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Cisco Develops System To Automatically Cut-Off Pirate Video Streams ( 112

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Pirate services obtain content by capturing and restreaming feeds obtained from official sources, often from something as humble as a regular subscriber account. These streams can then be redistributed by thousands of other sites and services, many of which are easily found using a simple search. Dedicated anti-piracy companies track down these streams and send takedown notices to the hosts carrying them. Sometimes this means that streams go down quickly but in other cases hosts can take a while to respond or may not comply at all. Networking company Cisco thinks it has found a solution to these problems. The company's claims center around its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) platform, a system that aims to take down illicit streams in real-time. Perhaps most interestingly, Cisco says SPP functions without needing to send takedown notices to companies hosting illicit streams. "Traditional takedown mechanisms such as sending legal notices (commonly referred to as 'DMCA notices') are ineffective where pirate services have put in place infrastructure capable of delivering video at tens and even hundreds of gigabits per second, as in essence there is nobody to send a notice to," the company explains. "Escalation to infrastructure providers works to an extent, but the process is often slow as the pirate services will likely provide the largest revenue source for many of the platform providers in question." To overcome these problems Cisco says it has partnered with Friend MTS (FMTS), a UK-based company specializing in content-protection. Among its services, FMTS offers Distribution iD, which allows content providers to pinpoint which of their downstream distributors' platforms are a current source of content leaks. "Robust and unique watermarks are embedded into each distributor feed for identification. The code is invisible to the viewer but can be recovered by our specialist detector software," FMTS explains. "Once infringing content has been located, the service automatically extracts the watermark for accurate distributor identification." According to Cisco, FMTS feeds the SPP service with pirate video streams it finds online. These are tracked back to the source of the leak (such as a particular distributor or specific pay TV subscriber account) which can then be shut-down in real time.
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Cisco Develops System To Automatically Cut-Off Pirate Video Streams

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  • by Sean ( 422 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @06:15AM (#53129055)

    The watermarking will just be removed and life will go on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22, 2016 @06:30AM (#53129079)

      Or the watermarks of random cable customers will be added to webcams that show paint drying, to DoS pay TV.

    • by swilver ( 617741 )

      ...or we'll just encrypt the streams

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        VPN is already becoming standard for pirates and porn lovers.

        • Sadly the VPNisnt just for privacy. By tunneling past the ISP, shit just works better. They cant prioritize the traffic, or worse, pass it through a crappy overloaded transparent caching proxy.

        • "VPN is already becoming standard for pirates and porn lovers."

          Opera has the VPN built-in, so use that to stream.

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      The watermarking will just be removed and life will go on.

      Hint: "real time". Can you identify the watermark without comparing your stream to someone else's stream? Can you do that while streaming your copy to a pirate repeater? Can you do that before sending out the first unique marker that identifies your stream?

      I mean, if you can, you are indeed l33t. If not, the banhammer, she swings for you.

      • Initially comparison of streams is necessary. After the watermark technique is identified it can be filtered out of a single stream in real time. A few streams can be sent to a repeater for comparison to prevent leaks by stopping when the watermark is changed. Like I said, the watermarking raises the bar but will be defeated and life will go on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22, 2016 @06:21AM (#53129065)

    So every single stream is going to have a unique watermark embedded in the audio or visual data? The original will be decompressed, the mark added, then recompressed and streamed to each specific subscriber to allow identification? Tens or hundreds of thousands, simultaneously?

    I don't buy it.

    And even if it did, will it survive recompression? Or averaging with a few other subscribers streams then recompression?

    It's either some metadata tag that won't survive stripping, meant to catch out naive stream cloning, or they're talking shit.

    • The original will be decompressed, the mark added, then recompressed and streamed to each specific subscriber to allow identification?

      Not necessarily. You can probably do pixel manipulation within the DCT space of a B frame immediately preceding an I frame, and the viewer probably wouldn't notice. In fact there's a lot of material about the maths of working in the compressed domain, the IEEE even wrote up a whitepaper describing how to resize images without needing to decompress/recompress 12 years ago.

      The tricky part would be detecting while it's being relayed through a pirate stream. If it's a simple remux, then I imagine it wouldn't be

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is for Pirate movies. Cisco has issue with pirate movies. I guess they really hated Cutthroat Island with Mathew Modine and Geena Davs. It's a bit of an over reaction, but if I could, I'd do the same for the Star Wars prequels.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh nerds, so naive.

      Have you ever watched a cable channel and seen that semi-transparent watermark? You can't erase the watermark without knowing what the original watermark was, and the alternative is cropping the watermark out.

      What is being suggested by Cisco here is to do the same thing that would survive "high quality" piracy, you'd probably have something resembling a QR code uniformly sized against the macroblocks in the original broadcast that can be decoded. It survives high quality piracy rips and s

    • "So every single stream is going to have a unique watermark embedded in the audio or visual data? The original will be decompressed, the mark added, then recompressed and streamed to each specific subscriber to allow identification? Tens or hundreds of thousands, simultaneously?"

