A new paradigm for dealing with illegal redistribution of content

October 20, 2016 - 23 Comments

Online video piracy is growing and becoming one of the most significant threats facing Pay TV service providers. With a prior focus on low-resolution streaming through web sites that were notoriously riddled with inappropriate advertising and malware, streaming piracy has transformed to match consumer demand for high definition multiscreen delivery. In the past pirate streaming sites have targeted the highest profile sports events; now pirate services are delivering whole channel packages into smart devices (mobile, tablet, smart TVs), IPTV set-top boxes, and plug-ins for video streamers and other such devices.

According to piracy monitoring specialist Friend MTS, in the last month alone its online threat analysis has uncovered over 12,000 unique instances of HD channels (1280 x 720 frame size or higher) on pirate services, being sourced from Pay TV service providers around the world. Expand this to SD resolution, often targeted at mobile devices, and the number increases to over 22,000 channels. With almost no operator is exempt, content is being source from the smallest to the largest Pay TV providers in the market.

The demand for premium content, in every language and into every market, has led to a surge in the supply of pirate services offering a high-quality user interface. The video quality offered is unprecedented, rivalling that on the Pay TV platforms themselves. Bitrates of 4-6 Mbps for HD channels are common, with 1 Mbps H.264/AVC for SD channels. Even an Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) channel being delivered in HEVC at 15 Mbps is on offer.

To effectively monetize live content, both the service providers that distribute content and the rights owners that license it need to ensure that it is available exclusively through licensed channels. Wide availability through illegal services or sites diminishes the value of the content, as paying viewers opt for the cheaper or free options made available by the pirates. Increasingly, rights owners are requiring their licensees to implement greater levels of platform security in order to gain access to their ultra-premium content. But deploying additional security is not always possible or practical, especially on older platforms. And sometimes even the enhanced protections deployed on newer platforms is defeated by pirates, so content remains vulnerable to piracy.

A new approach is needed. Traditional takedown mechanisms such as sending legal notices (commonly referred to as ‘DMCA notices’) are ineffective where pirate services have put in place infrastructure capable of delivering video at tens and even hundreds of gigabits per second, as in essence there is nobody to send a notice to. Escalation to infrastructure providers works to an extent, but the process is often slow as the pirate services will likely provide the largest revenue source for many of the platform providers in question.

For live events the need for a timely detection of piracy and an effective response is even greater.

So, what does one do?

Cisco is pioneering a new approach to piracy prevention. Its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) service utilizes technology to locate illegal redistribution of content on the open internet and closed pirate networks. Using a forensic watermark it identifies the subscriptions/sessions used to source the content, and shuts down the source through the video security system – all in real-time. The process is fully automated, ensuring a timely response to incidents of piracy. Gone are the days of sending a legal notice and waiting to see if anyone will answer; SPP acts without the need to involve or gain cooperation from any third parties, enabling an unmatched level of cross-device retransmission prevention and allowing service providers to take back control of their channels, to maximize their revenue.

In order to tackle live event piracy, Cisco and Friend MTS (FMTS) have partnered to put their respective technologies to work. FMTS’s market leading piracy monitoring capabilities feed the Cisco SPP service with real-time pirated video feeds found on the open Internet, which are used by SPP to locate the source of the leak and shut it down.

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  2. If there is a will, there’s a way…good luck!

  3. Piracy now, freedom forever!

  4. You will never, ever, and that means never, shut down the free and distribution of worthless crap that people want to watch if it is free, but which is NOT WORTH A SINGLE DOLLAR in reality. Go ahead with your little plans. We will circumvent it within 30 days, if not sooner. You are welcome to waste your time putting your finger in one hole in the dike (Yikes!) and seventy-two others will open up immediately. This is entertaining to watch.

  5. If you people still don’t understand or realize what this ACTUALLY means, I simply feel sorry for you guys and girls. What CISCO is doing calls INTERNET CENSORSHIP. And this is just a first minuscule step in their huge and dark agenda. First live streaming piracy, then offline piracy, after that silencing those who speak against the government and spreading the truth around and the last step will be when their entire system is fully functional and spread like a spider-web infecting all computer, cellphone, TV’s and everything that has connectivity is to seek and eliminate those individuals who are against NWO, Antichrist system and refusing to get Mark Of The Beast. To those people who think this is crazy, mad or far fetched PROVE ME WRONG!!!!

