Forensic Watermarking – The DRM tool transforming Video Content Protection

The colossal wave of digitalization has completely transformed the realm of entertainment. Even when the world came to a standstill amidst the pandemic, OTT video-on-demand platforms like Netflix gained a whopping 15.8 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020. Experts believe that 2021 will mark a historical turn for video-on-demand platforms with major movies slated to release this year. This is the year when VOD is expected to emerge as a triumphant king in its battle with the traditional movie-going experience.

The cost of content creation, reproduction, and distribution has been reduced dramatically since the inception of Video on Demand (VOD) platforms. On the flip side, the practice of unauthorized duplication of content has spread like wildfire. To put it into a better perspective, 76.6% of Game of Thrones – Season 8 was consumed from pirated outlets. James Cameron’s Avatar tops the list of the most pirated movies of all time with 21 million illegal downloads.

The Impact of Piracy 

Based on economic models, it is estimated that piracy sets the U.S. economy back by 11% to 24% which translates to losses amounting to $29.2 billion to $71.0 billion annually. In India, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that piracy trades churned close to $461 Billion in 2013 alone. Piracy not only impacts the economy but is also notorious for propelling unemployment in heavy numbers.

Digital Rights Management – The Solution

Digital Rights Management (DRM) uses sophisticated modern technology and tools to protect the rights of the copyright holder and prevent unauthorized modification or distribution.

DRM takes two different approaches for DRM video protection –

Approach 1: Permission management: DRM systems create a barrier to limit unauthorized access to content. And, only allows those authorized to use particular content.

It achieves this goal with – 

  • Software licenses and keys
  • User authentication
  • IP authentication protocols
  • Proxy servers
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • Regional restriction or geoblocking

Approach 2: Copy protection: This is a more proactive approach that prevents users from copying video content. Forensic watermarking has emerged as one of the most efficient ways, if not the most efficient way, to protect video content from illegitimate use and to prevent the distribution of copyrighted digital.

When done perfectly, forensic watermarking is impossible to remove from the proprietary video without damaging the video. The code is embedded so well that it cannot be faked, thus, ensuring that your video content stays protected from getting copied.

How does Forensic Watermarking works? 

A forensic watermark is a sequence of characters or codes which is embedded directly into the master copy of the video content. The video watermarking is placed seamlessly at random locations throughout the video content which makes it rather difficult to detect by human eyes. The watermark can only be detected by a watermark detector software.

Forensic watermarking makes it significantly easier for copyright holders to not only detect malicious activities but also identify the individuals who engage in such acts of copyright infringement.

Benefits of Forensic Watermarking as a DRM tool 

  1. It protects against a wide range of attacks which includes collision and playlist shuffling.
  2. It does not have to be integrated multiple times. Embed it in the master copy of the video content and it protects the content regardless of the device it is played on.
  3. It is one of the most cost-effective solutions to copyright infringement.
  4. It is imperceptible. Neither can it be seen or heard during the course of the video
  5. It not only detects attempts at piracy but also helps identify the offender.

The biggest advantage of forensic watermarking for Indian content creators and VOD platforms lies in the fact that it is easily accessible in the country now.

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