Earlier this year, the geo-piracy website UKTV Everywhere shut down. This site enabled subscribers to view UK television content from anywhere, circumventing the territorial restrictions that UK content producers and rightsholders implement to safeguard the revenue they receive from other broadcasters around the world that they license their content to on a geographically exclusive basis.
While this is good news for rightsholders and content producers, it doesn’t mean geo-piracy is gone. In fact, as soon as it shut down, other websites were already promoting alternatives that could be used to access the same content, in the same way. However, they warn that “there’s no guarantee that any of the other services doing this won’t face the same fate.”
People are increasingly using technologies such as VPNs and DNS Proxies to spoof their IP address (and hence, their location) in order to access territorially restricted content and are mostly ambivalent to the fact that piracy is illegal.
But this ambivalence has serious consequences. In 2019, between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs were lost in the United States alone as a direct result of piracy. That’s not to mention the millions or even billions of dollars in lost revenue for rightsholders and content creators.
The Demand for Content Drives Geo-Piracy
As long as content exists, people will try to access it illegally. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done. In fact, regulators, rightsholders and broadcasters are all increasingly realizing that piracy poses a serious threat to the entire streaming media industry.
Detecting and stopping geo-piracy is something that can be implemented easily and effectively. “Rights owners are insisting on minimum standards of content protection across the technical workflow,” says Ian Munford, director industry strategy, marketing and solutions at Akamai. And one important solution that works across the technical workflow is preventing people from using VPNs and DNS Proxies to access geographically restricted content.
Stay Ahead of Geo-Pirates With Advanced VPN Detection
Implemented properly, and ideally at the CDN level, advanced VPN detection solutions can easily identify users attempting to circumvent territorial restrictions to access content. One reason that integration at the CDN level is preferred is because, in many cases, this protection can simply be “turned on” by the CDN provider with no other technical resources required by the OTT broadcaster. In fact, rightsholders are now requesting their OTT broadcasters to use a CDN for this exact reason.
Another reason for a CDN integrated solution is to combat a new threat which is the growing use of “hijacked” residential IPs generated from “free” VPN services. When a user signs up for one of these “free” services, they are unwittingly enabling the VPN provider to hijacks their residential IP address and sell it to the highest bidder – usually other VPN providers who then sell them on as a premium option for “undetectable” location spoofing.
However, this method has an “achilles heel” in that implementing VPN protection at the CDN level can be exploited in order to detect and stop this more advanced form of geo-piracy. You can read more in our new white paper: Hijacked Residential IPs – A New Threat to Studios, OTTs and Rightsholders.
GeoGuard’s industry leading, Hollywood Studio-approved VPN/DNS Proxy detection solutions are fully integrated at the CDN level with Akamai, AWS CloudFront and others to provide fast and easy access to our award-winning technology, that has been independently tested and rated as 97.5% effective by Kingsmead Security.
As geo-piracy continues to grow, it’s essential that rightsholders and OTT broadcasters do everything they can to protect their content from piracy, not only to preserve its value, but to remain viable businesses into the future.