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Two solutions to content security complexity

Content security

The drive for content security has given rise to a plethora of technology solutions. This complexity is getting in the way of both content aggregators and consumers. Here are two solutions I found at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam to help tame the security mess.

As pay TV operators move to deliver subscribed content to all a consumer’s screens they often end up having to manage multiple copies of a single video. Part of the reason for this is the incompatibility between traditional conditional access systems and online digital rights management. Security vendors are now providing unified security solutions, but these often require an operator to abandon their existing solutions for a new one.

Access systems has another option. At IBC 2014, the company introduced a new product called Twine which acts as a single point of authorization for multiple CA and DRM solutions. The cloud based service can deliver to PCs, tablets and smartphones while maintaining the security of the pay TV network. Simply put, Twine manages the transition of media from one security format to another. This allows a content aggregator to use one CA-protected version of a video file to deliver to many other unmanaged devices.

Twine supports popular security systems including Verimatrix VCAS, Microsoft Playready and DTCP-IP. It can also deliver linear channels, DVR recorded shows and VOD content. All the content is tracked to maintain security. This tracking also provides new data on consumer media usage which can be used for ad and content targeting. So the system can not only reduce complexity of the security solutions, but also potentially drive additional revenue.

Over the last several years, the sale of movie discs has plummeted in North America and Europe. For example, in the US disc sales have fallen from $9B in 2011 to $7.8B in 2013. Digital sales of movies have not kept pace, growing just $0.6B over the same period. There are several reasons why consumers aren’t replacing physical sales with digital, but one culprit could be the loss of an important right. Consumers cannot lend, give or sell a digital movie they have purchased.

An industry consortium, called SeeQVault, may be able to fix that. Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and Sony is working to establish a secure way to distribute media and, in particular, movies using next generation secure memory (nSM.) This memory looks and behaves identically to existing SD and USB memory, with one important difference. The nSM can be used to store unique digital keys which can be read, but not copied or removed.

When a digital movie is purchased or recorded using SeeQVault, a unique key is generated and stored on an nSM that will allow it to be played back. The actually video file can be stored on a PC, tablet, smartphone and even the nSM, but to play it the nSM with the key must be inserted into a USB or SD slot on the device.

The initial usage model is to allow consumers in Japan to record over-the-air broadcasts, and play shows back on any device they would like to. So long as it has an SD or USB slot for the nSM with the key.  However, SeeQVault could enable new methods of distributing digital movies.

For example, a purchaser could plug an nSM USB key into a kiosk and buy a movie before a flight at an airport. SeeQVault could also restore the ability to lend or sell the movie, as a disc buyer can today. The purchaser just puts the movie on the same USB drive as the key. Once, he hands it to someone else, he no longer has access to it, exactly as with a disc.

Why it matters

While security solutions are important to prevent illegal media distribution, the fragmented security market is complicating media delivery and ownership.

This is increasing costs for aggregators, and potentially slowing the adoption of digital media by consumers.

Solutions are emerging to address these issues.

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