Why your video watermarking solution should be DRM agnostic

Over-the-top (OTT) and streaming content has seen a tremendous rise in demand in recent years. This has also put strenuous demands on OTT platforms to secure their content from unauthorized access and piracy attacks. To cater to the growing demand for premium content, digital content must be equipped with end-to-end content protection techniques, so that it secures the interests of both the consumer as well as the content producer.

Traditionally, premium content owners have relied on digital rights management (DRM) technology to control its usage to the rightful subscribers. DRM technology uses cryptography to encode digital content so that it can only be played on DRM-enabled video players and prevents it from being copied or accessed illegally. Most OTT platforms use the multi-DRM approach to make their content universally available irrespective of the operating system of the client device. Some common DRM technologies are Google’s Widevine, which is used in Android devices, Chrome browser, Roku,etc., Microsoft’s PlayReady, which is used in most set-top boxes and TVs and Microsoft browsers, and Apple’s FairPlay, which is used in Safari browser and Apple devices.

However, DRM protected content alone is not the absolute protection against revenue leaks to piracy, and content providers need an additional layer of security in the form of forensic video watermarking. In video watermarking technology, an imperceptible sequence of codes or watermarking data, which is unique to each user and device, is directly embedded into the video content at the time of encoding, which can be extracted later to identify the exact source of leakage.

Watermarking solutions should be dynamic, robust, and scalable to provide efficient content protection, since they come under sophisticated piracy attacks regularly, especially when the content is of premium quality. To address this problem, video watermarking technology should be DRM agnostic to cater to the immense device fragmentation across global markets, which is broadly divided among Apple, Google, and Microsoft devices and browsers, and seamlessly integrate with various components in the entire content delivery network (CDN).

Since a significant number of users view OTT content on desktop browsers, and no single DRM licensing service can cater to all kinds of browsers, a forensic watermarking solution needs to be applicable everywhere. Most browsers today use HTML5 web standards to play online content and use Extended Media Extensions specifications to manage DRM-protected videos. The content decryption module, which is provided by major browsers as a plugin, decrypts the chunks of protected video assets pushed through CDNs and allows the browser’s HTML5 player to play them on the user device.

This is the point at which content leakage can take place. Therefore, a robust forensic watermarking solution needs to be unique to the device, session, and DRM technology of the client device to be traceable to the right culprit.