The Fight Against a New Breed of Pirates

BroadcastAsia’s conference speaker, Pablo Argon, Senior Director Technical Strategy, TV Platforms, Media Solutions at Ericsson shares on the fight against IPTV piracy.

In recent years, the industry has seen how effective a collaborative approach to legal action can be. This March, the British High Court approved the UK Premier League’s effort to shut down unlicensed online streams of their top- There are also technological factors that have accelerated the growth of IPTV piracy. The availability of highbandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) strippers creates an easy way for pirates to grab video streams right out of the HDMI link. For consumers, improved bandwidth is the likely reason for the recent popularity of illegal content streaming. Access continues to be the defining theme for any conversation about the role of consumers in online piracy. It is worth noticing that in many markets, piracy is driven by the lack of legal offerings. There are many examples of high piracy markets where the arrival of legal streaming services has curbed the volume of illegal content distributed. What is often ignored is that consumers who are able to afford legal services prioritise user experience and consistent content quality. While pirates exploit viewers’ need for access, the media and entertainment industry is using sophisticated technology to cut pirates from the supply chain. For example, on most devices capable of consuming HD or Ultra-HD content, Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies are implemented using hardware protection mechanisms made possible by the device chipset. DRM implemented leveraging hardware protection ensures that even on rooted devices the content is still safe.

Lately, Hollywood studios and sport channels are enforcing the use of forensic watermarking as a requirement for content distribution. Forensic watermarking is the process of embedding a non-visible ID on the content enabling it to be traced back and thus identify where the content flight football matches. The Premier League’s effort was supported by their broadcast partners Sky and BT, and they now have the legal mandate to cut connections to servers that host pirated online streams, ensuring the protection of their £5.1bn investment in broadcast rights. Without legal action there is little deterrent for pirates to stop engaging in this illegal business. On the consumer side of things, awareness and education is still the best way to stop or substantially reduce the spread of illegal video streams. A recent survey by Irdeto, indicates that more than 50% of respondents from across the world accessed pirated online video content, in APAC it is higher at 61%. But nearly half of the global respondents indicate that they would stop or watch less illegally accessed content if they were more aware of the damage it causes the media industry. It is evident now that the size, scale, and operation of online pirates is too big to ignore. A broad-spectrum strategy that combines sophisticated technology, firm legal action, and better consumer education will be the strongest and most effective solution to win the ever evolving war on piracy.



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