Major production studios in the world constantly put pressure on the OTT industry to ensure the security of their content. The OTT platforms use multiple methods to ensure that only the legitimate user can access premium video content and pirates are kept out of the distribution system. These platforms use digital rights management (DRM), video watermarking, and anti-screen-capturing technologies to assure content owners.
There are many DRM systems in the world that cater to different formats of digital assets. However, the OTT industry has relied on the DRM systems developed by big tech companies. They have placed faith in Google’s Widevine, Apple’s FairPlay, and Microsoft’s PlayReady systems.
The primary reason for relying on these three DRM systems is that they are tied to operating systems and web browsers, which are developed and owned by the very companies that develop DRM technologies. Widevine is the go-to security technology for managing DRM protected content on Android devices and Chrome and Firefox web browsers on PCs, while FairPlay addresses DRM concerns in Apple devices and Safari browser. Microsoft loses out in this equation, as its Windows phones were not accepted by consumers and it has lost market dominance in the web browser category. However, since content leakage can take place from any browser or device—including an old Windows phone—OTT platforms need to build in PlayReady in their multi-DRM suite as well.
The popular DRM tools bring in many advantages for the OTT industry. They ensure that hackers/users cannot download videos through customized code, plugins, or browser-based modules on the operating system they are called for playback. These DRM tools also prevent screen capture in most devices. This feature is a function of the operating system libraries, so Google and Apple have an advantage over their competitors for this reason.
Google acquired Widevine Technologies in 2010 just as video streaming was beginning to take shape and its competitors were also developing their own DRM technologies, like Apple developed FairPlay and Windows developed PlayReady. The DRM tool developed by Widevine Technologies was meant to create an alternative to smart cards which offered security in set-top boxes.
The other way to discourage screen capture of videos is using forensic watermarks in every frame. While it does not stop the screen-capturing process, it allows watermarks to travel with the captured copy. It allows content owners to track the piracy ecosystem for stolen content and prepares the ground for legal action against hackers or networks.