Video watermarking standards should meet Cartesian robustness guidelines for effective anti-piracy measures

Watermarking solutions have become the industry standard to protect premium content from infringement and piracy attacks. It helps content owners and distributors in copyright identification and protection and detection of the source of video leakage. The key features of an efficient watermark are imperceptibility, data payload, security, and robustness.

Robustness of a video watermarking solution determines how resilient it is to piracy attacks and signal processing operations. After a watermark has been embedded into a content file, it may unavoidably be subjected to distortions during encoding, decoding, or distribution across the internet. These distortions might be needed for necessary modifications to the watermark or for compressing it before transmission.

While DRM protected content can secure video assets during transmission, watermarking helps to deter piracy from the user’s device. An efficient video watermarking solution should be able to withstand these distortions as well as malicious attacks by pirates. The Cartesian watermark security testing system has been designed to assess the strength of the watermarking technology. It was developed after consultations with watermark solution vendors, MovieLabs, Hollywood studios, and the Motion Picture Association of America, and is trusted by the media and entertainment industry for testing content security solutions.

Under the Cartesian evaluation process, the degree of robustness of the watermarking solution is assessed by replicating the tampering techniques used by pirates to illegally access and redistribute digital content. The level of robustness is assessed based on the ability of the watermark to withstand manipulations applied to the video signal.

Downscaling, collusion, transcoding, change of frame rate, compression, aspect ratio alteration, geometrical transformations, reverse engineering, capturing techniques, and cropping are some of the common techniques used in piracy attacks to tamper with or completely remove the watermark. The Cartesian process creates a series of simulations to attack the watermark at varying degrees using one or more of these methods in order to ascertain the point at which the watermark will be rendered irrecoverable. The higher the intensity of the attack or the more the types of attacks the solution can withstand determines the robustness of the solution.

Much of the robustness relies on the secrecy of the algorithm, unpredictability, spatial distribution of the watermark, difficulty in reverse engineering and blindness.  While watermarking is not an ubiquitous solution, content owners can rely on the Cartesian testing methods to employ a robust solution.