Stream free TV on-line? Sensible new know-how may assist the police chase you down

In the ongoing brawl between rights holders and those who stream and download movies, boxing sets, and sporting events without spending a dime, a broadcaster has turned to a new weapon. The publicly funded Italian broadcaster RAI – its equivalent to the BBC – is the first free-to-air broadcaster that empties so-called “forensic watermarks”.

The illicit copying and sharing of copyrighted content remains a multi-billion dollar industry. As such, it’s one that entertainment companies are desperate to resolve.

Forensic watermarks do not prevent users from streaming or downloading copyrighted material for free, but instead make it possible to quickly trace the source of the piracy. The technology developed by anti-piracy company NAGRA is already being used by the Academy Awards to keep an eye on their DVDs of Oscar-nominated films that are being sent out for evaluation. If any of these movies leak online, the watermark can be extracted from the stream or downloaded to determine which DVD was the source.

The US network AMC also uses the system known as NexGuard. However, RAI is the first public broadcaster to introduce the system.

“We have many success stories showing how NAGRA’s forensic watermarking NexGuard brought online pirates to justice,” said a spokesman for NAGRA. However, the company added that it cannot reveal specific details about these stories without the express consent of its customers.

The spokesman was able to add: “If a leak is discovered, the trail to search for the perpetrator is activated immediately. It enables the creation of information that can provide an overview of how and where pirates obtain content and what types of devices they are using. “

Not only do these watermarks help locate the pirates behind free streams and downloads, and share their data with law enforcement, but they can also act as a serious deterrent. Those thinking of sharing copyrighted material – like streams of paid shows like Sky Sports – would be less likely to broadcast online knowing that broadcasters can find out their location and the device they are using.

The news comes days after the European Union (EU) took a step closer to preventing the spread of illegal sports livestreams, as well as pirated films and boxing sets. All of this is thanks to the Digital Services Act (DSA), the draft of which is now being passed by the legislature in Brussels.

For those who don’t know, the DSA includes a number of anti-piracy measures, such as game. In the past, it took hours to process those takedowns … which resulted in live streams not disappearing from the internet until hours after the footballers left the field.

While the DSA is also introducing a removal deadline for other illegal content, this material must be removed within 72 hours, according to a contribution by TorrentFreak. Elsewhere, the proposed legislation includes a “trusted flagger” system whereby certain people are given preferential treatment if they attempt to remove content.

Coupled with the implementation of NexGuard’s forensic watermark, broadcasters could shutdown streams faster … and also quickly locate the source of the stream.

In other words, the net could be a little tighter to pirates.

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