Aspera, Irdeto Execs Tout Benefits of Watermarking Partnership

A strategic partnership between Aspera and Irdeto — where Irdeto’s TraceMark forensic watermarking has been integrated into Aspera’s fast and secure protocol (FASP) data transfer technology — provides several benefits to media and entertainment companies, according to executives from both companies.

Advantages of TraceMark integration includes one-step preparation in a company’s content management system (CMS), the ability for files to be individually watermarked by the distributor, and the ability of illicit copies to be tracked directly to the source of that piracy, Lawrence Low, VP of business development and sales at Irdeto, said during an Aug. 25 webinar. An added plus is that no extra storage is required, he said.

In a nutshell, the combination of the technologies provides real-time forensic watermark insertion with no impact on transfer speed or quality for the delivery of content, according to Aspera and Irdeto. Content owners can enable TraceMark on a per asset, per download basis when creating transfer packages and that control can be embedded directly into any CMS in an existing workflow that already integrates Aspera FASP, the companies said ahead of the webinar.

TraceMark forensic watermarking seamlessly protects high-value content from the content owner to the distributor, whether the distribution is done via a pay TV service, electronic sell-through or traditional retail sales, Low said during the webinar. TraceMark embeds an invisible, robust mark in the data that uniquely identifies each stream, he said.

Each company’s technology is enhanced by the other’s, he said, pointing out that the TraceMark insertion in a company’s CMS ensures that there will be “zero impact” on a FASP file transfer.

Right now, however, the watermark is strictly for video content, although Irdeto said it is open to additional applications. It will also not work with all video codecs, although the company is looking to support more. Irdeto currently supports HD50, XDCAM and ProRes, but support for MP4 and J2K/IMF is in development and will be available in the next few months, a company spokeswoman said.

More than 2 billion devices are currently protected by Irdeto services that include Blu-ray Disc and online piracy protection, Low said.

There are about 3,000 Aspera customers now that have struggled with moving digital files and other data over IP networks globally, Todd Kelly, Aspera product marketing director, said during the webinar.

There are four “fundamental challenges” that Aspera and its clients struggle with when it comes to digital media transport today, he said. They include the size of files and the number of files being transported over a network, he said, adding: “Over time, file sizes — particularly in media — have grown as resolution has gone from 2K, 4K and coming up to 8K.” The other challenges are sending large files over distance due to latency issues, the speed of transporting those files, and control of those files, he said.

The Irdeto and Aspera partnership was “essential in order for Fox to deploy a forensic watermarking solution seamlessly without affecting the user experience and having minimal impact on the workflow,” Ian Harvey, SVP of advanced technology at 20th Century Fox, said in a news release when the pact was announced Jan. 6. The managed service and end-to-end solution “will greatly improve the transfer of large forensically marked files to our customers, allowing for rapid sharing while enabling premium content tracking to help manage redistribution piracy,” he said.