Microsoft intends to combat piracy by using the Ethereum blockchain.

On every software piracy platform, the Windows operating system and Office productivity suite have always been top performers. It's no surprise, therefore, that Microsoft, the creator of both programs, is working hard to implement anti-piracy mechanisms.

Microsoft's research group examined a blockchain-based incentive system to strengthen anti-piracy efforts ina recent study published with the involvement of experts from Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University.

Microsoft's new system, Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns, is based on the transparency element of blockchain technology, as the title of the study indicates. Argus is a trustless incentive system built on the Ethereum blockchain that seeks to safeguard data gathered from the open anonymous population of piracy reports.

“We view this as a distributed system problem,” the study said, “and we overcome a set of inevitable hurdles in the implementation to guarantee security despite complete transparency.”

With a watermark technique described in the article, Argus allows backtracing of pirated material to its source. Each report of leaked material includes an information-hiding process, often known as "evidence of leaking." No one except the informer will be able to report the identical watermarked copy unless they really possess it.

The system also has protections in place to prevent an informer from repeatedly submitting the same leaked information under various identities. “We believe that real-world antipiracy efforts will be really successful by moving to a completely transparent incentive mechanism,” the study said, citing the security and practicality of Argus.

The researchers improved numerous cryptographic processes “so that the cost for pirate reporting is lowered to the equivalent of sending approximately 14 ETH-transfer transactions to execute on the public Ethereum network, which would normally equate to thousands of transactions,” according to the study.

Intellectual property protection and digital piracy have become more important to IT businesses across the globe. Tech Mahindra, the IT division of Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, has unveiled a new blockchain-based digital contracts and rights platform for the media and entertainment sector based on IBM's Hyperledger Fabric technology.

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