Filmoteka Narodowa, the Polish national film archive, is deploying digital watermarking technology from Dutch content protection specialist Civolution to trace content it provides to licensees. The NexGuard forensic watermarking system will enable Filmoteka Narodowa to watermark SD or HD videos with an imperceptible unique identifier, and it includes the tools and detection methods to identify the content subsequently within unauthorized distribution channels, whether broadcast or on the Internet.
It was essential for Filmoteka Narodowa to allow access to its cinematographic heritage while protecting its value and revenues, according to Paweł Śmietanka, director of the restoration department at Filmoteka Narodowa. The film archive is one of the largest in Europe with around 15,000 titles, hosting a highly valuable collection of Polish cinematography documenting the country’s rich and sometimes tragic cultural history.
The key to the choice of Civolution, apart from the fact that there are few vendors to choose from in this specialized field, was the ability to apply watermarks and track content afterward without interrupting the digital workflow. Digital watermarking is one of two somewhat complementary technologies for identifying and tracing video content, the other being video fingerprinting. Watermarking involves insertion of some digital code that cannot readily be detected and is resistant both to tampering and degradation through repeated compression cycles, enabling the content to be uniquely identified at any stage of its life cycle. The second category, video fingerprinting, adds nothing, instead extracting unique features from a stream or unit of digital content that then serves as a concise template for subsequent identification. The two have overlapping but distinct applications.
Because watermarks must be inserted into the video, they only identify copies of the particular video made after that point in time. For example, if a watermark is inserted at broadcast, it cannot be used to identify copies of the video made before the broadcast. But, this does enable content to be traced accurately throughout its life cycle, because multiple independent watermarks can be inserted into the same video content at different stages. Detecting these watermarks can indicate the source of an unauthorized copy.
Video fingerprinting does not rely on any addition to the video stream. Video fingerprinting systems are less useful for tracing content through the life cycle because they do not identify different points in the distribution chain and must search potentially large databases of reference fingerprints, whereas a watermark detection system only has to perform computation to detect a specific the watermark.
On the other hand, video fingerprinting by definition is totally tamper resistant and cannot be removed because it does not require any addition to the video stream in the first place. It is of particular interest for enforcing digital rights management, particularly over the Internet. In this case, video fingerprinting systems enable content providers such as film studios to determine if any of the publisher's files contain content registered with the fingerprint service. If registered content is detected, the publisher can take appropriate action, which could be to remove it from the site or even to monetize it.
Video fingerprinting can also be used directly for monetization, for example, by monitoring the consumption of advertisements or premium content. Video fingerprinting can also used by cyber enforcement agencies to track the distribution of illegal content.