Protecting OTT videos in browsers with forensic watermarks

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, streaming platforms have grown in popularity, drawing attention to the thriving piracy networks in each country. As the internet is so connected, even if an OTT platform decides to withhold the release in certain territories, piracy of OTT shows has become widespread and immediate.

DRM and video watermarking are two of the primary tools used by content owners to combat piracy. OTT platforms can authenticate playback sessions in accordance with a user’s subscription plan thanks to DRM technology. In this industry, credential sharing is a major issue. OTT platforms can limit the number of devices that a single subscriber can use by using DRM technology to prevent revenue leakage.

The DRM technology enables content owners to encrypt each video asset, which remains encrypted until it reaches the client player. A playback session cannot begin until the encryption has been deciphered. Major web browsers were persuaded to include a content decryption module (CDM) as a standard feature by the content industry. It makes it easier for people to access encrypted content without having to download any additional plugins.

EME, an industry standard for distributing DRM protected content in web browsers, is another important security feature of the browser. With EMEs, a web player can request a licence directly from the licencing server, which could be a Widevine, PlayReady, or FairPlay server depending on the type of device being used. The browser’s CDM is used for all decryption.

User requests via their browser are routed through EME where the playback client creates a unique key session for each user and device, as well as the video segments they are seeking. Video segments released to the client contain forensic watermarks containing a lot of this information. In the event of a leak, the user responsible can be traced thanks to the uniqueness of each watermark.

Viewers outside of Europe and the United States are extremely price-conscious, which is the biggest challenge for the OTT industry. If they find a better deal, they can easily switch services. Furthermore, they do not want to pay for the entire year at once. Instead, they opt for smaller monthly subscription fees. They turn to the piracy market because of their price sensitivity.

The piracy market filled a supply gap before OTT streaming platforms became a reality. CDs and DVDs from major Hollywood films that had not been released in developing countries were used by piracy networks. Despite the fact that a new OTT show can be released simultaneously all over the world, OTT companies prefer to tailor their content for specific markets. Networks of piracy take advantage of the mainstream OTT players’ business models to distribute their piracy-related content and profit handsomely from it.

Adding forensic watermarking to DRM-protected videos increases the overall level of security.

Studios all over the world prefer digital rights management (DRM) technology, which encrypts premium content and makes it available on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices and operating systems.

Keys generated by a transcoder or packager using a common encryption format can be used to create multi-DRM content. Based on DRM technology, the browser or operating system’s built-in security features are used for content playback.

Even though DRM is a first-level defence against premium content piracy, it falls short of controlling piracy at the review stage.

In some cases, content providers may have to restrict access to video assets in specific regions. Due to the fact that a video’s licencing rights are only valid in a specific area, or due to security concerns, the video may not be accessible outside that region. As a result of geofencing, videos are only viewable in a limited number of locations.

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