About Video Piracy

tvstrategies Piracy Monitor is a go-to resource with news, analysis and executive insights for video service providers, content providers and other industry stake-holders that need to understand and reduce the risks associated with video piracy.

What do we mean by Piracy?

Video piracy is the illegal or non-legitimate re-distribution of video content, from services that include pay TV, live streaming, cloud-based services and on-demand streaming.

Video programming via legitimate delivery

Most consumers receive legitimate video programming either from a video service provider (through managed distribution, such as cable TV), or from an aggregator via the open Internet (such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and many others). The following diagram illustrates this “legitimate domain.” For purposes of this discussion, we won’t talk about distribution using DVDs and other physical media.

The pirate domain

Pirates can steal content from many points along the chain of legitimate distribution. These include:
  • Screen-recording
  • The receiving end of a screen-sharing session
  • Software, OS, Player tampering
  • Video pipeline in the device hardware
  • Wire-based connections: HDCP ripper on HDMI.  Analog recording.
  • Attacks to watermark in digital video content
  • Theft or sharing of access credentials to a streaming video service,
  • ‘Man-in-the-middle’ attacks over networks
  • Content usage after transport over virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • Storage breaches (nDVR, VOD, Mezzanine files) in a distributor’s data center
  • Encoding/transcoding breaches in a Headend, Streaming or Cloud
And this is not to mention:
  • Further upstream at Capture or In-Studio, Digital Dailies, Production, Post-Production, Pre-release, Distribution to MVPD or cinema, at reception…
  • In Development: Theft of crypto. keys or video content in a DevOps pipeline…

Stolen content and paths to the consumer

Once content has been stolen, it can find its way to consumers in a variety of ways, including:
  • File sharing, using legitimate FTP services, or via torrent
  • App stores and software that runs on retail streaming devices
  • Web sites that masquerade as legitimate video portals
  • Sharing via social media sites

Pirates appear to be legitimate

Pirate sites are not always obvious.  They often have high production values and can even attract advertising from legitimate retailers.  The following illustration shows a Web movie store and a Web video portal with hundreds of channels (and customer support!). The Amazon screen shot is a search result for Amazon Fire TV and Kodi software.  Kodi is the software once used in the Microsoft Xbox Media Center and is totally legimitate, but it has become a favorite distribution mechanism for pirate apps.  Kodi developers are working hard to put this practice to an end.

And that's far from all

This page barely scratches the surface of the Piracy problem.  Another method of attack is credential (password) sharing, and its cousin, credential theft. In addition, a wide variety of countermeasures and best practices are becoming available. The contents of this page will soon become a downloadable tvstrategies Piracy Monitor White Paper.

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