japan antipiracy
Infrared system is invisible to cinemagoers, acts as a spoiler on camcorder copies

Sharp is getting together with the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan to install in cinemas a system able to thwart low-tech movie pirates, according to a report in Japan's Nikkei business pages.

It uses a pattern of near-infrared light shown through the cinema screen, invisible to cinemagoers but all too obvious when the screen is filmed using a camcorder or cameraphone.

Such piracy is still the most common form of illegal movie copying, and the system exploits the greater sensitivity of camera image sensors to near-infrared light. Rows of LEDs behind the screen shine out the light, which shows up on the video as patterns of bright red and green, thus disrupting the viewing of the illegal copy.

It's hoped that a commercial version of the system will be in use within the next couple of years.

The MPPAJ, which represents four major studios – Shochiku, Toho, Toei and Kodokawa – says movie piracy reduces Japanese box-office takings by an estimated 10%.

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