Amazon has patented a new anti-piracy technology that can track streaming pirates who record and upload copyrighted content.
The idea behind this new technique is to add personally identifiable information (which may be visible or not) dynamically to the streaming content. In layman’s terms, it proposes a technology to add unique markers to streaming video.
Think of these markers as unique identification data generated and attached to the metadata when users stream the content on a specific device and via a specific network. At every step, such markers will be added which would create a unique and identifiable sequence that can be used to trace back to the original point of the leak.
Now, these types of ‘watermark’ aren’t exactly new, but Amazon’s implementation is. Moreover, this patent is comparatively a cheaper option for detecting the source of pirated movies or TV-shows.
This is why Amazon is confident about its newly obtained patent and hopes to make it easier to find people who leak their content.
The patent titled “encoding identifiers into customized manifest data” also mentions that it can be used for various other purposes, but copyright enforcement is the top name on the list.
These Identifiers Won’t Be Easy To Remove
Amazon writes that it is preferable if the identifiers are invisible to the human eye but can be detected via its technology.
“Not only does that make it more difficult for content pirates to detect, alter, remove, or otherwise defeat the overlay, it ensures that the quality of the video content being marked with a version identifier is not significantly degraded.”
So instead of encoding the identifier or watermarking the video content, Amazon will add the identifiers to the manifest data. Hence, it would be easy to apply this solution at the individual level and find out exactly who was responsible for leaking the content.
This method can prove useful for protecting not only Amazon’s own streaming content, but other rightsholders may also want to license it later on.
It Works On Live Content Too!
I think the best part about this technology is its ability to work on live streams as well. Amazon specifically mentions live streaming content, such as NFL matches, including the Super Bowl in the patent file.
Not only will the live streams be telecasted with individual identifiers, but they’d also be able to carry more distinguishing information such as people’s location.
But There Are Certain Caveats
It is to be noted that the personal identifiers in question (given its accuracy) can also be seen as potential trackers, which have been the center of privacy issues. So on the flip side, this technology may be viewed as an invader of privacy. And this will be one of the biggest challenges for Amazon to convince users otherwise.
We do not know if Amazon has already implemented this technology, but it has made its intentions to track pirating subscribers very clear. However, the actual effectiveness of this technology on the ground remains to be seen.