Why Hollywood studios must engage external security experts to prevent piracy

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Widespread digital video piracy is growing by the day and is hurting the bottom line of Hollywood studios. One would imagine that piracy is only about revenue loss.

While revenue loss is the primary concern of major studios, there are other factors to consider as well, for example, excess bandwidth consumption, job losses, though it is connected to the revenue loss and compromise of the brand value of studios as well OTT platforms.

Hollywood production houses largely rely on digital rights management (DRM) tools to control piracy and implement user authentication.

OTT platforms stream DRM protected content to user devices irrespective of the operating system or device they have. It could be an iPhone or an Android device, a multi-DRM vendor can protect streaming videos against piracy in all of them.

Many production houses have in-house teams to implement security approaches, which invariably involves using a multi-DRM tool along with a forensic watermarking tool.

These are industry standards used by most studios and OTT players. However, in-house security can also be a developed form of technology, where studios could write their own code to monitor how the content is being consumed legally as well as extra-legally.

Many production houses also create proprietary video watermarking tools and create a database of video watermarks embedded in video frames of each one of their video assets.

Online consumption of video content has spiralled manifold in recent years. The rise of OTT platforms, streaming of live sporting and other events, e-learning platforms, etc. all have contributed to a spurt of activity in this space.

This has thrown up a challenge of content protection, as piracy networks have mushroomed all over the internet to offer premium content for free to users.

A multi-DRM vendor maintains a database of unique watermarks embedded in video frames, which become user-specific when they are embedded at the time the playback request is made by a user.

This data travels with the pirated copy throughout the piracy ecosystem. The multi-DRM vendor also employs customized web crawlers, whose job is to crawl suspected websites that host illegal content.

Web crawlers can specifically look for content that is unique to their client and whose meta-information matches with what is embedded at the time of encoding.

However, experts believe that while it is easy to write security programs, operating them and scouting for pirated video clips all over the internet is a job best done by a dedicated group of developers and security teams.

Their adversaries are global pirate networks which are technically more sophisticated than an in-house team a production studio can have.

Therefore, production studios must engage a technical partner that can bring their security approach to the level of other global players and can constantly watch out for emerging threats. A multi-DRM vendor which combines DRM technologies with forensic watermarking tools, thus, is the best bet for these production houses.

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