NHK unveils hidden anti-counterfeit code
Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Japanese public broadcaster NHK today unveiled a new system to put hidden identifiers into films to trace counterfeit works distributed over the Internet. The system, developed with the Japanese technology company Mitsubishi Electric Corp, consists of highly detailed electronic signals which are put inside films and other visual works but invisible to the human eye.

If a person copies the film at a cinema or in front of a television screen, his or her camera will automatically tape the signal which will stay in the machine’s memory. Automatic software can then search the Internet using the coded signal to find any works that have been illegally copied.

“The signal will stay and can be traced, even if only part of the image is put on line,” NHK and Mitsubishi Electric said in a joint statement. ”We hope that this system, once fine-tuned, will manage to better protect the rights of copyright holders,” the companies said, adding they eyed to put it into use soon.

The code can also help authorities trace the exact cinema and screening at which the person illegally taped a film. The entertainment industry complains that piracy is on the rise due to the growing access to high-speed Internet and the increasing sophistication of digital camcorders.

Under pressure from the film industry, Japan’s parliament earlier this year closed a loophole that allowed people to record films in cinemas if strictly for private use. China has come under particular pressure from its trading partners over its huge counterfeit goods industry and has pledged to take action.

Washington filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation against China in April, alleging China’s legal regime for protecting and enforcing copyright and trademark protections was unfairly deficient. Twelve nations including Japan this week launched negotiations in Geneva on drafting a new treaty to crack down on counterfeit products.

(Source: AFP)