Fighting online piracy in a 4K world

November 10, 2014 andrewwajs

In February 1996, chess champion Gary Kasparov beat Deep Blue, the world’s strongest chess computer. Having suffered a defeat to the computer earlier, Kasparov changed his approach. His moves focused on where the short-term position was cloudy and there was no imminent tactical objective. 

He did what the computer wasn’t expecting; hadn’t been designed to handle.

The game has changed
Just like Deep Blue, CA and DRM systems were designed with particular parameters in mind. They were designed to protect access to content. But the opponent’s approach has changed. Pirates have moved from access rights sharing to redistributing content itself. As I explained in my last post, 4K provides the opportunity for the security landscape to be changed again.

Let’s imagine
So what would a 4K content security solution look like; how might it work? In essence, the solution needs to facilitate and secure the forensic process; terminating the content leakage instantaneously across any distribution channel. Let’s take OTT as an example.

When watermarked content is detected, the subscriber involved in this illegal activity is blacklisted within seconds. Their rights revoked; immediately stopping the flow of new content.

Effective results come from making the content unique as early in the process as is feasible. And having the control to implement, what I call, a kill switch as soon as illegal activity is detected.

Nice theory, what about practicalities
Staying with the OTT example; for rights to be revoked in real-time a change is needed.  Blending DRM and the content security solution together enhances the effectiveness.  With a traditional DRM you’re issued with a license for the content; you have a key for the entire file. The session manager of the content security solution adds the extra control.  Every couple of seconds, it resolves the identification of the user and allows authorized users to access the next piece of content. Once illegal activity is detected, the access is stopped instantaneously. For legal viewers, with only tens of millisecond delay, the user experience of watching a live channel is unchanged.

Why wait?
For me, this means that tracing and stopping the content leak will become the priority.  And, it’s encouraging to see that I’m not alone in this thinking. Hollywood studios are pushing for watermarking, the Secure Content Storage Association want more stringent controls and sports content owners such as the Barclays Premier League and its licensees also recognize its importance.

Yes, some changes are required to current CA/DRM systems to change their parameters to fit the new 4K approach. Content protection remains an important component in the mix. But its primary role in fighting piracy must be to enable forensics.

In fact, the winning formula to fighting online piracy is a combination of state of the art technology, which supports legacy devices and a services layer around it. Why wait for 4K to start?

June 2016: Want to know more about going from Risk to Reward with 4K/UHD? Download our latest white paper.

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