With the growth of Prime Video and productions like 'The Boys', 'American Gods' and, more recently, 'Gangs of London' making headlines, the Amazon is setting up all fronts to face the piracy services.
A new patent registered by the company may turn the battle in its favor, by allowing identifiable information to be embedded in illegal recordings and streams of its products and, consequently, taking the company to the source of the irregular transmission.
The documentation calls the technology “Embedding Identifiers in Customizable Manifest Data”. The text is extremely technical, since such technology can be used for a number of purposes, but it is in protecting private content that the thing becomes more interesting, as shown in the graphic below:
Graph shows practical operation of Amazon's new anti-piracy patent. Image: Amazon / Disclosure
In kids: an Amazon Prime Video subscriber makes an illegal recording of the 'The Tick' series. This subscriber has a unique identification (ID: 1011) which, when it begins to legally reproduce, the series has attributed to this action a “customized manifest data” (126). This information is read by an Amazon FireTV (124), which requests the video data and decodes fragments of it directly from the server (122). So far, everything is normal.
When the subscriber makes a recording, say, with a camera pointed at the TV, this includes a code or mark that points to the data manifest in the paragraph above. “Without '102' realizing, however, an information pattern 110 is embedded in at least some parts of the content fragments (eg: 112-118), identified by the manifest data 126 and recoverable as a version (132) that can identify user102 as the source of the recorded episode, ”says Amazon.
In a simpler way, the company is creating a kind of “watermark”, which is, at the same time, visible (for it) and invisible (for the “pirate”). This identification overlaps even on home recordings, allowing Amazon not to prevent streaming pirate, but find your source and, from there, take appropriate action.
“It is preferable that, in some implementations, this representative overlap of version information [of the data] is imperceptible to the human eye,” explains Amazon. "Not only does this make it difficult for content hijackers to detect, alter, remove or defeat it in any way, it also ensures the quality of video content by being marked with a version identifier that is not significantly degraded."
'The Boys', one of the most popular series on Amazon Prime Video, can gain a very consistent anti-piracy measure. Image: Amazon / Disclosure
The watermark we mentioned would not be on the screen, or on the video file, necessarily, but on his data collection on Amazon's server. In this way, its applicability becomes more individualized. According to Amazon, this should protect your own content, but it can also be licensed or offered to other companies in the industry, like Netflix, Disney + and the like.
Furthermore, the measure also applies to live performances: the NFL, a world football league famous for the Superbowl, is one of the biggest pirates of its events. Under the laws of some U.S. states, not even sports bars can display their games normally, and are required to purchase specific pay per view packages. In Brazil, Premiere (soccer) and MMA fights (Canal Combate, from Globosat) also suffer from this.
In this case, in addition to the identifiers mentioned above, pirated displays may also end up marking other details, such as the location of the irregular user: “It is important to note that the term 'custom manifest data' is not limited to the level of specificity corresponding to the individuals described in the anti-piracy context. For example, in an NFL broadcast scenario, the customizable manifest data can be implemented within a specific geography, ”says an excerpt from the patent.
For now, this patent is not much more than that: a license. Typically, records of this type take years to become specific products - and in some cases, they never do. However, with the pandemic forcing us to stay more and more at home and the public more dependent on streaming and pay-per-view events, it would be no surprise if Amazon made the delivery of this technology a priority.
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