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February 17, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Five computer and consumer electronics companies have decided that it is in their best interests to cooperate on anti-privacy technology. Calling themselves the Galaxy group, Hitachi Ltd, IBM Corp, NEC Corp, Pioneer Electronic Corp and Sony Corp have agreed to unify their approaches to invisible electronic watermarking for digital movies and video. Digital watermarks are seen by content providers as the chief weapons in their war on unauthorized copying of content, so the idea of standardizing watermarks – invisible data hidden inside music or an image that enables or disables copying mechanisms – has been around for several years. These five companies were among eleven to propose solutions to the Data Hiding Sub Group (DHSG) of the Copyright Protection Technical Working Group (CPTWG) way back in September 1997. After the first round of evaluation, the members of the Galaxy group decided to improve their chances by joining forces. Other rivals dropped out, leaving only Philips, Macrovision and Digimarc backing a competing proposal. The Galaxy group now hopes to develop a single watermark for initial release on digital versatile disk (DVD) systems. In future, the watermark will be adapted for use in content distributed via digital broadcasts and networks. With watermarks in place, copyright owners should be able to specify whether content can be copied freely, only once or not at all. This is supposed to encourage owners to provide consumers with a variety of content.

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