In web browsers, premium video content is securely played through forensic watermarking and DRM-based content decryption module

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The rise of OTT platforms is ubiquitous across geographies. Now they compete with cable TV and are accessed by audiences in a plethora of devices. Multiplicities of devices and content play in browsers on desktops have contributed to the popularity of OTT content on the one hand but also has exposed this content to the piracy ecosystem. Content owners and OTT platforms rely on digital rights management (DRM) technology to manage users and ensure that only legitimate devices are authorized to play the premium content. A DRM module can set a limit to the number of devices or users per account, which, in turn, lets the OTT company to devise subscription plans accordingly.

When video assets are encoded before being sent to a content delivery network (CDN) using a DRM license from vendors like Google Widevine, Microsoft, or Apple. Each video player in a client browser or device needs to communicate with the licensing server before the video file can be decrypted. The communication between the video player and the licensing servers needs to be encrypted as well. This follows a challenge-response system of encryption and prevents the licensing keys from being intercepted by hackers. This encryption is done using the AES algorithm needing the unique key and iey ID.

Since encrypted video needs to be decrypted before the browser play can play it, the browser requires a content decryption module (CDM). This is crucial in the DRM system without which the targeted video cannot be played. The communication between the browser and the CDM takes place through encrypted media extensions (EMEs), which are APIs in browsers. The OTT content is played through an HTML5 player in web browsers. EMEs allow the use of HTML5 in browsers. A combination of the CDM and an HTML5 browser accommodates the DRM requirements as well as negate the need to download video content through extensions like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight.

However, despite the best protection offered by a DRM module, the content can still get leaked. Content owners need to add video watermarking technology to its suite of security tools. If a video files is leaked despite the DRM protection, the forensic watermark contained in it can be extracted and the source of leakage can be identified. There are multiple ways in which DRM video protection protects a video asset. It includes embedding a code sequence in the video asset to prevent copying. DRM technology can also create user restrictions based on time periods, for example, for how many days a piece of content stays accessible to a particular user. Further, this technology can limit the number of devices a user account can be operated on. It allows OTT players to sell their subscription plans accordingly.

While a browser can support one or more CDMs – for example, Firefox supports both Google Widevine and Adobe Access CDMs, Internet Explorer supports PlayReady CDM, Microsoft Edge supports PlayReady on Windows 10 and Widevine CDM – content owners need to embed video watermarks in each video segment for that extra bit of protection.


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