Nobody makes video in a vacuum. Whether you’re creating business updates for the executive team, or a live sports broadcast for millions of fans, there’s always an audience waiting to get hold of your content. But the value of most videos depends on retaining control of how they’re produced and distributed. In some cases, your business might depend on it.
Since the days of widespread internet use, there are only too many cases of leaked and hacked videos sneaking out online. In one 2014 incident alone, five Sony Pictures movies were stolen and circulated. With video now a key strategy for marketing, and a growing medium for business updates, losing control of your video content could result in more than plot spoilers.
Privacy and GDPR
The videos you produce might also fall under the scope of new legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under this, filming members of the public can make you a ‘data controller’. This means you are responsible for setting out the purpose of creating and storing video. And that you have an obligation to maintain a clear audit trail of the work.
A video sharing platform needs to protect content both during development and production. And once and again during distribution and consumption. Let’s look at the risks for each stage, and how to stay on top of them.
Securing videos during production
Video production doesn’t end with raw footage. Key steps, such as adding audio or effects, usually means a growing number of source files, and an ongoing version history that needs to be maintained. The many skills involved require many stakeholders, all of whom need access to the appropriate files. And with stakeholders often spread across several companies and freelancers, even sharing content can be a nightmare.
Too often, production houses turn to third-party and even freemium video sharing platforms to share key production files. Before long, company secrets, plot twists, product launches and other sensitive material are distributed widely. Just consider how easily content can be shared via WeTransfer, DropBox, OneDrive and others, with no central organisation or control.
The first, essential step in retaining control of video content is to use a media asset management (MAM) platform during production. MAMs such as Imagen are designed to solve exactly the problem of tracking, storing and securely sharing content among stakeholders.
During production, version control ensures that contributors are working on the correct material. And strict user or organisational security controls mean that only the right people get access to rushes or previews.
Secure Video Distribution
A MAM provides a full audit trail of content, which is crucial for organisations likely to be affected by GDPR. It’s possible to track a piece of footage from ingest, through multiple revisions and into distribution, keeping a record of who’s worked on it and who has it. It’s a crucial tool for ensuring compliance when handling private data, and when responding to data access requests.
While losing control during production can result in videos or their content leaking ahead of time, it’s vital to protect videos as they’re distributed. Your distribution strategy will depend on the type of content you own. But the common link is ensuring that only the intended or permitted audiences have access to videos.
Third-party video sharing platforms like YouTube provide wide-open access for public-facing promos or other attention-building clips. But for any B2B media business, archive, or channel, the value of video content depends on your ability to control and monetise access. This can be either through licensing or a TV-on-demand model.
The importance of a MAM
The best way to maintain control of commercial or sensitive video assets is to use a specialist MAM or video sharing platform. Ideally, such a platform provides a secure cloud-portal through which verified users can view or download only the content they’re permitted to.
Access is controlled right down to the individual level. This is useful for protecting commercially sensitive business updates, for example. Or you can grant permissions to groups of users in a department or a business partner according to their needs.
Some MAMs, including Imagen, integrate secure distribution features, guaranteeing the secure digital delivery of video assets to partner organisations, or directly to consumers. Depending on your needs, it’s possible to distribute video by any means. For example, live-streaming via a public-facing, branded portal, through to private downloads from high-bandwidth regional hubs.
Securing videos, and securing access
There are other, more technical considerations when it comes to distributing video. A secure video sharing platform uses technologies such as HTTPS - an encrypted version of standard HTTP - to ensure videos are protected during download. Live and other on-demand video will generally be provided through HTTP live streaming (HLS), rather than as a progressive download. This makes it far harder to capture and pirate video via a single, readily shareable file.
A MAM or video distribution platform uses such technologies to help you keep control of content. But the piracy of streamed, purchased or legally obtained videos is, sadly, a fact of life. It can pay to take additional steps to secure videos.
This can be done by watermarking previews or final content to identify them with your brand. It’s common for TV channels to include a subtle logo, and for preview content - such as an awards submission - to be protected with messaging. The presence of a watermark may discourage further sharing, and will certainly lower the video’s value.
Finally, it pays for qualifying copyright owners to use anti-piracy tools such as YouTube’s Content ID to protect their content. An automated system, Content ID scans new videos uploaded to YouTube against a ‘fingerprint’ created from your original. This lets you take automated actions to remove or monetise unauthorised copies.
Protecting your video, and the secrets or spoilers it may contain, is a challenge in a video-hungry, digital age. However, a MAM not only helps secure your production process, it can do the same when it comes to distribution. It adds an important layer of accountability and version control into the bargain.
Imagen provides content owners with all these features, plus the peace of mind that their content is safe from ingest to distribution.