Cisco Says It Can Now Shut Down Pirated Live Video Feeds Mid-Stream

There are a growing number of pirated live video streams available online, giving viewers unauthorized access to pay-TV, pay-per-view events, and other feeds. Copyright holders say the usual method of sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice isn’t fast or effective enough, as hosts of these streams either ignore the demands or quickly move to a different host. Now, Cisco says it has developed a way for copyright holders to play a better game of Anti-Piracy Whac-A-Mole by giving them a way to cut off feeds mid-stream.

TorrentFreak reports on a new project recently announced by Cisco called Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) that aims to expedite the takedown process by skipping the whole “sending a DMCA notice” step.

SPP uses forensic digital “watermarks” to identify the original source of the stream; not just the site hosting it, but where the site is pulling the video from. To use a plumbing analogy, this is like shutting off the main water supply to a house full of leaking pipes.

Content providers would have to embed these watermarks — invisible without the right software — into each of their distributors’ feeds. Cisco and its partner Friend MTS would identify pirate feeds, automatically detect the watermark. Friend MTS also has technology to identify individual subscribers who are re-transmitting this content online. Once SPP has an idea of where the pirate is getting their feed from, access is cut off.

If SPP works as advertised, broadcasters like HBO and Showtime would be able to shut down pirates of important event feeds — like last year’s Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing match — in real-time, rather than scrambling to shut them down in advance of the event or going after them in court after the fact.

Cisco claims the process is fully automated. Because it cuts off the allegedly offending feed before it reaches the pirate, the company says that there’s no need for DMCA takedown notices that may go completely disregarded, or might not be attended to until after a live feed is finished.

“Gone are the days of sending a legal notice and waiting to see if anyone will answer,” writes the company. “SPP acts without the need to involve or gain cooperation from any third parties, enabling an unmatched level of cross-device retransmission prevention and allowing service providers to take back control of their channels, to maximize their revenue.”

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