• Monday , 8 August 2022

Is it possible to protect premium video content from piracy without DRM and forensic watermarking tech?

Forensic watermarking has application areas beyond just identifying source  of piracy of OTT content | Geek Culture Podcast

Yes, it is. But, is it desirable? Let’s explore below.

Without using content protection strategies, it is pointless to sell content online, because pirated copies can travel faster than the original. Pirates have their networks all over the world and cater to more markets than an individual OTT player can. At the same time, protecting content using one form of encryption or another is a time-tested way to discourage illegal use of media.

Before production houses started streaming DRM protected content, they used to encrypt premium video files with industry-standard algorithms. Two of the popular methods in this category are MPEG-CENC ClearKey and HLS AES protection. The industry consortium W3C has specified protocols to include protection in web content. They are published as Media Source Extensions (MSE) and Encrypted Media Extension (EME). MPEG-CENC ClearKey forms part of the MSE and EME. It lets web browsers play encrypted content after verifying encryption keys.

These two technologies use AES-128 algorithm that scrambles the video content using counter and cipher block chaining modes for DASH and HLS formats respectively. Once encrypted, the video cannot be played without using a decryption key even if a pirate or illegal user has the whole file.

One advantage of using this encryption method is that there is no extra cost to managing the encrypted files. Moreover, for the HLS format, a programmer can implement encryption on a sample of the file. The video can be played in such a case, but the user experience is so bad that they prefer not to watch it. Using segment-based encryption also brings down the overall cost.

However, the disadvantage is that the decryption is not communicated to the user in a secure way. Just as a pirate can lay their hands on the video file, they can also access the decryption key and access the premium video. To avoid this type of threat, content owners use video watermarking technology and a DRM-based security system.

Using this dual method, content owners can easily track their legitimate users and ensure that no key is passed on in the network without adequate protection. Forensic watermarks help content owners track pirates.