Forensic watermarking has application areas beyond just identifying source of piracy of OTT content

Forensic watermarking is widely emerging as a robust security mechanism for protecting premium content streamed by OTT and IPTV platforms and a critical tool for content creators and distributors in negating video piracy.

Imperceptibility, robustness, and efficiency makes watermarking an indispensable proposition in various application areas, some of which are detailed below:

Copyright protection: The invisible nature of unique code identifiers makes forensic watermarking an ideal tool for studios to track the source in the event of a content leak. The real-time identifier insertion into the content makes it impossible for the attackers to fake the watermark. A watermark complements DRM protected content, ensures end-to-end copyright protection, and protects the business-critical media revenue model.

Tampering identification: Forensic watermarking comes with an in-built robust anti-tampering technology. The watermark embedder inserts identifiers unique to every copy of the streamed content in real-time and then relays the content stream. This encoding process ensures the integrity of the whole video stream, much like a checksum. Tampering with any media object in the video stream distorts the watermark also. The watermark detector analyzes each frame of the pirated video content, comparing the original watermark with the payload. The session information will reveal where the tampering happened and by whom.

Clandestine communication: Forensic watermarking has exciting opportunities in steganography. The secret information concealed within media files is made robust and undetectable through watermarking to ensure message integrity and prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. It also prevents data exfiltration by unauthorized malicious third parties through watermark payload detection and session-based manifest identification.

Traffic analysis: The data flow through video streams needs analysis to establish end-to-end monitoring and integrity throughout the data loop. Flow watermarking allows active traffic analysis through non-blind approaches and invisible watermarks. A unique identifier identifies every network packet transmitted between two systems and identifies an anonymous communication system. Watermarking, thus, helps in intrusion detection, traffic policing, and appropriate mitigations.

Access control: It is critical to have restrictive access in place for sensitive information to shield it from unintended receivers. The inserted watermark acts as an authentication mechanism to determine whether streamed media content contains or does not contain the media payload. The encoded watermark requires keys to decrypt, which are available only with the intended users. This also ensures privacy control.

The application areas of forensic and video watermarking are growing and make it an indispensable tool to secure DRM protected content from looming attackers and ensure end-to-end secure and hassle-free premium content delivery across video streaming services.

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