Los Angeles, CA—Sep 5, 2006
Kodak to Help Discourage Theft of Digital Movies
Licenses Thomson watermarking solution to identify source of copies
Kodak Digital Cinema announced today it is licensing Thomson’s NexGuard digital cinema watermarking solution for inclusion in its CineServer, a key component in Kodak’s networked system for full digital cinema presentations. Watermarking technology provides a highly-reliable way to trace the date and location where a pirated movie has been copied, without disrupting the movie-going experience.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), global theft of movies amounted to $18.2 billion in 2005 alone.
“Stolen movies are often available on DVDs within hours after they premiere by thieves who are sophisticated and devious,” said Les Moore, chief technology officer for Kodak Digital Cinema. “They copy the movie with a camcorder in one theatre and, sometimes in another, tap into a hearing-impaired loop to get a clean, stereo audio track, recording different language versions, when necessary. Watermarking enables the industry to identify the location of their copying and support prosecution of the people involved.”
Digital watermarking, such as the Thomson NexGuard solution, embeds an indelible and invisible ‘message’ into both the image and the audio track of the motion picture as it passes through the server. Audiences can’t see or hear it and it doesn’t noticeably distort the movie in any way. But the watermark contains information such as the date, time, and location of the projection.
“Once it has been embedded, the data survives,” said Moore, “even if the movie is cropped, compressed, duplicated, reduced in image resolution, or converted to a CD or DVD. A pirated copy with an audio track and the picture from two different locations will contain both watermarks.”
In the Thomson NexGuard system, the data is extracted from the watermark in a special Reader, used to decode the camcorder copy. The Reader and Kodak’s CineServer share secret keys – much like those used to scramble and unscramble the digital movie.
“To design our solution, we worked closely with the industry’s Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) team,” said Jean-Michel Masson, general manager, Thomson Content Security, “and we comply fully with their evolving specifications. Our approach works with all aspect ratios and at 2K as well as 4K projection, so it’s not only the right solution for today, it makes sense as the industry advances for the future.”
“We like that Thomson provides a full solution for picture as well as audio, that they’ve gained the approval of studios, and that they provide long term service and support,” said Moore.
“Our solutions are the leading products of choice for companies that seek to set the standards for image quality and security in the cinema,” said Thomson’s Masson, “We’re thrilled to be working with Kodak, in this drive to mitigate the threat of content piracy. As they put our solution through their own internal tests, we’re confident it will fully meet their expectations.”
Kodak will include the NexGuard into its future CineServers, and may also offer it as an upgrade to the current generation. When activated by server software, the watermarking will take place without any user involvement. It cannot be ‘switched off’ by the exhibitor. “One of our industry partners has already told us they’ve used watermarking technology to trace illegal copies of DVDs they’ve found for sale in China back to their source,” said Moore. “Watermarking is one more digital tool to track down and identify thieves, and to discourage theft of movies. We know it works -- and our agreement with Thomson enables us to include it in the Kodak Digital Cinema solution.”