How video pirates succeed in selling premium video content online and the role of forensic watermarking in stopping it

Pirates employ various business models like video-on-demand and pay-per-view to earn millions through sourcing and distributing illicit copies of premium video content and making them seem legitimate. They often use high bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) strippers to circumvent the DRM protected content‘s robust protection mechanism. The device-HDCP versions mismatch restricts the outreach of premium content, making the distributors do away with strict enforcement of the latest HDCP versions. Pirates exploit this loophole to relay original, high-quality content to destination servers for live streaming.

Pirates also use the open-source Kodi stack to facilitate access to illegal content streaming. Kodi enables delivering professional-grade video content in multiple languages, customized with subtitles. The third-party add-ons allow users to stream pirated content hosted in some P2P or piracy cyberlockers. Consumers access these sites through search engines and subscribe to single-entry streaming playlists like M3U. The Kodi-enabled device helps them access pirated content through M3U players or dedicated apps.

Professional pirates also use social media to broadcast the pirated sports events and movies through YouTube Live and Facebook Live and benefit from the ad revenues. These live events are breeding grounds for malware, with a majority of ads trying to bypass ad blockers and content linked with malicious activity.

How forensic watermarking stops video piracy

DRM protected content blended with forensic watermarking acts as a strong deterrent to deal strictly with video piracy. Content creators and distributors embed their content with imperceptible unique code sequences at random places in video frames. The process is easy, especially when done through a video watermarking SaaS vendor, and takes little computational time to embed and mix watermark into media objects.

Pirates cannot easily tamper with the watermark without destroying the host video itself, rendering it useless for piracy and illegal distribution. Since the watermark embeds directly into the consumer sessions, distributors can detect the source in the event of a leak and take legal actions. In addition, the technology makes it literally impossible for an attacker to modify the payload or create a fake watermark.

Video watermarking, thus, complements DRM protected content, enhances the security of premium videos, and renders the video piracy market infructuous.

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