Unauthorized use and copying of software is not only a problem for Microsoft. With Project Argus, Microsoft wants to use Ethereum’s blockchain to fight piracy on the Internet.
Whether it’s pirated software, music or movies, records of customer information from hacks or private photos published without permission – it doesn’t take much expertise to find masses of content on the Internet that has presumably appeared there illegally. IT giant Microsoft has now presented a new approach to combating online piracy in a technical paper. The central element in Argus is the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. On the one hand, it is supposed to guarantee transparency and, on the other hand, make it drastically easier to report cases of piracy, even anonymously.
Microsoft itself is a constant victim of piracy with its programs such as Office and Windows from pirated and illegally used keys. But the scientists behind Argus (Latin for watcher) don’t see their approach as exclusive to Microsoft. Rather, they have identified as a problem in combating IT piracy that many people do not trust the established hotlines. They may be afraid of coming under suspicion of copyright infringement themselves. Argus, as a network, should now make it possible to serve as a whistleblower even anonymously and receive rewards for doing so, if necessary. According to the authors, the Ethereum ecosystem is recommended for Argus because it has earned trust and is suitable for complex tasks.
Argus would effectively serve as a public database for viewing what content is being legally claimed and by whom. Watermarking and tools could make detecting piracy more efficient than before. With ETH as a currency for monetary incentives to report information, Argus is intended to overtake previous industry projects whose pots are rarely accessed. However, Microsoft does not mention a timetable or possible cooperation partners for Argus.
Conclusion: Blockchain for protecting coyprights – Microsoft’s Argus project uncertain
The possibility of using blockchain technology to organize even extensive documentation in a tamper-proof manner is nothing new. At luxury brands such as Breitling or fashion from H&M, such projects are already implemented in the end customer business. What Argus wants from Microsoft now is basically to use money to attract volunteers to discover and report piracy. But the initiators of Argus have already described at least one pitfall themselves: Estimated it would cost about 14 times Ethereum transaction fees each time for whistleblowers to report a case of piracy via the blockchain of ETH. Converted, this is currently well over 100 euros that would have to be spent to perhaps receive a reward later. Thus, Argus will probably remain in the status of an – admittedly exciting – feasibility study for the time being.
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