      No. The watermarking technology is put in the decoder - the set top box, the Widevine DRM module (in browsers), in iTunes. The stream is watermarked so capturing it and re-encoding it will have the watermark present.

  • ...personally I dont pirate movies or games myself, Im perfectly happy with paying for indie games and watching netflix for a few dimes a month, that aside...Cisco must seriously want to die. Not did they get accused of that built in backdoor sometime back in history, but now they want to do this as well? Jeeze Cisco, you guys produce some serious quality hardware but youre literally begging the world to never ever endorse your products ever.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They'll lobby the undemocratic parts of government to make it compulsory (e.g. EU Commission, all 5 eyes governments). Which in turn will mean your ISP is required to supply such a modem to you, for which you'll pay the bill.

      Did you buy a PS3 or PS4?? That contains the exact same mechanism. It's called Cinavi, and its a watermark embedded in the audio track of movies. If PS3 or PS4 detects that, it will refuse to play the rip of your DVD.

  • Surely... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @06:48AM (#53129105) Journal

    ...this will only be effective if the software is installed on the backbone/tier 1 switches and routers. I can't see operators at that level willingly paying for this.

    Maybe the goal is to have the content producers pay for extra boxes, and have them installed by court order...

    • Re:Surely... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @08:16AM (#53129275)

      Wasn't there a minor issue with cable providers also becoming liable for the content that passes through their cables if they monitor?

      • ...if the box is owned by the content providers and just co-located at the ISP, then the ISP isn't actually doing the monitoring...

        That said, by providing the box with a copy of *all* the ISPs traffic, they could fall foul of whatever wiretapping laws are in place - but a few "campaign contributions" could sidestep any litigation.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      How many big pipes exit most smaller nations? One old national telco now in private hands? A few international pipes? All the smaller providers are on some nation network or feed into a few other big providers.
      Smaller providers might have their own real networks but they all end up at some national hub for cheap peering and low cost international connections.
  • One small problem... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Its not legal. That's a wiretap and blocking a service without a DMCA notice is criminal.

    Don't see many installing that one...

    • If Spike TV finds a website streaming the Garcia vs Vargas fight tonight and they can identify which of their broadcasts is being streamed.... they have every right to turn that particular broadcast off.

      That's all this is about. It isn't shutting down someone's site. It isn't spying on someone's data stream. It's not a wiretap.

      It's a way to put different identifiers on the service you're providing to different customers. Once you have that, you can identify which of your customers is abusing your service an

    • "That's a wiretap"

      No, it's not. It's deep packet inspection for purpose of network management.

      "blocking a service without a DMCA notice is criminal."

      No, it's not. First, the world is bigger than the US, and second, we do it as sysadmins all the time. We blacklist spammers, and people involved DDoS attacks.

      None of this matters, however, to a system like this, which involves watermarking the content, and blocking it on the upstream side. The provider watermarks all the streams of their videos, and when it

      • >No, it's not. It's deep packet inspection for purpose of network management.

        Except TFA is not at all about network management (which I'm ok with), but rather copyright enforcement. My ISP has no business tracking and watching the videos I view online.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now tell me how that's going to work with Fair Use Exceptions. Oops, someone legally included up to 30 seconds of content-protected A/V as part of a review - their review will not be viewable through any participating Cisco devices.
  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @07:49AM (#53129201)

    Honestly, after all the NSA backdoors and intercepting packages to install spy devices, who is installing new Cisco equipment?

  • There's huge untapped amounts of money in not enabling communication.

  • Good luck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @08:02AM (#53129237)

    I guess they'll just do deep packet inspection on all traffic to discover that it is uhm, encrypted.

    Next step is to further de-prioritize encrypted traffic so to "discourage" this behaviour. Or just make it easy to read transmission content.

    This is useful because it will encourage us to encrypt all our traffic. Then there will be little alternative but to give a fair share of bandwidth.

    Thank you Cisco and good luck.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This sounds more like what they already do with sport streams. If your watching everynow and again a 13 odd digit number will appear in the top right which is unique to you. All there doing is making it invisible (easy to do just by replacing last x pixies ) as they have found out people just put their own logo over where the number will appear.

      Encryption won't help as you still have to download the stream to see it and at that point they can decode then ID of subscriber as this will be embedded as sourc

      • Okay. Then to get rid of the watermark, we capture two different streams, and average the pixel and sound wave values.
        The video and audio are the same, but the watermark will be filled with noise and be entirely unreadable. (Unless they have a way of getting around having two streams averaged together.)
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @08:12AM (#53129261) Journal
    Since the internet has been running so smoothly lately, with absolutely no items of growing concern, I can understand why Cisco would be taking the chance to focus on frivolous, user-hostile, bullshit for a while, since all the real problems have clearly been solved...
  • A little encryption on the pirate streams and the watermark is illegible.

