DD deploys digital watermarking to combat piracy

MUMBAI: National broadcaster Doordarshan has taken the lead on a trial basis to apply technology to strengthen worldwide efforts to identify video pirates.

The trial with Doordarshan was initiated by First Serve Entertainment, which represents USA Video Interactive Corp, and exclusively markets and sells MediaSentinel technology in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and non- exclusively in other parts of the world.

According to First Serve Entertainment Inc. COO Munish Gupta, Doordarshan's recent decision to deploy digital watermarking in a three-month trial puts the world on notice that India isn't among nations content to simply wring their hands and do little more than decry the theft and unauthorized reproduction of movies, television broadcasts and similar digital products.
Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma says, MediaSentinel's digital watermarking technology will provide Indian and international law enforcement officials an effective means of tracing and catching pirates.

"Prasar Bharati's initiative to watermark media broadcast on Doordarshan should stimulate a wave of interest, not only across China and the rest of Asia, where piracy is believed to cause billions of dollars of losses, but also in the US, which suffers many of those losses," Sarma said. "We are pleased to have this trial period underway to demonstrate the value of this technology to media producers everywhere."

"Hollywood and the world's other media centers have basically been sitting back and complaining that something needs to be done," Gupta says.

"Doordarshan is first among the world's large networks and the only nationally run public broadcaster that's stepped up to the plate to respond to the challenges of media piracy with robust technology that places a unique digital watermark on every single frame of a movie or television broadcast. The message they're sending to the world by implementing MediaSentinel, an anti-piracy workstation developed by USVO, is 'we hear you and help is on the way!'"

India has long been on the US Trade Representative's Special 301 Priority Watch List, as a result of generally weak enforcement of intellectual property laws.

According to a 2005 Watch List report, piracy of motion pictures and other intellectual property in India cost the US media producers alone more than $500 million in 2004.

India is the second most populous country in the world, with a population of over one point one billion. The Indian film industry's output is the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and in number of tickets sold.

"Bollywood," the informal name for the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India, is a strong part of popular culture in India and the rest of the Indian subcontinent, as well as the Middle East, parts of Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and among South Asians worldwide.

During the last 10 years, the Indian government has deregulated electronic media by allowing private and even limited foreign investments stimulating the launch of nearly 100 television channels.

These new channels uplink from India and are beamed via satellite into the country and carried via cable and Direct To Home (DTH) systems. Also, India's film industry today enjoys growing investment by foreign financiers, foreign co-productions and significant revenues from overseas exploitation of films.

Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning to set up three high powered expert committees to prevent the growing menace of video piracy of feature films.

"We are pleased that the government-owned Doordarshan network, one of the most important broadcasters in the world, has stepped to the forefront to make India a leader in watermarking as forensic tool for anti-piracy efforts," said USVO CEO Edwin Molina.

"This is an important move that will likely spur Hollywood and the movie and video products industries in other nations to replicate as a means of furthering worldwide intellectual property rights enforcement in the near future, adds Molina.

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