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Developments to Watch
A DIGITAL TRACER FOR BLACK MARKET TAPES
Street hawkers of pirated movies and music beware! New digital audio fingerprinting technology from Cyphertech Systems Inc. may soon track down your source.
The Toronto-based company's technology protects film, videotape, and audiotape by inserting a unique digital code at each stage of production. This invisible code can be randomly woven through music, speech, perceived silence, and sound effects without being picked up by the human ear or interfering with sound quality. A data base links the codes with copyright and source information. If a hit movie escapes from a studio and is copied and sold, that digital code is automatically transferred to each copy, so it's easy to trace from whom it was gotten. The codes can also be used to verify when a commercial or program was aired. So Cyphertech envisions setting up listening posts in major cities that would pick up and decode the signal when programs air. That way, media research firms and studios would know what played and how often. Cyphertech President Daniel Wasserman says the product will be on the market by mid-1994.EDITED BY EMILY T. SMITH