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Piracy is threatening the ‘new normal’ way of life

Shane McCarthy, chief operating officer at Irdeto, explains why content security is even more important than ever during the pandemic.

Piracy is a problem. Life’s “new normal” of staying at home combined with consumers’ insatiable desire for new content has given hackers unprecedented opportunities. Advancements in technology and increasing broadband access has enabled pirates to steal and share high-quality content over the internet. Recent data shows that there are more than 600 million visitors to the top 500 linking sites each month. Parks Associates estimates the revenue lost to video pirate operations could exceed $61 billion in 2020 and $67 billion worldwide by 2023. This is why content owners and sports rights holders are looking for ways to protect their content, adding increasingly stringent content protection clauses as part of contractual requirements and taking a stronger stance when it comes to security for premium content.

Watermarking helps 

Watermarking is a key tool to fighting piracy. However, despite considerable investments to produce and acquire content, not all content is protected and watermarked throughout all the steps of the value chain. Irdeto has teamed up with IBM Aspera, a leader in video file distribution in the film industry, to develop a solution that tackles piracy issues during post production. Although watermarking during post has previously been available on the market, this pre-integrated forensic watermarking and digital file transfer solution is unique. It provides content owners, post production houses, and content aggregators with a mezzanine-quality file-based transmission and affordable forensic watermarking solution that is easy to deploy. The watermark itself is invisible to the eye and is designed to survive pirate transformations so that with a click of a button, customers can watermark video files on the fly while content is being distributed to an end-user, eliminating the need of huge storage overheads for pre-creating files for all recipients. A “pay-for-use” model allows customers to pay for those video files they watermark, rather than having a “one-size fits all” annual fee, creating a more flexible, cost-effective, and accessible solution. 

Our industry must do more

But watermarking alone is not enough.  When combined with any of our TraceMark solutions (e.g. Distribution, Broadcast or OTT), Online Piracy Detection (OPD) can provide the next step in combating piracy. Top benefits include 24×7 monitoring for rapid breach detection, and the notification, and takedown of illegal content. The first step is for illegal activity and pirated content to be identified. This is crucial to revenue and copyright protection. The key for detection is to use an intelligence-based approach. This ensures that you focus on the sites with the highest volumes and the sites which are most popular for that particular content or country. 

With OPD, the Irdeto team of experts uses a combination of fingerprinting and watermarking technologies and sophisticated automation tools to monitor various modes of online media distribution and locate a provider’s copyrighted content. A wide array of sites is checked, including link aggregation, live streaming and torrent sites in addition to web video and cyberlockers. 

Act fast or pay later

Our data shows that illegal activity typically happens within the first 24 hours following a high-quality digital release. Just by notifying downloaders of illegal activity we can have a significant impact on behaviour. Fast and effective enforcement is guaranteed through the strong relationships Irdeto has established with hosting sites and ISPs globally to quickly remove infringing content from the public domain. 

Ending piracy takes more than single faceted solutions and adopting forensic watermarking solutions for content. You must have a rapid detection and response. Having the same provider who possesses these capabilities will accelerate your detection and response capabilities, ensure robust protection of valuable content and will raise the bar and implement anti-piracy action across your entire content value chain. Fighting pirates in the digital age is a tough challenge, but if you act wisely, quickly and responsibly, you can win the battle and your business will thrive!