Scaeva Technologies: Rethinking the Science of Content Protection

Content theft continues to plague the media and entertainment industry. And Scaeva Technologies is looking at new ways to tackle the problem.

Steve Curd, president and CEO of Scaeva Technologies, spoke with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about the different content protection needs for different areas of entertainment and the need for better science behind content protection technology.

MESA: How did Scaeva come about, what was the impetus for you founding the company?

Curd: For several years, my wife Wendy and I had been studying the immense threat of content theft and piracy to the entertainment industry. We were incredulous at the millions of dollars being lost literally every day, and the direct economic impact that this was having on incredibly talented artists, studios, labels, and other content creators. Our conclusion was grim: content theft would ultimately result in less music, film and TV, and eventually even fewer musicians, filmmakers, and directors, with a profound impact on culture. We were also surprised to find that despite numerous prior initiatives, this immense problem was actually worsening! This was unacceptable to us, and early in 2017 we co-founded Scaeva Technologies with a bold vision: discovering significantly more effective ways to protect the art of music and cinema industry professionals.

MESA: What makes ScaevaSAFE unique, how does it stand out compared to other content protection technologies?

Curd: We broadened the use of the term “protect” as it relates to digital content. First, no existing technologies have proven to be sufficiently robust, so we were forced to turn to emerging science, and literally invent new approaches and technologies. One of Scaeva’s first team members joined as our chief science officer, so we have been able to re-think the science behind protecting and reproducing digital content with fresh, new approaches. We also share a deep respect for the creative process, resulting in our intense focus on integrating within creative workflows. So, another early Scaeva team addition was an enormously talented user experience designer.

We also define “protect” in terms of reproducing the precise sounds and emotional reactions intended by the artist. This required us to re-think everything in the signal chain, ranging from 100% lossless software algorithms, to the first new speaker driver innovations in over 90 years. Although we first released a software platform, we also recently unveiled the world’s first truly green speaker technology with incredible audible performance, much greater power efficiency, and containing no environment-damaging rare earth materials.

MESA: Especially when it comes to pre-release technologies, what could content companies be doing better today, to keep their content safe?

Curd: For far too long, engineers and other “technical types” have been calling the shots when it comes to content protection. Of course, solid encryption technology is clearly important, however the best technology in the world is ineffective if it is not used by the artists and professionals involved in creating the content. It is absolutely essential that any protection solution be sensitive to the challenges of the artists, sound engineers, and sound designers, and fit their workflow like a glove. If protection tools are hard to use, they will be circumvented or ignored. And today, they frequently are.

MESA: What are some of the different pre-release content protection needs for TV vs. film vs. music?

Curd: We discovered early on that the characteristics of digital content are very diverse – music, versus film and TV sound tracks, versus video files. We found it interesting that the industry usually applies a “one size fits all” philosophy. Not only is the content different, the workflows also have substantial differences. So Scaeva developed a set of technologies we called Content Aware™ encryption. This enables our customers to integrate our tools into the creative workflow, enabling the technology to determine the best form of protection based on the type of content. For example, when working with episodic TV, the ScaevaSAFE distinguishes between audio and video material, and treats each differently.

This has the effect of improving speed and effectiveness while minimizing impact to the workflow, which in turn, reduces the likelihood that encryption will be circumvented during the creative process. We are also sensitive to collaborative differences across different media and have built a platform which can adapt across small numbers of collaborators (including individual creators), as well as large distributed teams of collaborators managing multiple components of the creative process.

MESA: What are some of Scaeva’s favorite use-case examples, where companies have made especially good use of your services?

Curd: With music production, we are always pleased to hear from well-known rock stars (including Grammy award-winning recording engineers) about how important it is to protect their work prior to release, and how easy our solution is to integrate and utilize. We are also pleased with reception from top security-minded post-houses, for both film and TV work. We believe that the future leaders in the entertainment industry will be the ones that understand their awesome responsibility to protect the security of their clients’ valuable content, and who work closely with cybersecurity companies such as Scaeva to always remain one step ahead of the pirates through innovation.

MESA: What’s next for Scaeva, what content protection enhancements are in the pipeline?

Curd: With our encouraging early progress, we are now working on broader commercialization of our ScaevaSAFE protection product, across music, film and episodic TV workflows. We believe that protecting content is an ongoing journey, not a destination, and have already designed the next generation of pirate-foiling encryption technologies to layer within our platform. Regarding our hardware devices, we are very excited about our content creator-focused professional headphone driver technology, which protects content integrity and is designed for engineers and artists who spend hours wearing headphones. And we have just unveiled the world’s first truly green ActiveMag speaker design, which brings unprecedented environmental responsibility to sound reproduction, while requiring 50% less power, and amazingly, can support physical decryption of digital content within the speaker driver itself, as a future feature.

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