Tech

How can sports telecasts and live-events be protected using real-time dynamic watermarking

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Piracy of live and audio-visual content is a huge loss for content right owners and distributors. To prevent illegal streaming of live content, one must find and stop the unauthorized streamers within a very short time window, typically within 15 minutes. In addition, the watermarking solution must be able to process the video data in real time during playback which has become increasingly challenging with the adoption of 4K UHD and HDR content.

The protection of digital output outside the security perimeter provided by traditional techniques such as using DRM protected content and CAS might not be efficient to fight against piracy. Hence, the content needs to be tracked outside the client’s video terminal using an identifier. This is where transactional watermarking comes into play. The ID of the source is encoded inside the video pixels and any streamed content can be traced back to the source of infringement or indelicate subscribers. To be effective at protecting live-streamed content, video watermarking solutions must allow license holders to disrupt viewing within a few minutes of streaming by detecting and decoding watermarks in real-time. The watermarks must also be extracted directly from the video for immediate identification of pirate sources (which cannot be done using “non-blind” approaches that require comparison with the original unmarked video).

Content infringers typically need time and stability to plan for hacking, trial-and-error strategies, and devise reverse-engineering techniques. Dynamic watermarking lets content creators quickly renew and adapt watermarks, even modify them for every live event if needed.

As dynamic watermarks are software-based, they can easily reach a huge range of devices that sports fans watch matches on. They are also undetectable to the viewer and pirates, and can be scaled up swiftly since they are based on the cloud. In addition, they are independent of resolution to accommodate future increases in resolution as well as operate on low video resolutions to identify the source of piracy. Dynamic watermarks are unique for every viewer and appear at random spots in the video. Sharing or recording the video thus reveals the piracy source. They are also difficult to remove without cropping the video clip or compromising on its quality, both of which render it unfit to be reused. Some dynamic watermarks are also retained during illegal acquisition (cam recording, screencasting, etc.) and during storage (re-encoding, aspect ratio change, etc.).

Trey Rory
the authorTrey Rory