Four Ways To Protect Your Premium Video Content from Piracy (Part 1)

Video piracy has been a major challenge in the media and entertainment industry, impacting content owners as well as OTT (Over-The-Top) service providers. According to Parks Associates’ forecast, US streaming services could suffer a $113 billion loss to piracy by the end of 2027. Piracy rates are also expected to rise from 22% in 2022 to 24.5% in 2027 for US streaming services, with no signs of letting up.

Video piracy is not only undermining revenue streams from legitimate channels, it is also violating intellectual property rights and eroding legal frameworks that safeguard creative works. In two parts of this blog series, we will cover the four key approaches to protecting your premium video content and minimising piracy.

In the media industry, video piracy includes any illegal downloading, streaming or sharing of copyrighted video from websites, applications, torrent networks, or peer-to-peer sharing platforms, without proper licensing or permissions.

At DIAGNAL, we aim to prevent and combat video piracy for media service providers through the following approaches:

  1. Tokenisation

  2. DRM

  3. Digital Watermarking

  4. Content Fingerprinting

In this blog, we will first delve into the intricacies of Tokenisation and DRM Systems. The next post in this series will cover Digital Watermarking and Content Fingerprinting.

Tokenisation

Tokenisation in the context of OTT video platforms typically refers to the process of generating and managing tokens for secure authentication, authorisation, and access control. Here’s how tokenisation generally works in OTT video platforms:

  1. User Authentication:

    • When a user attempts to access the OTT platform or a specific piece of content, they need to authenticate themselves. This involves providing a valid username and password or using other authentication methods like social logins or device-based authentication.

  2. Token Generation:

    • Upon successful authentication, the OTT platform generates a token for the user. This token is encoded data that contains information about the user and their permissions.

    • Tokens are typically generated using cryptographic algorithms and may include information such as user ID, access permissions, expiration time, and other relevant details.

  3. Token Content:

    • The token acts as a digital credential that the user presents to access resources on the OTT platform. It encapsulates the user’s identity and the specific rights granted to them.

  4. Secure Transmission:

    • The token is transmitted securely between the user’s device and the OTT platform’s servers. This is often done over HTTPS (HTTP Secure) to ensure encryption and protection against unauthorised interception.

  5. Authorisation Check:

    • Upon receiving the token, the OTT platform’s servers perform an authorisation check. They verify the token’s authenticity, check its expiration time, and validate the user’s permissions based on the information in the token.

  6. Access Control:

    • If the token is valid and the user has the necessary permissions, they are granted access to the requested content or functionality. Access control mechanisms ensure that users only have access to the resources they are authorised to use.

  7. Token Expiration and Renewal:

    • Tokens typically have a limited lifespan to enhance security. After a certain period, the token expires, and the user needs to re-authenticate to obtain a new token.

    • Some systems implement token renewal mechanisms, allowing users to extend their session without going through the full authentication process.

  8. Revocation:

    • In case a user’s privileges need to be revoked or in the event of suspicious activity, the OTT platform can invalidate or revoke a token. This prevents unauthorised access even if the token has not expired.

Tokenisation in OTT platforms enhances security by reducing the reliance on sensitive information like usernames and passwords during regular interactions. It provides a more dynamic and secure means of managing user sessions and access to resources on the platform.

DRM

Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems are indispensable in safeguarding premium video within OTT streaming services, playing a pivotal role in content protection. DRM has been engineered by tech giants including Google, Apple and Microsoft to thwart unauthorised access, distribution, and copying of premium digital content on their devices and browser platforms.

The image below represents the encryption and decryption of a license key using DRM solutions:

  1. Encryption:

    • Content Encryption: OTT platforms encrypt their video content to safeguard it during transmission. Common encryption protocols include Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and PlayReady Encryption.

    • Key Management: Content is encrypted using a specific encryption key. The encryption key is managed securely by the DRM system, ensuring that only authorised users can access the content.

  2. License Server:

    • When a user wants to access a piece of content, a license request is sent to the OTT platform’s license server.

    • The license server authenticates the user and checks if they have the right to access the requested content.

  3. License Generation:

    • If the user is authorised, the license server generates a content license. This license contains the decryption key required to unlock and play the encrypted content.

    • The license is associated with specific usage rules, such as the duration of access, the number of devices allowed, and other restrictions set by content owners.

  4. Content Decryption Module:

    • The user’s device receives the license and uses it to request the decryption key from the license server.

    • Upon acquiring the decryption key, the device utilises it to decrypt the encrypted content, enabling the user to view the video.

  5. Secure Playback:

    • The DRM system ensures that the decrypted content is played securely and cannot be easily intercepted or copied during playback.

    • Secure playback mechanisms may include hardware-based protection (e.g., Trusted Execution Environments or hardware security modules) to prevent tampering or unauthorised access to the decrypted content.

  6. Renewal and Revocation:

    • DRM systems often include mechanisms for license renewal and revocation. Renewal allows users to extend their access to content, while revocation enables content owners to invalidate licenses for specific users or devices, particularly in cases of suspected piracy or unauthorised sharing.

  7. Multi-DRM Support:

    • Many OTT platforms employ a multi-DRM strategy, supporting multiple DRM technologies to ensure compatibility with various devices and platforms. Widely used DRM systems encompass Widevine, PlayReady, and FairPlay.

Axinom, our technology partner, offers Axinom DRM, a comprehensive multi-DRM solution that features a single, user-friendly unified API. This API seamlessly integrates with Microsoft PlayReady, Apple FairPlay, and Google Widevine DRMs, ensuring compatibility across all platforms, devices, and video players.

By using DRM, OTT platforms can create a safe and regulated space for distributing content. This helps safeguard the rights of content owners and ensures a fair and sustainable business model for the streaming service.

Conclusion

In summary, tokenisation and DRM are vital for protecting video content on OTT platforms. Tokenisation ensures secure user access through unique authentication tokens, while DRM encrypts content to prevent unauthorised distribution and piracy. Together, these systems form a robust defence against video piracy, ensuring better content security and preserving revenue streams for OTT service providers.

Look out for the next blog in this series, where we will cover how Digital Watermarking and Content Fingerprinting are also robust approaches to combating and preventing video piracy.

At DIAGNAL, our mission is to deliver awesome experiences for our customers and to continuously develop ourselves. We have a strong commitment to efficiency, trust and flexibility, and work with major media companies around the world, including Celestial Tiger Entertainment, Intigral, LoungesTV, Optus Sport, WRC Promoter and more. 

To find out more about how we can help, please reach out to us.

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