Digimarc: The Barcode of Everything

Antipiracy: It’s All About the Human Touch

This is the first article in a four-part series examining the threat of piracy today and how Digimarc's Piracy Intelligence service helps publishers and authors fight back. 

More than a decade ago, it was common for antipiracy providers to promote “fully automated” services as being a key feature of an effective antipiracy service, but then a series of high-profile blunders due to automation, including a global technology company sending thousands of takedown notices to itself, soured this trend. Publishers and rights holders began to appreciate the value of an antipiracy solution with human touch points. Just as it’s people who commit e-book piracy, its antipiracy personnel who can best verify what is and isn’t piracy.

Having people review piracy links and perform targeted searches assures that takedown notices are as accurate as possible. Human verifiers can also more quickly and adaptively penetrate new or “fringe” sites in a way that automated services cannot.

Digimarc has a team of piracy analyst personnel—lead by a small group of team leaders—who perform this work, as well as working with criteria establish by our customers. The determinations made by piracy analysts on our platform also have the effect of training our Deep Learning/Neural Network machine learning system, ultimately increasing our search-automation accuracy and throughput.

Global Challenge, Global Team

Digimarc’s piracy analyst team leaders are stationed around the world, overseeing performance of our piracy analyst account teams, who do the specialized work of piracy link verification. They are a highly-trained team focused exclusively within the publishing piracy ecosystem, and it’s this first-hand experience that makes them so effective.

The team leaders shared some of what they’re seeing “out in the field” right now.

“I've found in the last year that a lot of piracy webpages are very similar, but with different addresses,” said team leader Aida Jimenez Stahuljak. “They have the same design and font type—they slightly change colors—but they have different names and URLs (some change the countries, like .cl or .es), and once I find them, it’s easier to sweep them and find links.”

Digimarc’s team leaders have developed a number methodologies to help them more efficiently identify culprits. “Historical website performance, mixed with experience, usually helps identify new or old threads and reposts. That is particularly valid in the case of feeder websites that keep re-posting links,” said team leader Svetlana Romanow. “With the help from our automatic search tool, we now come across new websites more often.”

Svetlana also emphasized the connection between book piracy and phishing scams. While some consumers may actively seek out and engage with purpose-built pirate sites, a significant number of innocent consumers are also impacted by the presence of phishing scams purporting to offer books at low costs. These consumers mistakenly believe the sites are legitimate and provide their personal information to scammers.

Attack of the Streaming Pirates

Team leader Allen Razon echoed concerns about phishing scams, while also seeing new challenges with streaming, which is a newer phenomenon within the publishing piracy ecosystem. Historically, streaming and piracy has largely affected music and movie content, but the rapid rise of audiobooks and dynamic media content—published alongside e-books—has brought the problem to the forefront for publishers.

“I’m now seeing a lot of pirate streaming sites,” Allen said. “This might be attributed in part to the vast improvement in internet bandwidth speeds across most of the world. This improved speed has made it easy for people to consume audio and video content in real-time via streaming services.”

Allen also expects digital piracy to increase in the months ahead, as people continue to stay home due to COVID-19. The reality of “sheltering” is potentially a Catch 22 for publishers; sales of digital content will likely increase, but so will the likelihood of piracy.

Experts in Combating Piracy

The Digimarc team leaders are part of an expert team of antipiracy specialists that offer a piracy intelligence service trusted by publishers such as Hachette Livre and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Over three million publications are globally protected by Digimarc’s service.  Get a free demo  of our piracy intelligence service.

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