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What you need to know

  • Microsoft and collaborators are working on a new breed of anti-piracy solution.
  • It will involve the Ethereum blockchain and public piracy reporting.
  • Argus is banking on transparency being an incentive for IP protection.

Microsoft Research Asia, in conjunction with Alibaba Group and Carnegie Mellon University, has cooked up a paper outlining the broad strokes of Argus, a "fully transparent incentive system for anti-piracy campaigns." It relies on cost-effective reporting of piracy via the public Ethereum network (via CoinTelegraph).

The paper breaks down the trio's collective IP protection goals in more detail, as well as how the Argus system puts a stop to traditional methods of peer-policing abuse derived from reward-based greed rather than altruistic intent. Here's an excerpt from the full paper that outlines the specifics of Argus:

To the best of our knowledge, [Argus] is the first public anti-piracy system which (1) does not hinge on any "trusted" role; (2) treats every participant fairly (in particular, it is resilient to greed and abuse, and resolves conclusively every foreseeable conflict); and (3) is efficient and economically practical to run on a public blockchain (e.g. it achieves an impressive off-chain throughput of 82.6 data-trades per second per machine, and incurs only a negligible on-chain cost equivalent to sending 14 ETH-transfer transactions per report on the public Ethereum blockchain).

If you want a quick snapshot overview of Argus, you can check out the paper's abstract on Microsoft's site. Otherwise, the full writeup is linked above for your reading pleasure. It's an incredibly dense paper that dances around clearly stating a true incentive capable of compelling members of the public to tattle on each other over piracy. However, it does do a thorough job of outlining why non-Argus systems for this issue have failed.

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