A digital watermark to prevent piracy

Hannes Mareen
04 February 2018 |

Is the door about to slam on the millions of viewers who download their favourite box sets illegally? In his master's thesis in Computer Sciences, Hannes Mareen has worked out a way to thwart digital piracy.

‘Everyone downloads something illegally at some time, but it's costing the film industrie about EUR 130 billion a year. No woner they are desperate for an answer. One source of illegal downloads is the film critic. They receive an avant première of, say, Game Of Thrones, to write a review. Every version has a unique letter code, to stop them from leaking the video. It makes the video difficult to watch, and it can be easily deleted.

That got me looking for an invisible and indelible watermark. Videos get compressed to make them easier to disseminate digitally. The video-encoder does this by predicting small areas of a video on the strength of other small areas: in. a video about forest, for example, it predicts that one leaf will appear beside another. It makes tiny errors in the process, which hardly anyone notices. I introduce my watermark during compressssion, by stubtly altering a tiny region. Then the software generates more alterations automatically. This unique collection of alterations - invisible and indelible - is my watermark. I've since received an SB grant from the FWO to develop the. method further in a PhD - and for my thesis I won the Agoria Prize, for the best thesis on technological innovation.’

Read also

Streaming, online TV or traditional TV viewing... How do you know where to watch?

Worldwide we are experiencing a real platformania: video-streaming platforms are popping up everywhere. But which platform is your best choice these days? And is it time to get rid of that traditional TV subscription?


These top-class students went all the way to the semi-final of the Campus Cup

Where can you find the smartest students? That’s the ultimate question in the Campus Cup, which switched from Canvas to channel Eén for its third edition. Six different teams from Ghent University took part, and the team from Applied Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy went all the way to the semi-final. Here’s more about the students’ experience.

Otto-Jan Ham

In search for a solution against the spread of fake news

The term “fake news” takes on a life of its own and is used inappropriately. “And too often incorrectly,” say researchers Dr. Kristin Van Damme, Glen Joris and Bart Vanhaelewyn, “which is an even bigger problem than fake news itself.”