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Combining DRM and forensic watermarking tech to protect premium video content

In the past few years, the world has witnessed an exponential rise in online video consumption. According to the global data collection portal Statista, the number of digital video viewers in 2019 hovered around 2.6 billion and is set to hit the 3.1 billion mark in 2023. This explosion in the number of viewers has created a corresponding rise in the number of streaming/OTT platforms offering video content. The days of Netflix dominance are over. Every geography has its own major challengers.

The plethora of platforms also make it easy for pirates. In fact, the pirate ecosystem is thriving. Users prefer to access pirate content rather than go to the legitimate OTT platform, because it gives them the same content at a much cheaper rate. This trend highlights the importance of video protection. In the absence of such a security apparatus, the chances are that proprietary videos will be downloaded using advanced software and made available on pirate websites. Needless to say that this becomes a major source of revenue leakage.

The online industry has reposed faith in the digital rights management (DRM) technology to keep pirates away. All content streamed through major OTT platforms these days is DRM protected content. Through DRM technology, content owners or copyright holders can easily track users and their devices where the content is being played. DRM technology is offered by major tech giants, like Google in the form of Widevine, Apple through FairPlay, and Microsoft through PlayReady. Content owners use multi-DRM vendors to integrate all major DRM providers, so that no user or device is left out of the security system.

The other tool in the arsenal of security professionals is video watermarking technology. Both multi-DRM and forensic watermarking approaches are used on the same video asset and mostly integrated through the same vendor.

While content owners use a multi-DRM approach to ensure that videos are always streamed in an encrypted form and are decrypted in a secure environment before playback, forensic watermarks ensure that if the content leaks despite all precautions, it can be tracked through the unique metadata embedded in each video frame. This approach allows content owners to reach organisations involved in piracy.