Guest post from Mark Mulready, Senior Director, Cyber Services & Investigations, Irdeto
It’s one thing to deliver rights over a platform but another thing to secure it. Piracy is a constant concern in the marketplace so how is technology being used to protect sports content delivery?
One of the biggest threats to content owners, broadcasters and operators today is content redistribution over the Internet, particularly related to premium content such as live sports or newly released movies. Pirates who illegally stream the operator’s live sports content from virtually the moment it is aired have a significant, immediate impact on the operator’s revenue and reputation.
Identifying and stopping pirate streams is critical and urgent as the value of live sports content goes down significantly with every passing minute. Addressing this form of piracy requires specialized knowledge and tools which must evolve as fast as Internet piracy.
Irdeto Piracy Control is a managed service that helps operators anticipate needs and ensure dynamic protection against evolving threats. It identifies and analyses piracy threats, enforces compliance by removing infringing content from the public domain, and also supports legal prosecutions. With its global team of multi-discipline specialists and its proven methodology, Irdeto has a successful track record in rapidly identifying, disrupting piracy and leveraging its established networks to track down pirates and their supply chains.
Irdeto has helped top sports broadcasters and operators in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Australia to protect some of the most valued content and live events, including the Premier League and 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Obviously the key to fighting piracy is knowing it exists. How do detection technologies help solve the problem?
With Online Piracy Detection, the Irdeto team of experts uses proprietary automation tools to monitor online media distribution and locate a provider’s copyrighted content. Understanding the threat models mean that the Irdeto team have a deep affinity with the evolution of piracy and the technology which is used.
The approach used varies depending on the content. For instance, a live sports event is treated differently to a newly released movie; with the value of the live sports diminishing as the game progresses, meaning that upfront planning is crucial for a swift response. Irdeto has pioneered a service to quickly detect retransmissions and enforce live broadcast rights for some of the world’s largest sports franchises and pay-per-view event producers in order to protect the short and highly valuable monetization window of live events. Other techniques which are employed involve sophisticated and proprietary stealth web crawler technology to identify additional illegal sites.
There are plenty of diverse distribution platforms out there. How does the choice of a platform, impact the content protection decision?
The choice of platform does make a difference to the security technology that is likely to be most appropriate, and there are layers of both content protection and piracy protection required. In the case of broadcast content on an STB, the protection is Conditional Access. Typically this has been smart card. However, software CA can provide a number of benefits, notably in reducing logistical costs and flexibility to adapt with the operator’s business.
In contrast, when it comes to meeting consumer demand for watching content on any device, being able to manage multiple DRMs is essential to achieve sufficient device reach. Instead of an inflexible proprietary solution, it is important to develop a platform which is multi-DRM ready and enables easy operation of the OTT service (such as entitlement and subscriber management) across multiple OS and hardware platforms, regardless of the underlying DRM technologies. With Irdeto Rights & Rules Manager, OTT service providers can even swap out DRMs without it impacting service operation or the end-user experience. By abstracting the rules and policy management from the DRMs, this makes it simple for operators to implement different content packages and entitlements by subscriber profile – irrespective of their target device.
It is not just the device in question that impacts the approach however, as we see different forms of piracy on the same devices. If you take an STB as an example, Control Word Sharing can be countered through the implementation of secure silicon, however we have now seen the rise of content redistribution.
In the case of content redistribution online, Irdeto offers watermarking and takedown services. Watermarking for content owners will identify the weak link in their distribution channels and session-based watermarking for Broadcast and OTT operators will trace pirated content back to specific individuals who illegally redistribute the content. Once the pirated session is identified, working with the provider, Irdeto is then able to immediately shut down the service and follow up actions can be taken against the pirate.
Pirate activity extends beyond just content theft however – criminals are taking advantage of the speed, convenience, accessibility and most importantly the anonymity of the Internet to abuse legal brands through a combination of tactics such as including their name, logo and other information in advertisements, apps or on illegal sites.
Using a combination of automated tools and expert interaction, the data from monitoring the Internet, Dark Net, app stores, ecommerce sites and social media is collated and analysed, Irdeto’s team of multi-disciplined experts help content owners, broadcasters and operators protect their investment, rights and brand by providing prioritized insight into threats to their business including content, technology, and people as well as provide recommended mitigation actions.
The world is a big place…is piracy more prevalent in certain areas of the world? If a content creator is delivering content globally do they need to take a different approach to fighting piracy in different regions?”
Piracy is not just a problem relating to criminal activity; piracy is often an indication of consumers who are frustrated by not being able to get the content they want in their region, for which they are willing to pay. There are of course piracy hotspots around the globe, but these change according to the type of content, specific titles and even genre of programs being viewed – recent Irdeto research into popular genres of illegally downloaded content showed that piracy activity across all genres occurs most often in Brazil, France, Spain, the United States, Russian Federation, Australia, Italy, Canada, UK and the Netherlands, accounting for 56 percent of total downloads worldwide
Valuable insight into consumer demand can be gained from monitoring file sharing activity on peer-to-peer networks to help content owners, broadcasters and operators make content investment decisions that will maximize their ROI. Many successful providers have realized that fighting online piracy requires more than just technology alone. Services are essential to combat new and emerging piracy threats, particularly for content redistribution. From online piracy detection, watermarking, rights enforcement and piracy investigation, Irdeto provides an end-to-end tailored approach to meet your specific needs.
Irdeo will be demonstrating their revolutionary content protection products at the OTTtv World Summit (9th – 12th November 2015 Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London)