Using science to go after movie pirates

By Motoko Kakubayashi 28/09/2009

Japanese scientists have found a way to block parts of the movie screen from the camera of a would-be pirated movie maker.

A week ago, National Institute of Informatics associate professor Isao Echizen and electronics manufacturer Sharp announced they had made a device which sends out near-infrared rays which erases images recorded on a camera.

By putting a noise light unit behind a movie screen, the device sends out near-infrared rays outwards into the movie theatre.

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Humans cannot see infrared light, but CCD and CMOS sensors in today’s digital video cameras can detect them.

The device’s interference washes out images in front of the noise light unit and makes it impossible to record a clean movie.


Mr Echizen said it is easy to find places where pirated movies are being sold or downloaded, but it is impossible to find where and when the movie itself gets recorded.

It was important to focus on a way which could stop recording in the first place, he said.

Not only could their device stop movies being illegally recorded, it could also become a tool for new digital signs.

The noise light units will be unveiled at the 2009 International Workshop on Information Systems for Social Innovation in Tokyo next Wednesday.

Images from National Institute of Informatics and