Tech Tips - Custom Forensic Watermarking of Downloadable DVDs

MPEGEscort details

Easy method for embossing MPEG videos

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is proving to be unpopular as users who purchase licensed content then find that their fair use is annoyingly controlled. An alternative, less restrictive approach that is gaining in popularity is to invisibly emboss the licensor/licensee information into the content (including all copies of it) in a way that it can be extracted later.  Fair use of purchased copyrighted content is allowed, but illegal publishing or copyright infringement can be forensically traced to the licensee.

PixelTools’ MPEGEscort™ can emboss MPEG video with data containing licensee or transaction information, for later recovery.

For the past year, IndiePix Corporation ( has been successfully protecting Independent Film content with forensic watermarking.

Download to obtain a limited evaluation copy of MPEG Escort.  The instructions describe how to insert your sample text as a watermark to any MPEG video and later extract that text to a file or as an overlay of text on the decoded frames.

Forensic Watermarking

The beauty of the MPEGEscort™ watermarking approach is that the actual embossing of data can occur very rapidly and with little computation at any place in the video delivery chain, including at the client site. The watermarking process occurs in two stages. For each video to be watermarked, MPEGEscort™ first analyzes the video to locate the suitable marking sites. This process runs faster real time on a typical computer. For added security, the site selection is a function of a security key. When content is purchased, it is transmitted to the customer’s computer where The second stage of MPEGEscort™ inserts the transaction-specific watermark data at the pre-selected watermarking sites before burning the video as a DVD. This second stage of watermarking requires little computer power running much faster than real-time on a typical user’s computer.

escort screen

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Transcoding source can be any multiplexed or elementary MPEG 1 or MPEG 2 source file including transport, program, VOB, and system streams.   The H.264 encoding can be to baseline, main or extended profile at levels 1.0 through 5.1. Encoding can be from all I frame through only one I frame per video.  Encoding can use from 1 through 5 reference frames. Frame sizes can be from 16x16 through 16384 x 16384. Encoding can be constant quantization (variable bit-rate) or constant bit-rate.


MPEGEscort™ can watermark any multiplexed or elementary MPEG video with user data. MPEG streams can be Program, VOB, Transport, System, or Elementary.

The watermark is not visually discernible but can be reliably extracted using the MPEGEscort™ extraction mode.

Watermark data bit-rate varies with content. For a typical 6 mbps DVD VOB, MPEG Escort can typically add up to 3000 bits per second (which can be throttled to be less). 

MPEGEscort™ can watermark during encoding, or to an existing stream after encoding.  The two stages of  watermarking (analysis then insertion) can be performed in 2 passes, separable in both time and location.  Or, watermarking can also be accomplished in a single integrated pass.


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