Spy Cameras, Secret Audio Help Fight Movie Piracy

Published on August 13, 2013
by Erich Schwartzel

If all the sounds of the summer blockbuster “Man of Steel” were stripped away — from the whoosh of Superman’s cape to the explosions that destroy skyscrapers — a light humming would still be heard.

The barely audible noise is an audio watermark intended to be Kryptonite for the digital pirates who circulate illegal copies of movies.

Designed by engineers at San Diego company Verance Corp., the watermark is a unique signal to Blu-ray disc players that the movie being watched was illegally recorded at a movie theater. After 20 minutes of playtime, the disc player shuts the movie down and offers the viewer the chance to continue watching — by paying for the movie through legitimate sources like Inc. and Netflix Inc.

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