Will Watermarking Deter Piracy?

digThe Digital Watermarking Alliance (DWA) has announced findings from a recently commissioned survey on piracy deterrence. The study, conducted by media and technology measurement and market research firm Interpret, aimed to determine whether the inclusion of Digital Serial Numbers (DSNs) in online content would deter illegal file sharing. The results showed that DSNs would deter illegal downloading among 33 percent of the 994-person sample and deter illegal uploading among 52 percent. DSNs represent a new way to track media content by digitally watermarking audio or video content such as music, movies or TV programming with unique, imperceptible digital identification numbers. Unlike Digital Rights Management, DSNs allow consumers to freely access content and make multiple copies for backup use or for different playing devices. Should the content be used illegally, however, the DSN can be associated back to the original buyer.

Additional findings from the survey:

* The introduction of DSNs would encourage more legal, paid downloads among consumers;
* The illegal downloading of music would be impacted the most with the introduction of DSNs, decreasing by approximately 40 percent;
* DSNs would result in a 45% decrease in the number of P2P users who leave music and video files in shared directories for others to download;
* The vast majority of consumers who download content find DSN technology “less cumbersome” than DRM and a “better balance between consumer needs and copyright protections”; and
* Many consumers would buy more CDs and DVDs when introduced to DSNs.

One conclusion from the survey is that consumers would need to be educated on the differences between DSNs and traditional Digital Rights Management, specifically regarding the legal status of content and the risks of uploading.

Findings from the survey are detailed here.


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