IBC Q&A: Friend MTS’ Paul Hastings talks new content protection service

The battle to protect valuable media content continues to intensify, with an increasing number of vendors moving forward with innovative solutions that seek to remain one step ahead of an ever-expanding problem. Friend MTS is among them and has just introduced ASiD (Advanced Subscriber iDentification), a new content protection service, at IBC 2015.

ASiD revolves around a subscriber identification technology that enables both traditional broadcasters and OTT providers to identify and shut down unauthorised streams within minutes. It works by inserting near-undetectable identifying symbols onto the content for just a fraction of a second to identify any subscriber who is re-transmitting an unauthorised stream within five minutes of detection.

SVG Europe sat down with sales director – Europe, Paul Hastings, to discuss the outlook for ASiD and the wider issue of piracy…

What is the background to the development of ASiD?

Friend MTS has been around for about 10 years, and is UK-based. All of the technology we use is our own and we have about 70 people working in the business – 80% of whom are engineers. We have developed a range of services which rely on very sophisticated technology, but what differentiates us that we offer an end-to-end processs managed for broadcasters – from sourcing and identifying content that is pirated, right through to its termination.

With ASiD, what you have is the [means to establish] a fence around all the devices being used to distribute content to consumers. One of the other major advantages is that it can also be [deployed in legacy STBs]; in fact, we have someone testing it now in their labs who has it working in boxes that date back to 2008. We have had really good feedback and there is a general feeling that it represents a step-change in content protection technology.

Nonetheless, the piracy issue seems to be growing evermore complex with every passing week…

The reality is that the pirates are incredibly smart people and so what you have is a constant guerilla war between pirates and piracy streams. Pirate teams are constantly looking for weaknesses in DRM, title management and piracy software itself. They are always seeking ways to attack the content because without the content their business falls apart.

Our objective is to continue to develop and evolve the products that support pay TV and broadcast customers so they remain one step ahead at all times.

Would it be fair to say that the anti-piracy sector, too, is becoming more competitive?

It would. There is definitely the recognition of a business need there, and also [between broadcasters] of a requirement to offer reciprocal assistance between companies based in different countries.

With ASiD they now have the tool to identify how the card and the session number ties back to the user. They can set rules to either terminate right away or, as has happened with numerous cases in the past, continue to monitor in order to build a legal case – especially if someone is thought to be doing it on an industrial scale.

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