Η Microsoft is one of the most important copyright holders in the world with vast experience in the fight against piracy.
The company is part of the Software Alliance (BSA of the Business Software Alliance), which is known to monitor copyright infringement.
The BSA is also known to promise informants monetary rewards in exchange for useful information. This is a controversial strategy that Microsoft's research team hopes to improve.
A few days ago, Microsoft Research published an article entitled: Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns (PDF), in which it presents the details of its plan.
The study, which contains information from researchers at Alibaba University and Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that an open and transparent blockchain. Openness is currently lacking in BSA mechanisms, according to the study.
"Industrial alliances and companies are running anti-piracy campaigns, but their effectiveness is being publicly questioned due to a lack of transparency. We believe that full transparency of a campaign is necessary to really motivate people. "
The article is full of technical details, but in simple words, we could describe Argus as a transparent system based on the Ethereum blockchain that will allow people to report piracy anonymously for a fee.
The pirated content will be detected by the source through a unique watermark that will correspond to a secret code. When a pirated copy is mentioned, the status of the source (beneficiary) changes to "accused". The system also provides an option of appeal, but if this is not done, the situation of the accused changes to "guilty".
Argus relies on multiple controls to ensure the system is fully open while avoiding any false accusations. And according to researchers, the cost of using blockchain is relatively low (to pay informants).
We do not know if Microsoft plans to test this system at some point. Theoretically it will work with different types of media such as images, video, audio and software.
Of course we can not know how effective the system will be. Researchers "assume" that the watermarking technology used will not be able to break, which is not always the case.
The Argus document and system will be presented at the forthcoming 40th International Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems, which will take place in late September.