Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pirates of the Olympics?

The Olympics had a dedicated session on the last day at the SMPTE conference.  This blogger reported on the 3D coverage in an earlier blog, but other interesting issues came up in the session.  

 The practical details of the NBCU ‘multiscreen’ services were given.  This is the services provided to mobiles, PCs, and tablets.  The production and distribution facilities were massive, and the results for users were creative and elegant.  For example, tablet users could watch the live feed on the left and more information (or ads) on the right.   How much has the environment changed since the last Games because of the massive use of Tablets today!   The NBCU service was a real ‘tour de force’.    But just for 17 days?

Even more novel information came from the presentation on the copy protection measures that NBCU took to protect their content from piracy during the games.  This information is difficult to find, so you should download the presentation if you want more. 

NBCU paid 1.18 billion dollars for the rights alone to show the Games in the US, so you could imagine they would pay more than scant attention to protecting the content.   In brief they derive a digital ‘fingerprint’ for each short segment of the content, which is a digital word derived from the segment, and  which would be is different from that for any other segment.

This is used to check whether anyone is illegally streaming their content, by deriving the fingerprint for any suspected content, and comparing them.  If they match, they know they have a pirate.  They ask the portal to take down the segment.  They have a team of ‘internet investigators’ who monitor the web 24/7.  

I suppose this will be the ‘shape of things to come’ for much content in the years ahead.  Do you agree?

David Wood

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