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Fighting copyright infringement with new watermarking techniques

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Deepayan Bhowmik, Lecturer in the Department of Computing, Sheffield Hallam University.

Copyright theft is losing UK £1.2 billion

Digital Catapult researcher in residence, Deepayan Bhowmik, copyright infringement

Copyright infringement for digital media has surged in recent years with the availability of high speed home broadband and through piracy websites and peer to peer networks e.g., torrent. The creative industries employ 1.7 million people in the UK with a gross added value of £76.9 billion in 2013, accounting for 5% of UK’s economy. Copyright theft equates to a total economic loss of £1.2 billion in the UK.

I am developing watermarking techniques that could protect media copyright information, deter piracy and save jobs.

Fighting copyright infringement could save UK creative industries

I am a lecturer in the Department of Computing, Sheffield Hallam University and recently received a Digital Catapult/ EPSRC fellowship through a 'Research in Residence' programme (2016-17) to work closely with Digital Catapult's Copyright Hub, UK's frontal organisation attempting to work on digital rights management for creative industries.

The aim of my fellowship is to  help Catapult projects, provide thought leadership, and drive the creation of new activities, via a series of short secondments to the Catapult in London.

The project, called 'Self-Embedding Watermarking for Media Copyright Protection', will provide solutions to embedding copyright identifiers within media content securely ,identify potential tampering and recover original media.  I expect benefits will include:

  • improved copyright protection for creative media, existing digital media in the public libraries and the national archives
  • safeguarding jobs in entertainment industries in the UK, EU and globally
  • creating jobs in cyber security domain.

What are the intended outcomes?

I envisage multiple economic and societal benefits such as:

  1. The proposed project can be used as a pilot in solving piracy related problem (benefiting creative industries) and opens up opportunities for media post processing industries, which can use the solution to develop new products / services.
  2. Socially this project enables creative media companies to develop enhanced portfolio of materials of various kinds such as, educational, personal social health, social awareness, constructive developments etc. that can support the teaching in schools and colleges, online personalised learning. The educational institutes and individuals will benefit from access to resources without worrying about infringing copyrights.

Which user communities are likely to benefit?

Industry: The algorithmic development will be open sourced for subsequent development and integration with third party businesses in the UK. This will provide further business opportunities for media post processing industries which can provide solutions using a ‘Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)’ business model.

Public Sector: The benefits also include improved copyright protection for existing digital media in the public libraries and the national archives, deterring piracy, safeguarding jobs in the creative industry in the UK, EU and globally.

Other: A standardisation effort for media digital rights management will provide a leading edge to the UK research community. The dissemination includes plans to contribute towards a newly launched ‘JPEG Privacy & Security’ activity (currently underrepresented by UK researchers) within JPEG standard framework.

General Public: As a part of this project I plan to write blogs and build website to create awareness among member of public about digital rights management and impact of piracy in our society.

Contact me



Twitter: @ditunilu


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