Chroma Shift — Combatting Digital Priacy

Stephen Yagielowicz

A look at one of the latest technologies to enable adult entertainment copyright holders to fight piracy at its source.

There’s a new way to fight piracy for artists and photographers who want to show their work online, but fear being victimized by unauthorized file sharing. The solution is Chroma Shift, a server-side digital rights management (DRM) system that allows content providers to embed user identification into JPEG images using steganography, a method allowing users to trace pirated content to the original offender.

We had to find a solution in which the embedded data would remain intact to the point the image was undesirable or destroyed if a pirate tried to alter it.

According to the company, steganography embeds a user defined message, such as the member’s ID or other identifying information, into most downloaded digital images — but unlike a watermark, steganography is virtually imperceptible to the naked eye.

Chroma Shift CEO, Alexander Fotios, says the company’s groundbreaking piracy mitigation solution for adult entertainment industry and mainstream graphic artists and content producers doesn’t stop theft, but it will identify the source of content leaks, so that website administrators can immediately terminate the offending user account.

“You have the user ID of the member who leaked the content to file sharing sites or bit-torrent, embedded in the actual photo or other graphic that they downloaded from your site,” Fotios stated. “From there it’s a simple matter of matching the user ID to your membership logs, terminating their account and logging their copyright infringements for potential prosecution.”

Developed in C for the Linux platform, Chroma Shift compiles into a PHP loadable module that is accessible by a site’s internal PHP scripts, while providing the speed of a natively compiled program.

This allows for embedded steganographic information to be created dynamically, directly through the website; with options to embed a traditional watermark on all images passed through the Chroma Shift plug-in, making the system more highly customizable.

Fotios says the best part is that the embedded information persists in the JPEG image even when scaled, cropped, PhotoShop filtered, recompressed or otherwise manipulated — explaining that pirates cannot remove the Chroma Shift data without degrading image quality to the point where it loses much of its value. This high level of persistence is cited by Jeremy Bernal, founder of furry niche anime sites and, as a reason for embracing the Chroma Shift PHP plug-in as a preferred DRM solution for their site’s member’s areas — providing an extra layer of protection for managing their copyrighted images.

“We had to find a solution in which the embedded data would remain intact to the point the image was undesirable or destroyed if a pirate tried to alter it, and that’s where Chroma Shift came in,” Bernal explains. “Not only does it help us stop piracy but it is cost-effective.”

Given the financial losses due to copyright infringement, saving money is important. “Filing copyright lawsuits is expensive; even sending out registered cease-and-desist letters is expensive,” Bernal concludes. “But cutting off the pirate’s access and keeping the evidence on hand should litigation become necessary, is very cost-effective in the long run using Chroma Shift.”


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