Piracy Is Your Toughest Competitor
Assessing the impact of streaming piracy has always been a difficult and controversial exercise. Interestingly, in a panel about “IP Protection” during the 2019 OTT Sports Pro Summit in Madrid, an anti-piracy representative of a large PayTV operator shared an internal evaluation of the scale of streaming piracy for their service. They estimate that 25% of their viewers watch their programs in an illegal manner, including 10% who pay pirate services to access their content. Beyond the direct loss of revenues, the unique ability of pirate services to aggregate premium movies and popular sports content from all over the globe demonstrates why streaming piracy is now considered by many service providers as their toughest competition!
Forensic watermarking modifies multimedia content in a way that cannot be perceived by the consumer. Such watermarks encode information that can be recovered from copies of that content, even after alterations such as transcoding, cropping, etc. Nowadays, watermarking is exploited as a tracing mechanism in case of piracy. If someone makes available copyrighted content in a non-authorized way, she can be identified thanks to the unique watermark that is present in the copy which has been distributed to her. As such, watermarking acts both as a piracy deterrence mechanism – the user knows that she can be traced back if she shares copyrighted content – and provides means to content owners and service providers to undertake technical, commercial or legal actions against malicious users.
Leveraging on more than a decade of R&D, ContentArmor watermarking patent-protected technology is unique in that it embeds watermarks directly in the encoded video bitstream. It does not require any additional encoding/transcoding and therefore can be easily integrated at various places of the content delivery workflow to optimize deployment cost. Its invisibility has been approved by Hollywood studios golden eyes and its robustness to pirate transformations succesfully tested in content security labs, as well as in real life operations of customers.
Deploying Watermarking at the Edge of Your CDN
Traditional deployment of watermarking technologies for OTT relies on the creation of variants for the video to be distributed. This methodology, routinely coined as A/B watermarking, presents the drawback of increasing storage within the delivery network since it duplicates by design all the chunks of the original video asset, namely the A and B version of each chunk.
Thanks to its unique ability to insert a session-based watermark directly in the video bitstream, ContentArmor has been able to tailor on-the-fly edge watermarking capabilities with no additional requirement with respect to encoding, storage or bandwidth capacities from the origin server down to the edge of the delivery network.
ContentArmor and the Streaming Video Alliance
ContentArmor has been the lucky recipient of the Membership Grant Program since 2018. As part of the Privacy and Protection group, we have contributed to the redaction of the “Forensic Watermarking Implementation Considerations for Streaming Media”. The Alliance has proven to be a unique opportunity to present our innovative solutions to industry partners, service providers and to collectively promote watermarking as a tool to combat streaming piracy.
About this Post
Each year, the Streaming Video Alliance opens its doors to innovative startups and small companies as part of its Membership Grant Program. For 2019, the Alliance welcomed a number of very interesting companies exploring and productizing technologies for the streaming video space. ContentArmor is one of those companies which received it’s grant in 2018. They have remained a member of the grant program due to strong participation and engagement while also meeting the financial requirements of the program. This blog is part of a series showcasing each of our Grant Program recipients, the technical problems they hope to solve, and the value they bring to the streaming video ecosystem.