Focus on Piracy: How Keeping Pirates at Bay Can Safeguard Growth

Safeguarding premium Content with Anti-Piracy Solutions
In our latest blog, Olivier Biot explores how premium content can be safeguarded from piracy attacks. He also discusses examples of where NAGRA has helped content rights owners disrupt piracy for premium live content.

As my colleague Tim Pearson recently wrote in his blog series about ‘Inside the Mind of a Pirate, high-traffic live events have always been a target for pirates. The opportunity to profit substantially by distributing illegal live or recorded streams to large audiences is often a risk worth taking. Major events such as the FIFA World Cup, the English Premier League, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, to name a few, are all increasingly reaching a global audience. Combined with the acceleration of digital transformation, piracy is more than ever a significant risk in terms of financial impact and brand reputation for sports rights owners. Therefore, protecting valuable content investments is critical given sports play a key role in providing a sustainable streaming or broadcast model. 

When it comes to driving effective action against piracy, the best response involves an in-depth understanding of complex pirate ecosystems to drive optimal enforcement action against crucial content and service piracy targets. The activities can be undertaken by an in-house team or outsourced to anti-piracy specialists such as NAGRA. 

I recently sat down with the NAGRA Anti-Piracy team to learn more about what this means in practiceThey advocate a three-step approach: 


Step 1: Identify The Targets 

Collecting intelligence is the first vital component to help focus on the main hubs of the piracy problem. NAGRA Anti-Piracy Services components such as our Threat Intelligence service crawls the Internet 24/7, 365 days a year. This helps to discover and analyse storefronts proposing pirate servicesThese include dedicated websites, offers within online marketplaces, social media pages, Kodi repositories, app stores, playlist-sharing sites, CDN and multi-DRM logs and forums. They’ll show the detail on pirate services including content offerings (such as pay-per-view (PPV)), language(s), pricing, payment processors, supported user devices, site certificates, Google Analytics IDs, social media accounts, DNS records, links to other sites and much more. To conflate this data NAGRA uses proprietary popularity ranking algorithms to estimate the relative popularity of each service, categorized across geographical marketsThis pinpoints the most impactful targets and helps to prioritize customers valuable resources. 


Step 2: Explore The Wider Environment 

With the intelligence sourced and collated, the next step in a comprehensive anti-piracy strategy is to efficiently target investigation efforts toward the paths of most interest with a view to identifying enforcement actions. NAGRA teams build extensive intelligence on criminal organizations by automatically gathering, correlating, and processing data from a multitude of internal and external data sources, including NAGRA's proprietary data feeds. Repetitive patterns are detected and graphical representations of pirate ecosystems created which visually expose critical actors and infrastructureThis highlights links between entities that may have been overlooked in traditional investigations. These exploration efforts can drastically reduce investigator workload by enabling rapid extraction of relevant information from large datasets, selecting what is useful, and discarding what is not.. 


 Step 3: Take Decisive Action 

With targets identified and validated through a comprehensive view of the wider landscape, the final stage is to take decisive action against those profiteering from the content investments of othersThis stage can require investment and effort to track, document, and prosecute piracy. While some operators have dedicated in-house teams to enforce their anti-piracy strategy, NAGRA can provide actionable investigation reports, help streamline legal action, or engage directly with law enforcement. NAGRA is also working closely with organizations worldwide, such as AVIA – through their Coalition Against Piracy ("CAP") and the Alianza Contra Pirateria de Televisión Paga in Latin America -  that broaden their approach to piracy through multi-disciplined consortia of companies that all have a role to play in apprehending the pirates.  


NAGRA in Action 

As a strategic partner, NAGRA has supported several major sports rights owners such as beIN Sports and CANAL+  through effective solutions and strategies to protect content and revenue, across both managed and unmanaged devices. But we also provide different elements of a multistage approach to help our customers identify piracy threats, undertake analysis and investigations, and enable legal actions. 

Another key tool required for the fight against piracy is Forensic Watermarking. Included as part of the NAGRA Active Streaming Protection framework, Forensic Watermarking plays an essential role in identifying devices or distribution networks involved in illegal subscriptions. And with most operators offering Broadcast and OTT services, a mix of different watermarking solutions are often required to sharpen understanding of piracy patterns and make the right decisions. Client-side watermarking implementation can be very effective on set-top boxes. However, for OTT services pirates rely on older OTT devices and can bypass apps by exploiting DRM vulnerabilities. This is where network-based solutions also play a part in the game, as watermarking is inserted at the CDN level, preventing the pirates from relying on client-side vulnerabilities. 


Get In Touch To Learn More 

With major live sporting events and other premium content providing a significant financial opportunity for pirates, a successful anti-piracy strategy requires a constant re-evaluation of the techniques used to adapt to constantly changing pirates' plans. This should be coupled with a strong partnership with the operators, to not only shut down pirate redistribution networks, but also proactively take measures to prevent piracy in the first place. 

 Are you facing similar challenges with pirates threatening your investment in premium content and high-profile live events? If yes, we'd love to continue the conversation, so get in touch with our team of experts or read further about NAGRA Active Streaming Protection and Anti-Piracy Services on our website.