Illegal OTT boxes are the new P2P piracy

03 Jun 2016

Online video piracy is alive and well in 2016, but the threat landscape has shifted from straight conditional access (CA) technology and P2P file-sharing to illegal OTT set-top-boxes (STBs) that connect users to sites that look like professional OTT service providers with fancy EPGs, but are in fact hosting stolen content.

“So these new-age pirates are no longer hacking the CA on the STB, they are selling their own STBs and delivering illegal content through them,” says Bengt Jonsson, VP of Asia-Pacific at Irdeto.

Combating that involves some tried-and-true techniques like watermarking so stolen content can be identified. But that’s just the start, says Jonsson.

“You also need a monitoring service to go and find stolen content on these sites and identify it,” he says. “And you need a takedown service where you go to the ISPs and tell them, ‘We represent this customer, this is their content and it’s pirated,’. And you have to monitor for compliance.”

Irdeto supplies all of these services, and also has agreements with major e-commerce sites like Alibaba and eBay under which they will remove illegal OTT STBs from the site when Irdeto identifies them.

However, says Jonsson, this kind of piracy is a global problem that requires cooperation from both the pay-TV operators (as well as industry organizations like CASBAA) and regulators who police copyright infringement.

A challenge to the latter is jurisdictional issues - for example, what do you do when content produced in Australia is being pirated for an OTT box sold in Ukraine?

“We start by using watermarking and fingerprinting to trace the source of the content, and from there we can locate the subscriber and block them and see where the traffic is going,” says Roger Harvey, Irdeto’s ANZ managing director. “So we can determine both where the pirate site is and where they got the content from.”

The rest is up to legislation frameworks in each country to not only combat piracy, but keep up with changing delivery models such as the shift from linear pay-TV to multiscreen OTT.

Interestingly, the ability to track and monitor stolen content also gives Irdeto’s customers valuable data on how popular certain content is and where.

“We have what’s called a heat map, where our customers can see what content is being consumed in what area, legally or illegally, which shows demand for it,” Jonsson says. “An effective way to combat online piracy is to deliver a legal alternative, so with this, data content owners can see what viewers want so much that they’re willing to pirate it if it’s not available.”

Last week, Irdeto partnered with Taiwan-based ALi Corp, which will integrate Irdeto’s security solutions on its latest generation chipset offerings for STBs.

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