Vendors Highlight Industrial Scale Of Video Piracy At Virtual IBC 2020

Synamedia has stood out as the vendor making the biggest splash over content protection and video piracy around IBC 2020, even though the event was confined to virtual channels.

Its main message that video cybercrime has become a global fully industrialized business is not new but was paraded with greater urgency than before and backed up by a wider range of tools or responses to combat the threat.

NAGRA, the revenue security arm of the Swiss Kudelski Group, also majored on the fast growing scale and sophistication of piracy to highlight its own toolset of combative measures. Like Synamedia, NAGRA emphasized the importance of being able to disrupt piracy services and so disarm them as effective competitors to legitimate pay TV offerings.

The other theme to stand out on the content protection front for IBC 2020 has been the inclusion of revenue security in pre-integrated packages incorporating components from multiple vendors. On this front Verimatrix and Irdeto made waves, stressing the benefits of saving service or content providers from costly and complex integrations themselves.

One notable aspect of Synamedia’s presence was its choice of FIFA, the world governing body of association football, as the customer to show off the benefits of a holistic approach to anti-piracy. Cynics might suggest that FIFA itself could tell us a lot about the sort of reputational damage that major security breaches can bring, having been mired in a seemingly endless series of corruption charges dating back almost two decades.

Still FIFA’s reputation has perhaps healed slightly over the last few years and certainly its Broadcaster Servicing Manager Eva Norroy had a few interesting points to make about the importance of collaboration among key players in the content ecosystem, including the social media giants, content owners, distributors, broadband or internet service providers and also crucially organizations profiting from piracy directly or indirectly, which can include governments.

Synamedia and FIFA pointed out that consumption of pirated sports content in particular had reached industrial levels, with more than half of sports fans regularly consuming it and almost a third of those using illegal sites having paid for them. Such assertions can be misleading, because they embrace content of greatly differing value, including poor quality clips of events such as goals scored and whole HD live streams. Naturally, the latter are more valuable to FIFA and broadcasters than compilations of goals posted on Twitter or Facebook.

Security vendor Irdeto is headquartered in Amsterdam.

Security vendor Irdeto is headquartered in Amsterdam.

Yet as Norroy seemed to indicate, these clips cumulatively deprive stakeholders of significant income from advertising when scaled up across social networks with their user bases running into hundreds of millions. There is also a sense that adopting a zero tolerance approach to video piracy will be effective in constraining the big players, as can happen in other areas of crime. So Norroy was keen to highlight FIFA’s close collaboration with social media giants identifying and removing infringing content quickly, restricting viewing of pirated clips to relatively small numbers.

Synamedia itself was trumpeting its intelligence-led approach that underpins such disruption, enabling it to be invoked sufficiently quickly and effectively. Its main technology announcement was the release of EverGuard, an operations center incorporating its Streaming Piracy Disruption (SPD) managed service. The aim there is to probe and analyze pirates’ business models in order to identify and recommend the most potent combination of disruptive measures, with feedback to assess effectiveness. It is possible to detect a role for machine learning here to tune these measures to individual threats and operations.

Meanwhile, NAGRA was also talking about proactively combating the growing scale and sophistication of ever-evolving piracy threats, which included so-called IPTV piracy using Kodi boxes. On that front NAGRA could point to some growing success combating Kodi related piracy. For example, a man in West Yorkshire, UK, has just been jailed for two years for selling around 2500 Kodi set top boxes incorporating illegal bypasses to access premium sports, movies and TV shows.

NAGRA’s portfolio on show at virtual IBC 2020 combines technology, investigations and such legal actions to address illegitimate streaming of premium content, again like Synamedia talking of an intelligence-based approach. Here the company identified three prongs of pro-active defense: identifying and shutting down content leaks; monitoring streaming servers while working with ISPs to take down infringing services; and disrupting pirate services, chiefly by blocking access to specific pirate servers.

Meanwhile, Verimatrix has been keen to promote the value of a pre-integrated approach to security, in this case through collaboration with Scandinavia IPTV and OTT middleware provider, Nordija, along with set top-box designer and manufacturer, EKT. Between them these three have just unveiled a cloud package designed to assist TV operators or broadband providers negotiate the complexity around IPTV, OTT or hybrid broadcast/internet video service delivery. The package called Stratos runs completely in the cloud, pre-integrated with Nordija’s video platform featuring an HTML user interface, EKT’s device management, and Verimatrix’s content security.

Irdeto, another venerable name in pay TV revenue protection, had a rather different type of pre-integration package, through collaboration with the even longer established IT giant IBM. The two have just announced integration of Irdeto’s TraceMark for Distribution, a forensic watermarking package for content owners, with IBM’s Aspera on Cloud, widely used by studios for transferring large video files. This gives the film industry a package that combines two previously separate workflows, transferring files and watermarking them for content protection purposes. 

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