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

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Online video content is everywhere, and it can be accessed by anyone who has an internet connection. 

In 2021, the global video streaming market size is around USD 7.5 billion and is estimated to reach 17.5 billion by 2026. This is why brands and content creators are directing a lot of their resources into video creation and marketing. 

With this catapulted growth of the industry, another sector is rising along the sidelines –  video piracy.

Video piracy refers to the process of distributing illegal copies of copyrighted video over the internet and selling them for free or at a minimal price. The ease of access to technology has increased the ubiquity of piracy.

The rise of video content streaming has increased the usage of piracy websites as well. In 2020, there were around 130 billion visits to piracy websites, out of which almost 57% of visits were to streaming sites.

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 trying 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.

If you own video business, there are chances that your videos are being pirated, causing you to lose revenue.

How can this damage be controlled or mitigated? One answer is video watermarking.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about video piracy and how you can prevent it using video watermarks.

Table of Contents:

1. Why does online video piracy happen?

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

3. What are the common methods of video privacy?

4. What is video watermarking

4. How does watermarking shield your videos from piracy?  

5. How is video watermarking done?

6. Wrap Up

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.

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.


Pirated Video Content Is Free

No matter how low your subscription fee is, it can never compete with anything free

Besides, it’s next to impossible for streaming businesses to provide quality content for free. How will they make enough money to sustain their business otherwise?

Piracy Sites Bring All Shows Under One Roof

There are several streaming platforms available these days, with each of them screening different shows and films. Now to watch their favorite shows or movies, 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.

Piracy Sites Remove Regional Barriers If Any

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.

Piracy Platform Has No Expiry 

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 pirates take advantage by providing video content for free, and thus, they can easily attract viewership. One simply needs an internet connection and a device to access the content.

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

Over the last decade, we all have seen enormous growth in the OTT industry. This growth has resulted in a simultaneous decline in the cable and satellite television industry. Users are not necessarily found sitting in front of a TV box to watch the next episode of their favorite shows.

With OTT TV taking over the online content landscape, piracy started seeing a noticeable decline. But it didn’t last long. 

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.

So, how will it impact your VOD Service?

A vicious cycle of revenue loss and decreased production funding: piracy impacts the revenue potential of your VOD business. This income loss will influence production funding, which, in turn, will have an impact on revenue.

The digital content space is losing millions of dollars in 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.

3. What Are the Common Methods of Video Piracy?

Credential Sharing and Video Downloading are the two most prevalent methods of video piracy. 

Credential Sharing

Credential sharing is a common issue every SVOD providers face, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more. 

We might have all shared our Netflix password at least once with a family member or friend instead of paying for the extra user. There are online forums where you can temporarily share your password to swap subscriptions.

Credential Theft

Cybercriminals collect user information such as passwords and bank credentials through phishing campaigns and Trojan malware, which they may sell on the Dark Web. 

In this scam, a user gets tricked into clicking on a malicious link sent via emails or embedded on websites. 

Once they click on the link, the user gets redirected to a bogus login page of the service. 

The spyware collects account information as soon as the user clicks on the link. 

Also, the hackers behind the scheme sell the stolen passwords on the Dark web for as little as possible.

Video Downloading

There are many 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 captured content is then re-encoded and distributed for free online.

Other widely used methods include using a VPN to access information that is not available in a country or tampering with the Android software.

The video business is constantly developing better shields, while pirates are continuously attempting to penetrate them. Although various approaches are used, none are foolproof. 

Video watermarking is one of the defenses that has been constantly evolving during the process. 

4. 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.

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.

5. 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. 

Any GoT fans in the house? 

Well, HBO used digital watermarking successfully by protecting the leakage of the Game of Thrones latest episodes.

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

Now you know why video watermarking is important. 

Here is a list of some more 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.

6. How is Video Watermarking done?

Now the big question that remains is how you can put a watermark on your video content. 

Well, watermarking is generally done while the video is encoded. 

You will find several tools and software that enable you to embed a watermark into your video. 

The watermark can be in the form of text or images. FFMPEG is a popular tool that lets you add watermarks easily.

Some other popular video watermarking software includes Kapwing, Snagit, Windows Live Movie Maker, Animoto, and more.

You can also avail the service of Ventuno for adding watermarks to your videos while they are being encoded. It is a part of the SaaS OTT product – used by content owners to launch, manage, and monetize their OTT service.

A watermark can be in both text and image formats. You can add it on any side of the video – top left, bottom right, the 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.

To add a text watermark on your video content:

  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.

To add an image watermark on your video content:

  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

Wasn’t this simple? 

Wrap Up

Video piracy has cost billions of dollars in revenue loss to the global streaming industry. 

Big video production houses 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 providing unsolicited access to viewers for watching the games. The criminals had earned an estimated UK £5 million from illicit coverage in the games

With the help of digital watermarking, a successful probe led to 17 years of jail time for the criminals.

Digital watermarking also adds a subtle branding in addition to the protective layer to your video content to prohibit unsolicited use and distribution of the content. 

Watermarking lets you establish and protect your video’s ownership. Have you been a victim of video piracy? 

What are your thoughts on this article? reach out to us at if you would like to discuss! 

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Madhuri Bajaj

Madhuri Bajaj