Automated technology to detect pirated content has been tried before, but the results are usually a mess of false positives and misses. NEC claims their new video identification system can succeed where the others have failed. According to NEC, the technology has a detection rate of 96% and a suspiciously good false positive rate of 1 in 5 million.
The NEC detection system works by creating a digital fingerprint from the original content. The files are 76 bytes in size per frame, making storage of many fingerprints doable. The system can work with scenes as short as two seconds; say goodbye to fair use. NEC is also claiming it can detect content that has been altered by converting it from digital to analog, or filming in a theater. It is unclear if a video can be manipulated sufficiently to evade the filter.
The technology is on its way to being integrated into the upcoming MPEG-7 media standard. We'll be interested to see if NEC is promising more than it can deliver here. It sounds like Star Trek level tech to us.