A software company has created a digital watermark with the potential to stop illegal IPTV services, no matter how distorted the content is.

The tool, developed by Berlin-based castLabs, uses single-frame forensic watermarking technology to protect digital content from pirate streams. The tech is unique as it protects every frame with an embedded watermark so precise that it can work with a screenshot or photograph.

Still image detection benefits the media and entertainment industry, especially during production and post-production. Studios can watermark early production imagery, previews, dailies, scripts, and final releases before distribution. The company said its solution extends beyond this industry into security, authentication, and intellectual property protection spaces.

“Media outlets combatting fake news and deep fakes can leverage our technology to watermark original content to enable identifying alterations made by malicious entities,” said a spokesperson for castLabs. 

While there are already watermark protections, they only cover a portion of the content. Pirates can get around detection by cropping the video or obstructing parts of the content to hide the watermark. Blurred or distorted images can also stream under the radar. 

However, castLab’s tool detects protected content in every frame, regardless of angles, distance, or distortion. 

“We’re incredibly proud to offer a game-changing technology that can extract watermark information with even just one phone camera photo of a video playing, even if the frame is distorted or partially blocked,” said Michael Stattman, co-founder of castLabs. “This breakthrough not only provides content owners and rights holders with an extra layer of security but also sets a new standard in content protection.

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down hard on pirated content with the help of internet providers. While the FCC has been revving up efforts to shutter illegal streams, companies are slamming IPTV services with massive lawsuits. What’s been accomplished is a drop in the ocean as more services spring up to fill the vacancy. 

This watermark could halt all illegal streams without combing through every service.

“For years, the content protection industry has grappled with the challenge of retrieving watermark information efficiently and effectively. With our single-frame forensic watermarking solution, we’ve shattered that barrier,” said Stattman.

The watermark alerts content owners their work is being misused and helps identify those with unauthorized access. It finds the source of pirated content by tracing the embedded earmark to find the source of the theft, be it video, photo, scripts, or documents. The tool can immediately take down the stream and create a digital trail to use as evidence in legal disputes.