How Watermarking MAM Content Helps Fight Against Piracy Globally
By PFT Blog team
Piracy is a huge problem today, with growing global losses that are already more than half the magnitude of the legitimate revenues for streaming services. According to a study from Digital TV Research last year, revenues from legitimate streaming services were 37 billion in 2016 – while losses to piracy totaled $26.7 billion! That study concluded that Netflix, Amazon, and the other streaming services will lose more than $50 billion to piracy between 2016 and 2022. It is difficult to imagine any business market where consistent losses at this high level could be tolerated.
Content developers and owners need effective solutions to protect their content from piracy, and they know that no single action will be sufficient to solve the issue. Instead, a range of actions will need to be applied to cover places in the content creation workflow where piracy is possible or likely. The best current approach seems to be a combination of actions to deter would-be pirates from stealing the content in the first place, along with actions to support detection, identification, and prosecution of pirates if and when theft occurs.
Here are some examples of how one powerful security technique – watermarking – can be implemented in distinct ways to address both the prevention and the prosecution phases in the battle against content piracy.
Advanced MAM solutions like Media ERP include watermarking, along with other security features to help Media & Entertainment (M&E) enterprises keep their content secure.
Content is vulnerable during the pre-release period, and potential pirates are particularly eager to get their hands on new content connected with popular media franchises and episodic programs. During this phase, content is made available to post houses, as well as VFX, sound, editorial and localization vendors, to perform their respective functions prior to public release. In addition to controlling access, timing, and the quality of proxy copies needed to complete the tasks, instream watermarking is applied to any content that leaves the MAM system.
Instream watermarking includes both visible and forensic marks. The visible markings make it obvious to potential pirates that any stolen materials will be immediately recognized, thereby discouraging them. Visible watermarks also make it difficult to recapture video that is delivered by streaming (for example, by pointing a camera at a playback screen to re-record a new version). Working around these markings is difficult enough to discourage most casual and opportunistic thieves.
Forensic watermarking is targeted at more determined thieves, and at the later stages of detection, identification and prosecution. While determined thieves may invest more effort and resources at removing the visible watermarks, the invisible forensic marks remain in place. If unauthorized content is discovered, it can be analyzed for these invisible watermarks and the source of the theft can be swiftly identified and prosecuted.
Problems with piracy do not end with the release of content to the public. On the contrary, despite losing the extra value of being a “sneak peek”, released content offers many more opportunities for theft than the pre-release controlled environment.
At this stage, it is still possible to selectively use visible watermarking if desired and acceptable. Many broadcast networks and airline entertainment operations, for example, use some visible watermarking as a notice to potential thieves (as well as a subtle promotion of their own brand).
And, forensic watermarking can also be used because it poses no interference with the user experience. As in the pre-release phase, forensic watermarking can be used to enforce licensing agreements, detect violations, and if necessary support prosecutions.
Leveraging Technology to Battle Piracy
Today’s complex content creation workflows provide great opportunities to make use of innovative talent across different geographical locations. To gather these contributions, you shouldn’t have to give up control of your content, nor should you need to open your content to theft. Solutions like Media ERP which come with a robust array of in-built security features can help you battle piracy and capture the business value you are entitled to.
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