    • Have you thought of the artists who pour their hearts and souls into videos and music that aren’t paid because of the piracy?

      • Si, que trabajen como todos por un salario digno. No para amasar mansiones y colecciones de coche de lujo.

  6. CISCO made a mistake investing time into this nonsense. Way to police the internet noobs. I wonder what the internet pioneer’s feelings on this are? Up next, the great American firewall, you can only watch approved content that our masters decide on. No, I do not condone piracy. I don’t condone this either. If I was to pick which to be an activist about, it would have to be this technology.
    -It will happen slowly. The right’s and freedoms will be taken. One law at a time…

  7. Good! why don’t use it for warez also? in warez movies are splitted in many parts with a determinated FILESIZE. it will by quite easy for a scrawler. don’t agree? 🙂

    I hope this technology fight really straming illegal, I want more people join to (italian) Netflix, i hope the add more movies if the have more netflix’s customers 🙂

  8. If Cisco wants to trigger the instant widespread adoption of encrypted video, I can’t think of a better way to do it

  9. why don’t you secure the IOT and the DDOS attacks they engage in first?

  10. Piracy websites will encrypt their streaming with https and them what ?
    This is useless

  11. How about less expensive cable television? How about implementing less price gouging? How about less greed in the world? I guess that wouldn’t make Cisco richer though.

    • So someone stealing content they don’t want to pay for is lecturing others about greed. It truly takes a deranged millennial warped by years of Ritalen to develop such a psychotic sense of morality.

  12. Looks like Cisco is grasping at straws as they look down at their eroding market share. Will this work as well as your Web Filtering product (Iron Port)? If so, it will be riddled with false positives at best, and at worst will block ALL traffic. This will be an Epic Fail, but hey, at least we all know that Cisco is in bed with the MPAA and RIAA. Guess I won’t be buying anymore Cisco crap…

  13. Oh fuck you cisco I’ll continue to enjoy my free movies, shows and sports on demand when I want. I pay comcrap $95 a month for regular internet and cable (NOT EVEN HD) it looks like shit on my 55″ TV. If I have to stream to get a better picture than what I’m paying for you can def fuck off. You’re all a bunch of internet hall monitors. Fucking assholes. Go die

  14. I wondered how long it would take for content providers to adopt this approach. Presumably, given that this is a Cisco solution, it will only work on pay-TV networks using Cisco hardware at the headend and Cisco boxes in customer homes.

    The next question becomes about the robustness of the watermark, and whether it will impact video quality for legitimate consumers.

  15. Good step in the right direction.

  16. Do you guarantee zero false positives? In other words, is it possible that the system will accidentally misidentify legitimate traffic and block it?

    What about operator errors, or malicious misclassification (e.g. false report sent by a competitor to cause another one bad service)? Is there any procedure in place to deal with this rapidly? Who is going to be legally responsible for the losses, the service provider or Cisco?

    Finally, what about the ethics of selling such devices to countries with totalitarian regimes that will use them to block video content they don’t agree with?

    Not trying to nitpick here, I think these are legitimate questions about serious issues.

    • I’m entirely on the same stance with Danielle B.
      If this is not made foolproof with a zero chance of affecting legitimate customers, it is simply abuse of customers.

      That, and the nonsensical claim that “software piracy is a threat to X”, that’s completely false. Numerous published studies have shown that software piracy is responsible for increased sales in both music and games, especially in the former, because it also offers a much wider userbase of potential customers with zero user unfriendly DRM solutions such as Apple’s notorious iTunes store and its track record of losing user data… and consequently their legally obtained purchases.

      Piracy will be flourishing as long as the service you and they provide is less accessible and less user friendly than the alternative the software pirates have provided for free. The rise of both Steam and Netflix have both significantly reduced piracy… not because they employ a DRM system and actively prevent privacy, but because the service is offered at a reasonable cost and is user friendly.

    • If a legitimate customer is hit with a false positive, chances are they’ll simply be able to call their pay-TV operator and to get the service working again.