Italian Broadcaster Uses Forensic Watermarks to Track Down Online Pirates

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Italian public broadcaster RAI will use the NexGuard watermarking technology to secure its content. The company is the first free-to-air broadcaster to implement NAGRA's anti-piracy technology, which makes it possible to trace the source of online piracy so rightsholders can take appropriate action in response.

pirate-flagThe unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted content is a multi-billion dollar puzzle that entertainment industry companies are desperate to solve.

A lot of effort is going into blocking pirate sites and, occasionally, the operators of these services are taken to court.

The third enforcement option is to go after the people who actually pirate the content. Tracking down these sources isn’t always straightforward but there are a few commercial tools that can help.

One of these anti-piracy solutions is the NexGuard watermarking solution from the content security outfit NAGRA. This can be used by a variety of streaming platforms, including Pay-TV services and regular broadcasters.

Catching Pirates With Watermarks

NexGuard is used for Oscars screeners and AMC Networks also implemented the technology to protect its content. This week, NAGRA announced that the Italian broadcaster RAI has joined the platform as well. RAI is the first free-to-air service to use the watermarking system to track down pirates.

“Our watermarking-based anti-piracy solutions are essential for RAI to effectively monitor copyright infringements and secure the value of the content distributed over OTT/AVOD,” NAGRA’s Thierry Legrand says, commenting on the news.

Watermarking is part of NAGRA’s broader anti-piracy suite which also includes legal services. The company has plenty of experience on this front. It has helped law enforcement authorities to shut down pirate IPTV services and, together with Dish, has filed several lawsuits as well.

From NAGRA’s website

nagra anti-piracy

Watermarking has been around for decades and some online pirates have been quite successful at circumventing these types of roadblocks. However, NAGRA informs TorrentFreak that their solution is quite effective and approved by Hollywood.

Success Stories

The technology has already helped the Academy Awards to prevent Oscar screeners from leaking. And if there are leaks, the audio and video watermarks can help to trace these back to the source.

“We have many success stories showcasing how NAGRA’s NexGuard forensic watermarking has held online pirates accountable,” a NAGRA spokesperson says, adding that the company can’t provide more details without permission from its customers.

“When a leak is detected, the trail to find the perpetrator is immediately activated. It allows intelligence to be created that can assemble a view of how and where pirates are sourcing content and the types of devices they are using,” NAGRA adds.

In addition to holding pirates accountable, watermarks can also serve as a deterrent. While hardcore pirates aren’t easily deterred, these tracking options could scare off more casual infringers.

According to NAGRA, this is just the beginning of what is possible in protecting copyrighted content. The company is convinced that these and other technological measures will help rightsholders to successfully combat piracy.


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