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Protection against unapproved copying

Background and Motivation: 

It is deeply recognized that digital data such as computer programs, photographs or music can be easily copied without any loss of quality. Then these copies can be redistributed without permission from the original rights holders. This problem is well-known by producers of programs and there are some methods (or attempts) of protection against unapproved copying. One way of countering unauthorized redistribution is to uniquely mark each individual instance of the originally distributed computer program, so that the recipient (user) can be identified if that content appears on “black market”. The authorized distributor embeds a unique mark, also called a “forensic watermark” or a “fingerprint,” into each instance of the program before transmitting it to the user. The embedding algorithm ensures that the mark is imperceptible, i.e., the program is not spoilt by the mark. Moreover, the location and nature of the mark is kept secret from the user to prevent him from locating and altering the mark. Another way stopping unauthorized redistribution is to include marks in such a way that the program authorization is impossible for “illegal” copy. There are two main implementation problems disturbing to realization of the described program protection scheme in practice. First, it is difficult to include marks in such a way that they cannot be found out. (The point is that it is difficult to find “natural” way to mark the computer programs.) Second, there exists a so-called collusion attack. A group of recipients (called “colluders” or a “coalition”) can collaborate to escape identification. Comparing their program copies, they can find the locations where their content, and thus their marks, differ. By cleverly manipulating the content at those locations, the colluders can attempt to create a version of the content that cannot be traced back to any of them.

Project goals and future research directions: 
<p>In the framework of the suggested project it is planned to develop methods of protection against unapproved copying which will be based on new efficient algorithms intended to overcome the mentioned obstacles. The first algorithm was described in B. Ryabko, D. Ryabko. Information--Theoretic Approach to Steganographic Systems. IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, Proceedings. 2007, Nice, France, pp. 2461-2464, and gives a possibility to include marks in such a way that they cannot be found in principle. The second problem is planned to be solved based on an efficient method against the collusion attack described in G. Tardos, &ldquo;Optimal probabilistic fingerprint coding,&rdquo; in Proc. 35th Annu. ACM Symp. Theory Comput., 2003, pp. 116&ndash;125.</p>
List of team members and their organizations: 

Sergey Balandin (Contact person) Jan-Erik Ekberg (Contact person) Prof. Boris Ryabko (Contact person) Prof. Andrey Fionov Mikhail Zhilkin, PhD Student Ivan Nechta, PhD Student Ekaterina Eltysheva, PhD Student Yulia Medvedeva, Student

Project Timeline and Expected Deliverables: 

1. Construction of algorithm for inclusion marks in computer programs in such a way that the marks cannot be found out based on analysis of one copy of the program. 2. Construction of algorithm for inclusion marks in computer programs in such a way that a coalition of a limited number of colluders (say, 2 or 3) will not be able to escape identification. 3. Computer programs for both algorithms realized on ARMV5 command set. (It is important to note that theoretical properties mentioned in 1 and 2 will be valid for the programs).

Final deadline: 
Friday, April 30, 2010 (All day)