy campaigns will be truly effective by shifting to a fully transparent incentive mechanism.
Further, on the issue of Ethereum network fees, the paper explained that the team optimized several cryptographic operations to ensure that the cost of piracy reporting is reduced. To specify, they aim to reduce the cost to the equivalent cost of sending about 14 ETH-transfer transactions. As per the team, this would have otherwise corresponded to “thousands of transactions.”
Being a software industry leader as the developer of both the Windows operating system and the Office suite, Microsoft is obviously putting a lot into its piracy concerns.