Hannes Mareen won the Agoria Prize 2017

Congratulations to Hannes Mareen, PhD student at IDLab-MEDIA, who won the 10th ‘Agoriaprijs’ (Agoria Prize)! Every year, Scriptie vzw and Agoria Vlaanderen award the strongest technological and innovative master’s thesis in Flanders, Belgium. The thesis is titled “Multimedia Forensics: a Novel Fingerprinting Approach for Digital images and Video”, and describes a novel watermarking method to tackle digital piracy.


Copyright-sensitive or classified videos are commonly leaked or illegally distributed by so-called digital pirates. Video owners aim to prevent this by hiding a unique fingerprint or watermark in every video that contains information about the receiver. If the video is then illegally distributed, the copyright owner can extract the fingerprint and identify the malicious receiver. However, pirates may manipulate the video in the hope of destroying the embedded fingerprint. A variety of solutions exist but these have shortcomings in terms of robustness, perceptibility or scalability. In an effort to address these issues, the dissertation proposes a novel fingerprinting approach applicable to digital video and, by extension, images. The presented scheme artificially introduces few distortions in a video, which are automatically propagated by a fast residual video encoder. Then, the resulting collection of distortions represents the fingerprint. For fingerprint extraction, existing correlation-based techniques are applied in combination with outlier detection. Although the fingerprint introduces a small bit rate overhead, the embedded distortions proved to be imperceptible. Moreover, the scheme demonstrates to be robust against various manipulations. In order to obtain the highest levels of robustness, a low-complexity prediction mechanism that selects the best watermarks should be developed in future research. Consequently, the proposed fingerprinting scheme promises to help combat piracy without bothering innocent users with disturbing side effects.