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In this correspondence, we describe a robust and effective content descriptor based on block-edge patterns extracted in discrete cosine transform domain, which is suitable for applications in JPEG or MPEG compressed images and videos. This content descriptor is constructed by a run-length edge-block histogram with three patterns including horizontal edge, vertical edge and no edge. In comparison with existing descriptors, the proposed features: 1) low-cost computing suitable for real-time implementation and high-speed processing of compressed videos; 2) robust to orientation changes such as rotation, noise, reverse, etc.; 3) operates in compressed domain. Extensive experiments support that the proposed content descriptor is effective in describing visual content, and achieves superior performances in terms of retrieval precision and recall rates.