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Fighting Piracy With Contribution Watermarking

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Piracy is a billion-dollar problem. A study by the Global Innovation Policy Center for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that global online piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion and as much as $71 billion in lost domestic revenues each year. In 2022, the cost of online video piracy is expected to reach $52 billion. This problem is only going to worsen without an effective solution.

So what can companies do to fight video piracy?

Tackling video piracy is a challenge because it is always evolving: hackers are constantly using new techniques to illegally access and redistribute video content. So the source of your piracy yesterday might not be the source of your piracy today. This means that to fight piracy effectively, you need an accurate, scalable, and cost-effective solution to pinpoint the exact path of where the leaks came from.

That’s what inspired Viaccess-Orca (VO), a leading global provider of television and OTT platforms, content protection and advanced data solutions, and Ateme to join forces and create a state-of-the-art contribution watermarking solution.

A smarter, more scalable way to identify piracy sources

One problem we wanted to tackle was the limited data available as to the sources of leaks. Content providers were limited to only identifying the end point of leaked content. So imagine if a watermark could be inserted as the content was encoded – that would enable much more precise tracking of leaked content, for easier identification of culprits.

That was the goal of the collaboration between VO and Ateme: to develop a smarter method of tracking piracy. We wanted to focus on the full journey of content, not just endpoints. And indeed, that is what we have achieved. So now, with our solution, content owners and providers can protect their content and revenue like never before.

Here’s how it works: We’ve integrated VO’s software-based dynamic watermarking technology into Ateme IRDs and encoders. This allows content owners and providers to pinpoint the source of video piracy leaks across various distribution channels.

But what good is a solution if it is not easily available? Watermarking typically comes with complex pricing, and that’s an important issue we wanted to address. Our new contribution watermarking solution offers a unique pay-as-you-go business model that eliminates service, maintenance and licensing fees. You only pay for contributing watermarking technology when you use it.

Since the watermarking technology is software-based, it’s quick and easy to implement. Another benefit is that our new solution supports BISS-CA encryption, an open protocol that enables real-time entitlement management for content streams over any network. When used in conjunction with dynamic watermarking, BISS-CA simplifies content owners’ ability to trace the source of illegal streams and safeguard their content, which is perfect for live sports streaming applications.

Our collaboration with Ateme makes it possible to define a roadmap that will enhance our joint solution. Watermarking management will be added to the current integration, enabling it to adapt to the various field use-cases. Configuration will be controlled through BISS-CA from the source, to leverage the security offer when distributing the content.

Lastly, we plan to work with Ateme on an evolution to reduce the time to detect the forensic watermark.

Tracking watermarks in real time

At the heart of the solution is VO’s dynamic watermarking technology with dynamic algorithms capable of tracking and changing watermarks in real time. As content owners distribute live content to affiliates, the solution tracks its journey through various channels, including satellite and IP, and inserts an invisible mark on the video at each distribution point. Indeed, watermarks are totally imperceptible, so you don’t need to worry about impairing the end-user experience.

An important aspect of fighting against piracy is speed. You need to stop it before it’s too late. That’s why we also designed our watermarking technology to work incredibly fast. Service providers can identify the source of a leak in the video delivery chain within minutes.

And the best part? It’s proven to work. VO’s dynamic watermarking technology has undergone and passed a series of stringent robustness tests carried out by Cartesian, a testament to its proficiency in solving the inherent security challenges that exist in today’s digital TV and OTT environments.

But the technology alone cannot do everything. Monitoring is a key part of ending piracy. To that effect, VO’s Anti-Piracy Center closely monitors the content leaks, so they can be quickly identified.

Winning the fight, together

Viaccess-Orca and Ateme are helping content owners and providers win the war on piracy. With our new contribution watermarking solution, customers can keep their content safe from pirates on any screen and protect their revenues. Since piracy is constantly evolving, we don’t know what future threats will look like. But we can defeat them by adapting to the situation with dynamic watermarking technology. So that those affected by the $52 billion-dollar cost of piracy this year will be your competitors – not you.