Microsoft’s research group explored a blockchain-based incentive system to boost anti-piracy operations in a recent report published with the cooperation of experts from Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University. On every software piracy platform, the Windows operating system and Office productivity suite have always been top performers. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Microsoft, the creator of both programs, is working hard to implement anti-piracy mechanisms.

Microsoft’s new system, Argus, is based on the transparency element of blockchain technology, as the title of the study implies. Argus is a trustless incentive system built on the Ethereum blockchain that attempts to secure data acquired from the open anonymous population of piracy reports.

With a watermarking method disclosed in the article, Argus allows backtracing of pirated content to its source. Each report of leaked content includes an information-hiding method, often known as “evidence of leaking.” No one but the informer will be able to report the identical watermarked copy unless they truly possess it. The system also has protections in place to prevent an informer from repeatedly submitting the same leaked material under multiple names.

The researchers improved various cryptographic procedures such that the cost for piracy reporting is lowered to the equivalent of sending around 14 ETH-transfer transactions to execute on the public Ethereum network, which would otherwise equate to thousands of transactions, according to the study.

Intellectual property protection and digital piracy have become more important to IT firms throughout the world. Recently Tech Mahindra, the IT division of Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, has announced a new blockchain-based digital contracts and rights platform for the media and entertainment sector based on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric technology.

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