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This paper presents a moving object detection algorithm for H.264/AVC video streams that is applied in the compressed domain. The method is able to extract and analyze several syntax elements from any H.264/AVC-compliant bit stream. The number of analyzed syntax elements depends on the mode in which the method operates. The algorithm is able to perform either a spatiotemporal analysis in a single step or a two-step analysis that starts with a spatial analysis of each frame, followed by a temporal analysis of several subsequent frames. Thereby, in each mode either only (sub-)macroblock types and partition modes or, additionally, quantization parameters are analyzed. The evaluation of these syntax elements enables the algorithm to determine a “weight” for each 4×4 block of pixels that indicates the level of motion within this block. A final segmentation after creating these weights segments each frame to foreground and background and hence indicates the positions and sizes of all moving objects. Our experiments show that the algorithm is able to efficiently detect moving objects in the compressed domain and that it is configurable to process a large number of parallel bit streams in real time.