Complementing DRM with digital watermarking: mark, search, retrieve

Date27 February 2007
Published date27 February 2007
AuthorPatrick Wolf,Martin Steinebach,Konstantin Diener
Subject MatterInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
Complementing DRM with digital
watermarking: mark, search,
Patrick Wolf, Martin Steinebach and Konstantin Diener
Fraunhofer IPSI, Darmstadt, Germany
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how digital watermarking can be applied to assist
and improve cryptography-based digital rights management (DRM) systems by allowing the
protection of content beyond the domain protected by the DRM system.
Design/methodology/approach – Digital watermarking is a passive technology, not allowing the
active prevention of copyright violations. But it allows the irreversible linking of information with
multimedia data, ensuring that an embedded watermark can be retrieved even after analogue copies.
Therefore watermarking can be used where DRM fails: whenever content needs to be moved out of the
protected DRM domain, e.g. when playing back content via analogue output channels it can mark the
content with information that would help to identify its origin if it is used for copyright violations. The
remaining challenge now is to find the marked content within the channels regularly used for
copyright violations. The paper therefore introduces a concept for scanning file sharing networks for
marked content.
Findings – The vast number of files present in the file sharing networks prohibits every approach
based on completely scanning and analysing each file. Therefore concepts for filtered search queries
where only potentially watermarked files are downloaded are discussed.
Originality/value – The paper shows how watermarking can be applied as a technology to allow
active content protection beyond the limitations of current DRM systems.
Keywords Data security, Digitalstorage, Mark scanning equipment
Paper type Conceptual paper
Security challenges for digital media
Recent advances in multimedia document production, delivery and processing,
including the wide availability of increasingly powerful devices for the production,
communication, copying and processing of electronic documents, have made a large
number of new opportunities available for the dissemination and consumption of
multimedia content. At the same time these rapid developments have raised several
important problems regarding intellectual property, digital rights management,
authenticity, privacy, conditional access and security that risk impeding the diffusion
of new services. Issues such as Internet piracy or electronic documents forgery may
have a substantial negative impact on the commercial exploitation of the possibilities
already offered by multimedia technology. Resolving these issues would provide new
impetus to a more rapid introduction of products and services, benefiting both industry
and consumers. Digital rights management (DRM) aims to be such a solutio n.
First attempts at DRM relied on cryptography, particularly since cryptography
proved so useful for secure transmission of digital data through public channels.
Unfortunately, when cryptography alone is applied to protect multimedia applications,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Article received
25 September 2006
Reviewed by EuDiRights
Workshop Committee
Approved for publication
10 October 2006
Online Information Review
Vol. 31 No. 1, 2007
pp. 10-21
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/14684520710731001

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