OTT platforms use forensic watermarking technology to protect their premium content against piracy. This technology helps copyright owners tract each piece of content even after it has undergone multiple encoding and recording changes.
There are primarily two types of approaches to insert watermarks in each video frame. In the client-side watermark, the video watermarking process takes place at the side of the client side after a user has sent a query for playback. It means that the client player gets a watermarked video asset in a stream before playback in which each frame has been encoded. The downside of this process is that since the actual watermark is embedded at the level of the client device, there is a theoretical possibility of security compromise.
The other option is the server-side watermarking. The server already hosts DRM protected content, which takes care of user authentication and content encryption. The server-side watermarking is considered a safer approach by security experts, as it does not expose unprotected content to a wide audience before a watermark is applied.
Another important feature of server-side watermarking is that it is device agnostic. Device fragmentation worries security experts. They have developed a complicated multi-DRM system to address this concern. But, in the case of forensic watermarks, a server-side scheme solves the problem in one step. The mixing of A/B video streams with watermark ID can be played in any device. The watermark stays robust and invisible even during many recording processes carried out by the piracy ecosystem.
A content owners has to strike a balance between the robustness of a forensic watermark and its imperceptibility. Since the payload per frame is limited, the balance between these two aspects is key to a secure and smooth experience for the viewer. Content owners cannot afford to overdo the security aspect as it can come in the way of the viewing experience of legitimate users. A forensic watermarking service is considered successful if its watermarks can withstand piracy attacks as well as stay imperceptible to address both issues of security and seamlessness.