Session-Based A/B Watermarking in Video Streaming – How Does it Work?

In today’s world, online video streaming is the way of the future, and this has led to the increased need for content protection, such as digital watermarking. Session-based A/B watermarking is a technique used to mark and secure video streams to track piracy and offenders who download content illegally. Apart from DRM, watermarking is a popular technique for content rights protection.

This article will examine what session-based A/B watermarking is, how it works, and its potential vulnerabilities and limitations. We will also discuss the best practices for implementing this technology and its advantages compared to other watermarking techniques.

What is Session-Based A/B Watermarking?

Session-based A/B watermarking is a technique that allows for the watermarking of video streams on the server side used to protect the content owner’s intellectual property rights and help prevent the unauthorized distribution of video content. This technique is also useful in detecting the source of any leaks that occur.

Session-based A/B watermarking works by embedding a unique identifier into each video stream. This identifier is invisible to the viewer but can be detected by specialized software. The identifier can contain information such as the date and time of the recording, the source of the recording, and other identifying information.

Benefits of Session-Based A/B Watermarking

One of the benefits of session-based A/B watermarking is that it can be used to track video content distribution across multiple platforms. This means that if a video is leaked on one platform, the watermark can be used to identify the source of the leak and take appropriate action.

Another benefit of session-based A/B watermarking is that it can be used to track the usage of video content. This means that content owners can see how their content is being used, and make informed decisions about how to monetize that content.

Session-based A/B watermarking is also helpful in the fight against piracy. By embedding a unique identifier into each video stream, content owners can track the distribution of their content and take legal action against those distributing it without permission.

In conclusion, session-based A/B watermarking is a powerful tool for protecting the intellectual property rights of content owners, preventing unauthorized distribution of video content, and tracking the usage of that content. It is an essential tool in the fight against piracy and is likely to become even more important as video content distribution continues to evolve.

session-based A/B watermarking
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How Does Session-Based A/B Watermarking Work?

Session-based A/B watermarking is a technique used to identify the source of leaked videos. It is a complex process that involves creating multiple variations of the same video, each with a unique watermark. The following paragraphs will provide a more detailed explanation of how this technique works.

Firstly, the server creates two identical video streams, A and B. The only difference between these streams is the watermark placed on them. These video streams are then sent to different users with different sets of watermarks. This means that if the video is leaked, the unique watermark in each stream can be used to determine which user the leak originated from.

However, the server does not stop at creating just two video streams.

It generates multiple A/B variations of the original video.

Each variation has a different watermark, and the server randomly assigns each user to receive one of these variations. This means that even if a user shares their video, the watermark will be unique to that particular variation, making it easier to identify the source of the leak.

In addition to creating multiple video variations, the server ensures that the video streams are customized to the user’s device. This uses device-level parameters such as the user agent, IP address, and screen resolution. By customizing the video streams, the server ensures that even if the same video is played on different devices, the watermarking will not match.

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It is important to note that session-based A/B watermarking is not foolproof. Determined individuals can remove the watermark from the video or use screen capture to record the video. However, this technique provides an added layer of security that can make it more difficult for leaks to occur.

In conclusion, session-based A/B watermarking is a powerful technique that can be used to identify the source of leaked videos. By creating multiple video variations with unique watermarks and customizing the video streams to the user’s device, this technique provides a more secure way of sharing videos online.

Potential Vulnerabilities and Limitations of Session-Based A/B Watermarking

Session-based A/B watermarking has some limitations and vulnerabilities that are worth noting.

One significant limitation is that it is challenging to scale the server-side implementation of this technique because it requires the creation of multiple video variations.

Additionally, manipulating parameters could enable potential hackers to exploit any weaknesses in implementing the watermarking scheme.

Creating A/B Variations for Different Types of Digital Content

Creating A/B variations is a crucial component of session-based A/B watermarking. However, different types of digital content require different approaches. For example, the bandwidth requirements for watermarking the video of a sports event will be different than those of a movie.

  • VOD requires watermarking of the entire video file.
  • Simultaneously, live streaming requires watermarking of small segments of the video.

Differences between Session-based watermarking and Client-Side Watermarking

The primary difference between session- and client-side watermarking is that client-side watermarking occurs when the video is played, and the watermark is generated on the user’s device. Alternatively, with session-based watermarking, the watermark is generated on the server side and sent to the client. Client-side watermarking provides an extra layer of security, but implementation challenges and dependence on device-level parameters can be a problem.

Best Practices for Session-Based A/B Watermarking

Here are some best practices to ensure the secure implementation of session-based A/B watermarking:

  • Use encryption to ensure the protection of user data and content.
  • Create various versions of the watermark and distribute them randomly to different users.
  • Ensure secure storage of the watermark information.
  • Adhere to regional laws and regulations regarding data protection and privacy.
  • Ensure that robust testing and quality assurance procedures are implemented.

Advantages of Using Session-Based Watermarking

Session-based watermarking has several benefits over other watermarking techniques. For one, it is server-side, which makes it an efficient and effective method for marking multiple sessions. Additionally, it allows for the dynamic creation of multiple A/B versions, which boosts protection. It also has an advantage in detecting the source of leaks and unauthorized content distribution.

These advantages make it useful for protecting content owners’ intellectual property in the digital age.


Session-based A/B watermarking is an essential technology used to protect digital video content in the modern age, where video streaming is the primary content delivery source. Its effectiveness in protecting and detecting unauthorized distribution helps safeguard content owners’ intellectual property rights. While it has some limitations and vulnerabilities, its advantages make it an efficient and effective method for watermarking video streams.

krishna rao vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar

Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.

With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.

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