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Digital Watermarking Showdown
The industry group composed of IBM, Intel, Matsushita Electric, and Toshiba, working with record companies on a content-protection framework for DVD-Audio, is expected to pick a digital-watermarking technology at a June 11 meeting.

The group, commonly called the 4Cs, is expected to choose one of two competing technologies:

  • Developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Aris Technologies.
  • Miami-based Blue Spike Inc.

Both are said to hold essential patents as well as robust watermarking technologies.

In the past several weeks, the group has been conducting a second round of testing on digital-watermarking technologies proposed by Aris, Blue Spike, Cognicity and Solana Technology Development Corp., in addition to the one submitted by IBM.

Although the group's activity is solely focused on DVD-Audio, many industry sources believe the watermarking decision made within the DVD-Audio group will set the tone for what the Secure Digital Music Initiative decides for its copy-protection mechanism.

Record labels see watermarking as a crucial piece of the copy protection system, whether their music is released over the Internet or on DVD-Audio. One senior executive at a California-based record label said, "Sooner or later, any encryption system can be broken. We need watermarking technologies to tell us who did it."

By Junko Yoshida, EE Times

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