Technology and Gaming Guides

What role does the subscriber mark play in content protection for live and on-demand services?

For all content-creation platforms, content redistribution has become a major problem. Pirates can obtain content from a VoD service, an internet live streaming platform, or a set-top box and redistribute it on the internet to a large number of consumers around the world. Operators with exclusive content rights, such as for live sports events, face a greater threat in terms of revenue loss. An effective anti-piracy strategy that goes beyond DRM protected content is the use of subscriber level watermarking solutions combined with large scale content monitoring techniques.

Subscriber watermarking uses a unique watermarking information for each playback session to track the end-user of the content (device ID, user ID. device type, etc.). In general, there are three broad categories of subscriber mark products:

  • Changes are made to a video’s bitstream while still preserving the video’s overall quality (server and client solutions): First, the server identifies the potentially manipulatable blocks, and this data is sent with the content in a metadata file. The changes are then implemented on either the CDN edge processing side or the client-side, resulting in a unique watermark. While it’s dependable, the computational burden of this approach means it can’t handle real-time content.
  • Iteration A/B (Server-side solution): Video Watermarking This is a two-step process aimed primarily at the OTT and VoD market segments. The watermark is the only difference between two versions of the content (designated as A and B). The asset is then broken down into smaller chunks, and each playout has a distinct pattern of As and Bs. Watermarked content files are created by interleaving chunks of content (either client-side or through CDN edge processing).
  • Client-side watermarking: In this case, a graphical overlay is inserted into the video stream on the client device. According to the content owner’s wishes this can be visible or not. As a device firmware or client SDK, the watermark is embedded in the set-top box or the OTT application. This type of watermarking is best suited for live streaming because it has a lower detection time and lower playback delays.
  • The scene is represented just by its 2D projection, which are photos acquired by cameras. It is possible to watermark image sequences that record a 3D scene and extract the watermark from any rendered image generated for any arbitrary view angle, as opposed to the first two methods, which only  protect the watermark information for the two key components of 3D scene representation (geometry and texture). If you’re using dynamic watermarking, you may embed information on the video asset while it’s being played back at the user’s end, such as the user’s email, date  and time of watching, their IP address, or even their business logo. Because of their dynamic nature, they provide additional protection for confidential content that  is not intended to be shared or altered. DAI (dynamic ad insertion) is also activated via dynamic watermarking in order to optimise addressable ad income.
  • DRM  video protection techniques such as watermarks are not sufficient on their own, but when used in conjunction with other measures, they can help to safeguard the  intellectual property of the content owner and aid to trace the source of any alleged infringement. They also serve as a helpful reminder to users about their own  and others’ rights to the content they’re using.

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