• Microsoft intends to use the Ethereum blockchain to combat piracy

  • The Windows operating system and Office productivity suite have always been among the best performers on software piracy platforms. So it’s no surprise that Microsoft, the creator of both products, works hard to implement anti-piracy measures.

    The Redmond-based software giant studied a blockchain-based incentive system to bolster anti-piracy campaigns in a new paper released by Microsoft’s research department, with the participation of researchers from Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University.

    As the study’s title, Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns, implies, Microsoft’s new system is based on the transparency of blockchain technology. Argus, which is built on the Ethereum blockchain, aims to provide a trustless incentive mechanism while also protecting data collected from an open anonymous population of piracy reporters.

    According to the paper, “we see this as a distributed system problem,” and “in the implementation, we overcome a set of unavoidable obstacles to ensure security despite full transparency.”

    With a corresponding watermark algorithm detailed in the paper, Argus enables backtracing of pirated content to its source. Each report of leaked content includes an information-hiding procedure, which is also known as “proof of leakage.” This way, no one else can report the same watermarked copy without actually owning it, except the informer.

    The system also includes incentive-reducing safeguards to prevent an informant from repeatedly reporting the same leaked content under different aliases. “With the security and practicality of Argus, we hope that real-world antipiracy campaigns will be truly effective by shifting to a fully transparent incentive mechanism,” according to the report.

    The team optimized several cryptographic operations “so that the cost for piracy reporting is reduced to an equivalent cost of sending about 14 ETH-transfer transactions to run on the public Ethereum network, which would otherwise correspond to thousands of transactions,” according to the paper.

    Globally, technology companies are increasingly concerned with protecting intellectual property and combating digital piracy. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Tech Mahindra, the IT subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, recently launched a new blockchain-based digital contracts and rights platform for the media and entertainment industries based on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric protocol.

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