NAGRA: “Always-On Security” Required for Today’s Production and Post-Production World

NAGRA: “Always-On Security” Required for Today’s Production and Post-Production World

July 13, 2022 | In today’s digital world the topic of security is always an important consideration. From home alarms to online password protection measures, protecting valuable assets is always top of mind. When it comes to high-value film and TV content, this precedent remains true – security needs to be always on.

Ken Gerstein

Media content piracy does not just take place once the end product is released. Content is vulnerable from concept and pre-production to production and post-production and then, of course, at the release date and beyond. The good news is that there are exciting industry innovations that deliver a tested and proven always-on security approach to deter unauthorized distribution and provide a level of accountability for anyone with access to that content at any point in its lifecycle.

As an example, Vision Media was able to unlock insights into the importance of always-on security to reveal why there has never been a more critical time to secure high-value content assets during production and post-production. While Vision Media began as a physical media company, sending out promotional content to theaters and DVDs to screeners on behalf of its studio, TV and film clients, in recent years the industry shifted, with a natural evolution from physical to digital.

Exacerbated by the global pandemic, new market dynamics made for a perfect storm where content became even more vulnerable to theft and leaks, paving the way for revenue loss and endangering creativity. This shift to online content reiterated the critical need for new ways to protect quality video content. And it was within this context that Vision Media began collaborative efforts with NAGRA to uncover a viable solution. The goal was to help studios distribute and protect some of their most prized content assets that need to be shared pre-release before monetization even begins.

Enter session-based watermarking. This sophisticated watermarking technology entails six sequential steps. 

  • Pre-processing. Content preparation for B2B streaming, with preprocessing of the A/B watermark variants
  • On-the-fly watermarking. Embedding of imperceptible and robust watermark at the CDN Edge
  • Streaming. Distribution of the watermarked content to its intended recipients
  • Monitoring. If compromised, monitoring, capture of pirated content & collect of material evidence
  • Forensic investigation. Extraction of the content identifiers from the watermark and identification of the leak source
  • Countermeasures and action. Proceeding with countermeasures and legal action

    Session-Based Watermarking and Trusted Screening Solutions

While there is a general consensus that video service providers need digital rights management (DRM) and/or a conditional access system (CAS) as part of their distribution strategy along with wider anti-piracy approaches, for pre-release, there is no substitute for always-on, session-based forensic watermarking.

Session-based forensic watermarking can deter unauthorized distribution and provide for a level of accountability for anyone with access to that content, at any point in its lifecycle. Embraced by various industry players, such as The Hollywood Reporter, this form of watermarking includes an embedded identifier associated with each playback session, whenever it may occur. This allows the content owner to establish a link between the playback session and the user. These enhanced forensic capabilities make it applicable to criminal proceedings and supplements DRM and CAS by protecting decrypted content from escaping undetected, enabling identification and enforcement.

When implemented correctly, this solution delivers key advantages, including:

Imperceptibility: Invisible to the human eye, video assets can be distributed to the viewing public at large, with a distraction-free viewing experience. The identifiers encoded into the session-based watermark are retrievable to extractor tools, which are what makes it possible to track down content that has been pirated.

Robustness: Session-based watermarking has the ability to withstand a wide range of threats, making it impossible for pirates to invalidate. Always on, it can persist through digital/ analog conversion, copying, transcoding, compression, and geometric manipulation.

Quick Detection Turnaround Time: Our approach embeds watermarks during the required encode for a given streaming profile without the need to disrupt that process. This maximizes both video quality and speed. What’s more is that the process of identifying and extracting watermark information is enabled through a mathematical process, that ensures fast, convenient and automated detection.

Protecting Content – Without Limits

Session-based forensic watermarking follows video assets through viewing sessions, enables the tracking and identification of pirated assets, and supports the enforcement of copyright law. The Vision Media is a prime example of a streaming service that wraps session-based forensic watermarking technology within a business services package that is trusted throughout the entertainment industry and protects content from pre-release viewing through any point in its lifecycle.

Ken Gerstein is NAGRA’s Los Angeles-based VP Sales, NAGRA Anti-Piracy.

Download the Always-On Security ebook to learn more about the Vision Media/NAGRA collaborative solution that wraps that technology within a framework of trusted business services.