Business

How forensic watermarks help video content owners detect and take down illegal content distribution

The piracy of internet content has become one of the most serious dangers for content creators, providers, broadcasters, and operators thanks to the exponential development in demand for digital video content and the emergence of OTT platforms. This problem has become even more acute given the explosion in content consumption due to Covid-19.

Digital rights management (DRM) and conditional access system (CAS) technologies perform well in containing these threats but only up to a point. They become ineffective when subjected to a sophisticated piracy attach, which takes place at the user end when DRM protected content has been decrypted for viewing. In this situation, forensic watermarking of video asset is a viable option. While video watermarking technologies cannot prevent piracy directly, they do allow content providers to detect it and take action against individuals who are implicated.

Within media blocks, the forensic watermarking vendor embeds imperceptible data (a series of characters or a code), which contains crucial information about the video asset and the user who consumes it. This data is difficult to change or delete without causing massive damage to the host media. This means that the video watermarking data is carried together with the copied media throughout its distribution network and copying procedures. Despite the pirate‚Äôs best effort to disfigure this data, the piracy distribution chain frequently includes information about the content’s original distributor, owner or subscriber.

In the eventuality that a piece of video content is stolen and redistributed piracy networks, the ownership and user information can be extracted from the watermarked data, and the source of piracy can be obtained and appropriate legal action taken. If the original material is necessary, the extraction strategy is dubbed “non-blind”, “informed” if some of the information is required, and “blind” if the original content is not required at all. While security developers find blind extractions the simplest to implement, non-blind techniques improve the usefulness of the mark by preventing pirates from accessing the original, unmarked content.

Multiple actions can be taken against the usage and subsequent distribution of illegal video content, as well as to prevent further leakages, once the source of the leak is detected using the operator or subscriber mark of video watermarking. The content owner can then use the leaked content to acquire information about its location, frequency, and timing in order to make an informed decision about preventing leaks and closely monitoring pirate attempts in specific areas.

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