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Scientists Sock It To Software Pirates

Scientists at the University of Auckland are finding solutions to safeguard our computer software and our intellectual property.

Research leader Clark Thomborson said that software piracy is costing the New Zealand software industry at least $30 million a year.

"We have developed a new software-watermarking system, called SandMark to help lower this cost," said Professor Thomborson.

"Theft occurs when software is copied for resale or other illegal use. Our protection software will ensure that intellectual property, created by New Zealand software developers, generates income for New Zealand."

The new software allows developers to embed their name and other identifying information, in the software products they sell. The research is an investment of the Foundation for Research Science and Technology through its New Economy Research Fund. This fund supports innovation which develops skills and knowledge in new and emerging industries.

"Software pirates will fail in any attempts they may make to remove the SandMark that would reveal the identity of the original author," said Professor Thomborson.

"We believe the SandMark will survive the most powerful automated removal methods currently available to any pirate.

"Any successful, non-automated removal of the SandMark will be more expensive than a complete redevelopment of the software product."

SandMark is currently being tested and improved, in computer science laboratories here and overseas. Professor Thomborson is currently recruiting MSc and PhD students into the SandMark research team.

For further information:

Clark Thomborson, University of Auckland cthombor@cs.auckland.ac.nz Tel 09 3737-599 x5753, www.cs.arizona.edu/sandmark

Madeleine Setchell, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 498 7806, Mobile 025 40 60 40, madelein@frst.govt.nz


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