  • I would argue that Cisco (and others) should make a greater investment in developing methods to prevent distributed denial attacks [] and other forms of network attacks. In many countries the Internet is no longer a nice to have (like broadcast television) but rather a critical infrastructure (like the power grid).
  • by CanEHdian ( 1098955 ) on Saturday October 22, 2016 @09:32AM (#53129441)

    I remember ages ago, drivers for computer scanners suddenly had MANDATORY checks for those patterns you see on banknotes and refuse to scan if it was a positive. I had a CanoScan 6000 at the time and remember seeing a patched version of the then-latest driver that disabled the check. Now I don't see any patched drivers anymore, by the way. Then there were the laserprinters that printed "secret" identification-dots, providing forensic information leading back to the specific printer that was used to print it. Then there are the MANDATORY (as per the LA) checks for the Cinavia audiomark in BD players, including the PlayStation 3.

    It's just a matter of millions of dollars in 'campaign donations', time, 'VIP -package with meet&greet invitations to events', etc. before similar checks pop up everywhere where you and I, right now, don't expect them.

    • Don't forget macrovision. One of the lesser-known provisions of the DMCA says that all video recorders in the US need to either include the design defect that allowed macrovision to jam their recording ability, or circuitry to detect the macrovision signal and disable recording anyway.

      This was a real bother for me trying to digitise old family videos. No macrovision on them, but the tapes were old and degraded to the point that my video capture card would often false-positive - which would result in the car

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here's an easier/cheaper solution, JUST OFFER YOUR PRODUCTS AT A REASONABLE PRICE AND ON ANY PLATFORM THAT WILL HOST THEM. This garbage about certain programs only on Hulu, others on Netflix, still others on [name platform] and many times at exorbitant costs (digitally rent a movie for $4 or buy the DVD $6, heck in some cases you can get the DVD for cheaper than online) push people towards piracy. Stop throwing roadblocks in front of people trying to buy your product and don't try to extort them for every

  • The device will check for watermarks, and block everything that has it by default. The software running on this box will be updated directly from RIAA with no user interaction required, thereby giving them a veto over what you can watch (with no DMCA notice or counter notice possible). And they will bribe the government to make these legally required for all ISP's, world wide. The Copyright Cartel doesn't want a legal process, they want an on/off switch.
    • What you just described is the old CPSA system - Content Protection System Architecture. It was envisioned by content creators as an interlocking set of DRM technologies that would protect content end to end - it included good old CSS, along with HDCP, CPRM/CPPM, and a bunch of others. The plan was simple: In order to play encrypted media, a manufacturer would need to license the encryption system used. The license would prohibit outputting of any protected content in any form other than degraded (ie, no HD

  • I'm sorry, but if you're going to pirate a given TV show or movie, why wouldn't you just, I dunno, download an offline copy that can be viewed whenever you feel like it? And how is this new technology going to work with re-encoded video and sound channels while ensuring there are no false positives?

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      most people don't want to download everything they watch; they want to watch it once and that's it. same reason most people don't buy loads of dvds all the time. how many times are you going to watch walking dead season 3 episode 4? sure, you might want an offline copy of this or that movie, breaking bad etc. but most of the time a stream saves you the hassle of storing it, getting it via a torrent (which makes you an uploader) etc.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        So if you don't want to store it after watching, maybe ... delete it?

        I'm sorry, I just don't get why you would sacrifice one of the pros of pirating a movie (watching whenever you want, no matter what) for the pro of not having to hit the DEL and Enter keys once you're done watching it.

  • Sounds like something that could be exploited for a denial of service attack.

    Most piracy is using torrents and encrypted. Sounds more like Cisco is engaged in marketing Puffery with something that will likely later come to be abused by the government or hackers by forcing backbone providers to buy higher tier Cisco routers.

    Watermarking in itself is good for studding distribution patterns but little else.

    • Most piracy is torrented, but there is one area where streams rule: Sports.

      Sports fans really want to watch sports live. Which means streaming. And there's a lot of money in sports broadcasting - channels pay for exclusive broadcast rights, they want to make sure that is what they get.

  • I guess if I watch an NFL game outside of my market, the terrorists win. DHS seized one of the places I used to catch my team's games, because...terrorism? So I guess this means live streaming someone else's feed of free television is bad?
  • That with all the other problems the US is having (massive debt, illegal aliens, etc) that this seems to be the issue everyone is focused on.

  • I don't see anything wrong with piracy. I feel the Internet should be a giant library of information not controlled by IP hoarders. New stuff can be made on passion, crowdfunded, or other alternative money making approaches. I even wrote a book about God which God approved of by answering a prayer via instant message Read about a miracle [] And the first article in the book says piracy is okay!

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!