Microsoft intends to use the Ethereum blockchain to combat piracy

The openness of blockchain technology is key to the major software developer's new effort to tackle piracy.

On all software piracy platforms, the Windows operating system and Office productivity suite have always performed well.

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It's no surprise, then, that Microsoft, the company behind both products, is working hard to put in place anti-piracy safeguards.

The Redmond-based software company investigated a blockchain-based incentive system to enhance anti-piracy measures in a recent report produced by Microsoft's research group, with the assistance of experts from Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University.

Microsoft's new approach is based on the transparency component of blockchain technology, as the title of the study, "Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns," suggests.

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Argus, a trustless incentive mechanism built on the Ethereum blockchain, attempts to secure data acquired from the open anonymous population of piracy reporters.

“We consider this as a distributed system problem,” the report claimed, “and we overcome a set of inherent difficulties in the implementation to assure security despite full transparency.”

With a watermark mechanism that is explained in the paper, Argus allows backtracing of pirated content to its source.

Each report of leaked content has an information-hiding technique, which is also known as "evidence of leakage."

No one other than the informer will be able to report the identical watermarked copy unless they genuinely own it.

To prevent an informer from reporting the same leaked content under different identities, the system contains incentive-reducing protections.

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“We expect that by changing to a completely open incentive mechanism, real-world antipiracy initiatives will be truly effective,” the research stated.

The team optimized several cryptographic operations “so that the cost for piracy reporting is reduced to the 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, which details the issue of Ethereum network fees.

Protecting intellectual property and combating digital piracy has become a top priority for tech corporations throughout the world.

Tech Mahindra, the Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group's IT division, recently developed a new blockchain-based digital contracts and rights platform for the media and entertainment business based on IBM's Hyperledger Fabric protocol.

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