Movie Theatres to Use Infra-Red to Foil Pirates

A new method for preventing pirates from recording films at movie theatres was recently unveiled by the Japanese National Institute of Informatic. The institute, in co-operation with Sharp, has developed a technique to render any recording unwatchable by flashing pulses of infra-red (IR) light from behind the cinema screen. The pulses pass through tiny holes in the screen originally designed to allow through sound, and cause interference to any video cameras held by members of the audience.

The IR light, while invisible to human eyes, is also impossible to filter out without rendering the recording too blurry to watch. The team says best results are achieved at a speed of 10 pulses per second. The technique was developed by a team led by Associate Professor Isao Echizen, who tested the effects of various wavelengths of invisible light on video cameras.

Films screened at cinemas are already digitally watermarked to prevent them from being copied digitally, but there has been no way of reliably stopping pirates from recording films using video cameras. The damage caused by bootleg film recordings is estimated at around 3 billion dollars a year, according to the American Film Institute, compounded by advances in camera technology resulting in better quality recordings, and the spread of video camera-equipped cell phones and Internet video sharing sites.

Source: Elektor