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IndiePix Uses Watermarking to Stop DVD Piracy

IndiePix, the Internet-based distributor of independent films, has implemented state-of-the-art watermarking technology to help reduce illegal DVD downloading, copying and selling.

The New York-based distributor delivers a highly-curated
collection of the best independent films from around the world.
Offering a hand-picked catalogue of over 3,000 titles —
art-house, foreign, and documentary — the IndiePix team selects the
best films from the international festival circuit. Their avenues for
distribution include a patented Download-to-Own technology,
delivery of DVD by mail, retail and theatrical.

Watermarking technology uniquely protects the rights of the filmmaker while also respecting the customer and increasing trust in the buying and selling of intellectual property. All of IndiePix's films offered for download are now embedded with a watermark code that enables security experts and law enforcement officials to trace illegally copied DVDs back to the original disc and the initial download transaction. This technology will work to increase the trust that filmmakers have in the distribution process, as well as deter and pursue individuals and groups that continue to break the law and damage the film industry.

IndiePix "Burn-to-Own" software already keeps the cost of buying a downloadable film to the bare minimum because it takes distribution costs paid to the usual intermediaries – including retail stores, wholesalers and brokers – down to zero. Customers at the IndiePix website have the option of purchasing a physical copy of a film on DVD or burning it to their own PC or MAC. The "Burn-to-Own" copy has a unique code embedded in it throughout the film. This process helps assert the filmmaker's rights, while respecting the consumer's right to do with his disc as he wishes. Copying in quantity and reselling – which are illegal under copyright law – will ultimately result in discs that are traceable to the original transaction.

Scott Abramowitz, Chief Technology Office at IndiePix, explained the Watermarking technology. "Our MPEG video files are already compressed. We wanted to be able to mark those files in such a way that the video quality would be preserved. Every downloaded title includes the presence of the watermark code, a useful "forensic tool" for identifying the source and persons related to the original watermarked film. However, we have implemented this approach at IndiePix, not to identify criminals, but to encourage the social contract between the filmmaker and his customer to respect his creative rights."

Bob Alexander, President at IndiePix, commented: "The film industry has suffered self-inflicted wounds over the issue of piracy, which have only become worse with digital technology and the ability to make 100 percent perfect copies. In a misguided effort, studios have turned to technology to control and prevent behavior rather than encourage respect for the product, the filmmaker's rights, and the rights of the consumer. By emphasizing the social contract between the filmmaker, and by making sure that consumers know that IndiePix's distribution charges are among the lowest in the industry, especially for downloaded titles, we encourage customers to think of their purchase of the filmmaker's work as a way of supporting them and contributing to the future development of their talent. We are convinced that respect for the consumer in a digitally-based transaction is the right way to go to combat piracy."

The IndiePix watermarking technology is patent protected and has been licensed by IndiePix from Pixel Tools, a San Jose based digital imaging technology company. Certain custom modifications for use of the technology by IndiePix have been developed and implemented by Scott Abramowitz and Pixel Tools.