microsoft blockchainbased system pirates

This openness is currently missing from BSA-style reporting mechanisms.

“Industrial alliances and companies are running anti-piracy incentive campaigns, but their effectiveness is publicly questioned due to the lack of transparency. We believe that full transparency of a campaign is necessary to truly incentivize people,” the paper reads.

Piracy Bounty Hunting

The article is full of technical details. We don’t strive to provide a full summary but, simply put, Argus is a transparent system built on the Ethereum blockchain that allows people to anonymously report piracy in exchange for a bounty.

Pirated content is traced back to the source through a unique watermark that corresponds with a secret code.


Ethereum vs pirates: Microsoft is developing a new blockchain product

The largest software developer Microsoft intends with the help of a new product called Argus created on the basis of the Ethereum blockchain to provide the best protection against malicious activity of cyber pirates.

Researchers from Microsoft, Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University have published a study entitled “Argus: A Fully Transparent Anti-Piracy Campaign Incentive System”, which looks at the transparency of blockchain technology used against online piracy.

Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Argus allows tracing back the pirated content to its source using an appropriate watermarking algorithm. Every report of a leak, also called “proof of leak”, includes a procedure for hiding information.

The system allows volunteers to report piracy in exchange for a reward. It uses the Ethereum blockchain and is transparent, practical, and secure, while limiting abusive reports and errors.

Argus is a transparent system built on the Ethereum blockchain that allows people to anonymously report piracy in exchange for a bounty.
Pirated content is traced back to the source through a unique watermark that corresponds with a secret code.

When a pirated copy is reported, the status of the source (licensee) is changed to “accused”. The system provides an appeal option, but if that fails, the accused status changes to “guilty”.

Argus is an open system but there are various safeguards to prevent abuse.

The FCA released guidance aimed at aiding firms from the financial services sector as they move workloads online – from deciding to outsource and selecting a provider, to monitoring how their data is handled. Nivaura has received full regulatory approval from the FCA, which saw the removal of some restrictions and allows the company to operate commercially as a MiFID (arranger) and CASS (custody) firm.

The issuer of the PPNs was Chartered Opus, with the instrument structuring/hedging performed by Marex Solutions.
The notes were structured, marketed and executed using the investment platform ResonanceX, which is built using Nivaura’s software as a solution offering, running on Azure.

He pointed out that a retail firm in the UK used the technology to issue a bond last year and slashed the post trade administration costs, paid by issuers and investors, over the life of the instrument from £30,000 to just £50.

“Very little automation takes place in the financial industry and it’s hard to create something that’s automated but flexible,” Sehra said. “Our system is completely automated, end-to-end. We track all the data, and the money flows in a compliant manner, executing the deal in a legal way and aligning with all regulations.


It makes sense for issuers and investors.”

Nivaura chose to use Microsoft Azure because the platform complies with guidance released by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK’s financial regulator.

Low Blockchain Costs

The system relies on several checks to ensure that the system is open, while avoiding false accusations at the same time. And according to the researchers, the costs of utilizing the blockchain are relatively low.

“We effectively optimize several cryptographic operations so that the cost for a piracy reporting is reduced to an equivalent cost of sending about 14 ETH-transfer transactions to run on the public Ethereum network, which would otherwise correspond to thousands of transactions.

“With the security and practicality of Argus, we hope real-world anti-piracy campaigns will be truly effective by shifting to a fully transparent incentive mechanism,” the researchers add.

Real-World Use?

Whether Microsoft has any plans to test the system in the wild is unknown.

Furthermore, the researchers mention that the costs of implementing the blockchain-based bounty system are also comparatively inexpensive.

“Moreover, we effectively optimize several cryptographic operations so that the cost for a piracy reporting is reduced to an equivalent cost of sending about 14 ETH-transfer transactions to run on the public Ethereum network, which would otherwise correspond to thousands of transactions. With the security and practicality of Argus, we hope real-world antipiracy campaigns will be truly effective by shifting to a fully transparent incentive mechanism,” they say.

We don’t know for certain how or when Microsoft intends on releasing this new blockchain-based anti-piracy bounty system.
As of now, the conjecture suggests that the system will work for all sorts of media, such as images, videos and software.

The Software Alliance (BSA) is also renowned for its piracy bounty system, which rewards volunteers — or whistleblowers, in this case — with cash in exchange for any evidence against pirates.

Recently, Microsoft’s research department in Asia published a research article under the name “Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns”. The research article describes the strategy that the company decides on using to implement its anti-piracy system.
Additionally, the research article also receives input from researchers at Alibaba Group — an e-commerce giant in China — and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The research article advocates for an open and transparent blockchain as a solution to piracy — transparency that The Software Alliance’s (BSA) fails to provide.

“Industrial alliances and companies are running anti-piracy incentive campaigns, but their effectiveness is publicly questioned due to the lack of transparency. We believe that full transparency of a campaign is necessary to truly incentivize people. It means that every role, e.g., content owner, licensee of the content, or every person in the open population, can understand the mechanism and be assured about its execution without trusting any single role,” the research article reads.

In simple words, Argus is an open anti-piracy system based on the Ethereum blockchain that enables whistleblowers (volunteers) to anonymously report pirates in return for a bounty. The reported piracy is tracked back to its source through an uncommon watermark that matches with a secret code.

The introduction of Argus and the efficacy of blockchain technology will help stem these challenges.

Argus in Operation and Gas Fee Workaround

As described in the research paper titled “Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns,” the Microsoft team and its partners said Argus would work through aiding the backtracing of pirated content to the source with a corresponding watermark algorithm.

The protocol also called the “proof of leakage,” will see each report of the leaked content succeeded by an information-hiding procedure. By doing this, only the informer can report the exact watermarked copy without actually owning it.

The entire reporting process on Argus leads to generating a lot of transactions.

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