Monday, 22 May 2017 10:50

Indian pirates' extortion bid comes unstuck

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Digital watermarks embedded in a copied digital print of the Indian blockbuster Bahubali 2 – The Conclusion led police in the Indian city of Hyderabad to the theatre from which the copy had been made, and thence to the men who had attempted to use the stolen print to extort money.

According to published reports, the men, who were trying to capitalise on the runaway success of the film, contacted the producers, Arka Mediaworks, and demanded 1.5 million rupees (A$31,250) to prevent them from distributing pirated copies of the film.

Arka contacted the police who advised them to ask for proof that a copy of the film had indeed been made, upon which a portion of a HD version of the film was sent to the distributors.

Embedded in this part of the film was the watermark that identified the specific theatre from which the source had been obtained to create the copy.

Since the copy had been made digitally, it meant that whoever made the copy had got hold of the encryption key used to decrypt the original film.

The men behind the extortion bid were arrested; some of them were found to have tried a similar tactic with the first of the Bahubali films in 2015.

In the US, an individual known by the moniker TheDarkOverlord attempted to extort Netflix over the series Orange is the new black in April.

And in March, another individual used a threat to leak the film Boss Baby to extort money from 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks. In this case, the studios paid a sum in Bitcoin but the person behind the extortion was arrested.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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