Cisco Considers New Anti-Piracy Approach a Game-Changer

For the longest time, content owners and distributors have had to tackle online piracy in a mostly legal fashion, sending notifications to search engines, web sites and hosting companies to take down links to content. It’s a laborious process and doesn’t help catch live streams as quickly as content companies like.

Cisco Systems wants to change that.

The company has developed is developing a different approach to piracy prevention, launching a Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) service that uses technology to find illegal content, using forensic watermarking, and shuts down the sources of illegitimate content through video security systems. The automated process has the piracy monitoring tech of Friend MTS, an anti-piracy firm, feeding Cisco’s service.

“What we’re using is technology, where it can locate illicit content on both the open internet, and the closed networks that require you to subscribe to a service or set-top boxes,” said Amit Wohl, with Cisco’s video security product management division. “Once we identify a piece of content that we think is being sourced from our service, using a forensic watermark, we can take action through the video security system to essentially revoke entitlement to the device it came from.”

“The ability to do this in real time is what makes it effective in dealing with piracy, especially when you talk about live events.”

The solution — which is in pilot testing with Cisco customers — came as a result of Cisco’s interviews with service providers who distribute the content, who continuously struggle with preventing illegal distribution of live events, especially sporting events.

According to Friend MTS, in the last month it uncovered more than 22,000 unique channels on pirate services, sourced from legitimate pay TV service providers, and the quality of the content has become better than ever, with thousands of HD-quality pirated streams, and even an Ultra High-Def (UHD) channel being delivered in HEVC at 15 Mbps.

“With a prior focus on low-resolution streaming through web sites that were notoriously riddled with inappropriate advertising and malware, streaming piracy has transformed to match consumer demand for high definition multiscreen delivery,” Wohl wrote in a blog post. “In the past pirate streaming sites have targeted the highest profile sports events; now pirate services are delivering whole channel packages into smart devices (mobile, tablet, smart TVs), IPTV set-top boxes, and plug-ins for video streamers and other such devices.”

Cisco hopes that its new solution, once it hits market, will allow service providers to more effectively monetize their live content, keeping it available exclusively through licensed channels.