Beaverton-based Digimarc, while far from being a startup, is—like many startups in the Silicon Forest—very much in the position of being way ahead of its time in terms of digital watermarking. (Full disclosure: I used to work there.)
But the impending demise of music DRM may be just the opening Digimarc needs to shine. At least, Wired’s David Kravets thinks so.
In an article entitled “DRM is Dead, But Watermarks Rise From Its Ashes,” he asserts:
Watermarking offers copyright protection by letting a company track music that finds its way to illegal peer-to-peer networks. At its most precise, a watermark could encode a unique serial number that a music company could match to the original purchaser. So far, though, labels say they won’t do that: Warner and EMI have not embraced watermarking at all, while Sony’s and Universal’s DRM-free lineups contain “anonymous” watermarks that won’t trace to an individual.
The article also goes on to mention:
Microsoft is betting on watermarking’s future, winning a patent for a “stealthy audio watermarking” scheme called El Dorado in September.
I’m betting that Digimarc’s digital-watermarking-patent portfolio would likely be an area of interest, as well.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this flag raised. It will be interesting to see if it elicits a rallying cry, this time around.