Argus: A Fully Transparent Incentive System for Anti-Piracy Campaigns

The 40th International Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems (SRDS) |

Anti-piracy is fundamentally a procedure that relies on collecting data from the open anonymous population, so how to incentivize credible reporting is a question at the center of the problem. Industrial alliances and companies are running anti-piracy incentive campaigns, but their effectiveness is publicly questioned due to the lack of transparency. We believe that full transparency of a campaign is necessary to truly incentivize people. It means that every role, e.g., content owner, licensee of the content, or every person in the open population, can understand the mechanism and be assured about its execution without trusting any single role.

We see this as a distributed system problem. In this paper, we present Argus, a fully transparent incentive system for anti-piracy campaigns. The groundwork of Argus is to formulate the objectives for fully transparent incentive mechanisms, which securely and comprehensively consolidate the different interests of all roles. These objectives form the core of the Argus design, highlighted by our innovations about a Sybil-proof incentive function, a commit-and-reveal scheme, and an oblivious transfer scheme. In the implementation, we overcome a set of unavoidable obstacles to ensure security despite full transparency. Moreover, we effectively optimize several cryptographic operations so that the cost for a piracy reporting is reduced to an equivalent cost of sending about 14 ETH-transfer transactions to run on the public Ethereum network, which would otherwise correspond to thousands of transactions. With the security and practicality of Argus, we hope real-world anti-piracy campaigns will be truly effective by shifting to a fully transparent incentive mechanism.