Protection of premium video content from piracy using Google’s Widevine DRM and Forensic Watermarking technology

By virtue of its Widevine brand, Google has become a global leader in DRM technology. The key to its global expansion is its user base of Android mobile devices, smart TVs, and Chrome and Firefox web browsers. Even in the most populous parts of the world, Google’s apps and devices outnumber those of their closest rivals by a wide margin in almost every category. More and more content providers are relying on Widevine to protect their content from sophisticated pirate attacks, as over-the-top (OTT) video content becomes more popular.

As a result, OTT apps must recognise the importance of a multi-DRM SaaS vendor in the consumer market. Multi-DRM technologies, such as Microsoft’s PlayReady and Apple’s FairPlay, can be used to encrypt content on their platforms.

The Google Widevine DRM system employs a dual software- and hardware-based approach to protect premium video content and live sports streams. In order to accomplish this, it divides the security suite into three tiers: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The L1 and L2 levels focus on hardware, while the L3 level is software-based and geared toward web browser content consumption. There are active synergies between Intel, Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Realtek among other chip makers in the first two levels, which are currently operational. This collaboration is essential to prevent piracy because L1 and L2 type security is implemented through device processors. Decryption and processing of video are performed in the processor’s trusted execution environment, L1 and L2.

For HD and UHD playback, Hollywood studios prefer hardware-based security over software-based as these levels are more robust than L3. When studios use software-based security, they tend to send a lower-quality video signal.

Video watermarking streams on over-the-top (OTT) platforms is a second level of security mandated by the studios. Forensic watermarks, rather than DRM technology, aid content owners in tracing the source of leaks in the event of a successful attack. Multi-DRM vendor embeds data about the user’s session, time and date, and other metadata in each frame of video using forensic watermarking technology. Encoding and re-encoding piracy attacks can’t get past a strong watermark, so the content owner can take legal action against the culprit.