Video Watermarking: What is it and how it helps reduce piracy

video watermarking

Nowadays, online video content is everywhere and can be accessed by anyone who has an internet connection. In 2019, the global video streaming market size was around USD 43 million. And it is only growing further. 

Brands and content creators are directing a lot of their resources into video creation and marketing. With this catapulted growth of the industry, there is another industry that is growing along the sidelines. That of video piracy

The rise of video content streaming has increased the usage of piracy websites as well. In 2018, around 200 million viewers are seen to have visited unlawful pirated sites, out of which almost 10% of the viewership was from the US and UK. Nearly half of such visitors used these sites to watch television shows. 

The video piracy of digital content is estimated to cost the US films and TV industry about USD 29 billion every year. A rough estimate of 2.5 million jobs has been lost because of it. And the damages are only said to be growing as the piracy industry is also upping its game to catch up with platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.

The extent of the damage is not limited to the content creators alone. Businesses including production, marketing, distribution, IT, etc. are all affected because of their involvement directly or indirectly with this industry.

How can this damage be controlled or mitigated? One answer is video watermarking. We will answer the following questions regarding video piracy and video watermarking:

  • Why does online video piracy happen?
  • Why is video piracy a threat to your video business?
  • What is video watermarking?
  • How does watermarking shield your videos from piracy?  
  • How is video watermarking done?

1. Why does online video piracy happen?

We have already discussed the extent of damages that piracy is causing to the online content industry. Now let’s understand why piracy happens in the first place. 

Online streaming content has become widespread and economical for most users today. Due to the large scale distribution and viewership, businesses are able to provide high-quality content to viewers at minimal fees. However, piracy still occurs and is only growing. 

Why? 

  • Because pirated content is free! However low the subscription fee may be, it can never compete with anything free. And streaming platforms will never be able to provide quality content for free. It just won’t make sense.

  • There is a variety of streaming platforms available these days with each of them screening different shows and films. Therefore, to watch his/her favorite shows or films, a user may end up having too many subscriptions. Additionally, the subscriptions need to be renewed every month, quarter, or year. This can be frustrating for the users at times. With a little bit of digging, pirated content is available for free, any time and anywhere.

  • There could be regional limitations for the user. Sometimes, a video is not made available in certain regions. Users who would like to watch such videos may resort to pirated content, that is available everywhere.

  • Subscriptions are payments for temporary services that come with an expiry date. Users don’t really get to own anything for the money they pay. Paying multiple amounts in subscriptions, every month or quarter may cause an economical pinch to the users.

online piracy video watermarking

                                                                                       source

Online pirates take advantage of all this and are thriving because of the viewership they are able to attract. Since this online content is available for anyone who has an internet connection and a device, pirates can access them too. 

There is readily available software that can record the video content while it is playing. These recordings are saved separately in storage selected by the pirate. The saved content is then re-encoded and distributed for free online. 

There will be a slight dip in the video quality due to the recording and re-encoding of the video. However, viewers are able to watch the content of their choice without any disturbances. 

2. Why is video piracy a threat to your video business?

Over the last decade, there has been an enormous growth in the OTT industry. This growth has started causing a simultaneous decline in cable and satellite television. Users are not necessarily in front of a television box to watch the next episode of Stranger Things or Big Bang Theory.

With OTT TV taking over the online content landscape, piracy started seeing a noticeable decline. Gradually, pirates started adopting newer techniques to continue their piracy activities even with online streamed content.

Kodi boxes have grown to become immensely popular for pirated streaming content, with their search volumes showing a growth of almost 140-150% year over year. Kodi boxes are set-top boxes or devices that allow viewers to stream any online content for free.

It is pretty clear that video piracy is a threat that is never going away, as pirates are constantly improving their methods and techniques too. The digital content space is losing millions of dollars as revenue every year because a significant portion of the population is watching online streamed content for free.

By 2022, video piracy is estimated to cost the TV and film industry almost USD 52 billion in losses

online revenue vs piracy losses

                                                       source

3. What is Video Watermarking?

Video watermarking is a technique of imprinting an image or text on any video content to identify the actual owner of that content. It is also known as digital tattooing and protects the content owners from illegal distribution of their content. 

video watermark simply south
Sample video with a watermark (highlighted inside the red box)

Watermarking provides a protective shield to any video content right from the creation stage to its distribution towards the end consumer. This process helps strengthen a content creator’s ownership and command over their digital rights over these digital assets. 

4. How does watermarking shield your videos from piracy?

HBO is an example of a popular online content creator that uses watermarking to protect its content from piracy. HBO used digital watermarking successfully by protecting the leakage of the Games of Thrones’ latest episodes.

They were able to effectively track and pin down the piracy sites that would illegally steal and release episodes of this popular show.

Here’s the list of benefits you can achieve from watermarking your video content:

  1. Watermarking is a unique identifier on your content, and cannot be erased no matter where the content is circulated or distributed.
  2. It helps you control the broadcast of your content and limit access to only subscribed audiences. 
  3. It helps you keep a check on any modifications made to the content and thus preserves the authenticity of the content. 

5. How is Video Watermarking done?

Watermarking is generally done while the video is encoded. There are several tools and software available that allow you to embed a watermark into your video. The watermark can be in the form of text or images. Some popular software include Kapwing, Snagit, Windows Live Movie Maker, Animoto, etc. to name a few.

This service is also offered by Ventuno, where we add the watermarks to your videos while they are being encoded. This is a part of our SaaS OTT product that is used by content owners to launch, manage, and monetize their OTT service. 

A watermark can be in both text and image formats and they can be added on any side of the video – top left, bottom right, center of the video, etc. 

These are the steps involved in adding watermarks to your video with Ventuno:

  1. Log into Ventuno and access your dashboard.
  2. From the left menu, select Manage Content > Video watermark > Create watermark.
  3. In the next screen, select Watermark Type and select whether you want to add a text or an image watermark.

ventuno create watermark

To add a text watermark:

  1. Enter the Name of the watermark and Select Watermark Type as Text.
  2. Enter the ‘Watermark text’.
  3. Choose Alignment of the watermark from the dropdown.
  4. Add the Font Size, Font Color, and Font Family of the watermark.
  5. Choose the Opacity of the watermark from 1 to 10. A higher number means that the watermark is more visible. 
  6. Submit to create your watermark.

ventuno add watermark

To add an image watermark:

  1. Enter Name of the watermark and Select Watermark Type as Image.
  2. Select Choose File and import the watermark image. We support PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats.
  3. Choose Alignment of the watermark from the dropdown.
  4. Add the Font Size, Font Color, and Font Family of the watermark
  5. Choose the Opacity of the watermark from 1 to 10. A higher number means that the watermark is more visible. 
  6. Submit to create your watermark

Conclusion

Video piracy is a very real risk that is costing billions of dollars in revenue losses to the global streaming industry. Big businesses everywhere are getting together to run anti-piracy campaigns in their fight against these fraudulent activities.

In 2016, Premier League won a lawsuit against illegal streamers who were providing unsolicited access to viewers for watching the games. The criminals had earned an estimated UK £5 million from illegal coverage of the games. With the help of digital watermarking, a successful probe led to a total of 17 years of jail time for the criminals. 

Digital watermarking adds a protective layer to your video content to prohibit unsolicited use and distribution of the content. If you’re looking to secure your digital video assets with this additional layer of security too, get in touch with us here

 

Madhuri

Madhuri