Podcast Video | Posted by Phil Leigh on January 19, 2008
Summary: If you would like to learn how digital watermarking can protect media (digital or analog) from piracy and create incremental revenues, this interview is for you. (Part 1 of 2).
Our guest today is Bruce Davis who is the CEO of Digimarc. His company is a pioneer, holding a strong patent portfolio, in the field of digital watermarking. The technology protects media from piracy in both the digital and analog domains. Digital locks alone are useless once the media is rendered into the human analog interface whether it’s via a video display screen, audio speakers, or magazine picture. One problem with trying to protect Digital Media files exclusively with digital locks is that the media ultimately must be rendered in an analog form. For example, if I want to watch a video, ultimately the file must be displayed on my computer monitor and the audio played through my PC’s speakers. That means that if I want to copy it, all I have to do is use screen capture software that is commonly available for $50 or less.
Digital watermarking solves the problem because it is persistent in both the analog and digital domains. In short, a digital watermark is a nearly imperceptible irregularity encoded into the original digital file. Any time the file is copied, the water mark gets copied too. Equally important, when the file is rendered at the human interface, whether it be on a display screen, audio speaker, or magazine page, the watermark is also rendered. Thus, a pirate who copies the analog rendering will also be (unwittingly) copying the watermark. If the copy is not authorized, a compliant playback device, such as a High Definition DVD player, will not play the copied file.
In Part 1 of this interview, we get a PowerPoint presentation that overviews the technology and one of its pioneering companies, Digimarc.
Phil’s Take. Digital watermarking is a fascinating technology largely because it is persistent across both the analog and digital domains. Nonetheless, two basic points may hinder widespread adoption. First, the playback devices have to be made compliant. No PC or appliance manufacturer wants to add any expense to their hardware unless required to do so, or unless they can anticipate that the extra investment will create added revenue. Second, even when adoption moves out of the early adopter stage, digital watermarking must exercise care to avoid the snafus that accompanied DRM.