VFT News and Articles
Check back regularly for new thought leadership and news about VFT Solutions, Inc.
Streaming Piracy 3.0 – 3 years later
VFT March 2017 Newsletter
1 Year – 1 Billion Nano-Pirates No Longer A Silent Threat
In early 2015, VFT Solutions became aware of and intrigued by the introduction of the Live Streaming Applications (LSA’s) Periscope and Meerkat. While many were understandably touting the novelty and utility of LSA’s, our 30 plus years in the anti-piracy industry led us to become immediately concerned with their piracy potential. After a few months of manual study, it became clear that our concerns were justified with proprietary content from concerts to live sports being live streamed globally. Recognizing the potential scale and scope of LSA piracy, we coined the term Nano- Piracy.
Download The March 2017 Newsletter
VFT December 2016 Newsletter
The War on Piracy is Over
Almost every battle known and recorded in the annals of history eventually leads to a terminal event: surrender, annihilation or war fatigue. As all wars must eventually end or at least ebb, what remains after that point can unfortunately lead to an even more unstable situation that actually sow the seeds of the next war.
Download The December 2016 Newsletter
VFT November 2016 Newsletter
Cord-Cutting in Bars & Restaurants
Cord-cutting has been a major factor in the growing exodus of subscribers from cable and satellite pay-tv services over the last few years. As streaming services offer more and more content and wired and wireless bandwidth and speed increase, the trend most certainly will continue in households globally. While large savings are realized by cord-cutting in the home, bars and restaurants stand to save significantly more on monthly programming expenses by following the lead.
Download The November 2016 Newsletter
VFT October 2016 Newsletter
Have Live Streaming Apps Turned From Pircay to Legal?
© VFT Solutions, Inc., 2016
If you have been following the news lately, it is nearly impossible to miss the trend confronting broadcasters and sports leagues: significantly decreasing broadcast ratings and viewership. VFT Solutions has been at the forefront of studying and understanding the who, where, when and why’s of content consumption using Live Streaming Apps such as Periscope, Facebook Live and YouTube Live. In fact, our data was even featured in an article by Nelson Granados in Forbes which documented the millions who watched both legal and illegal Live Streams of the U.S. Presidential Debates. In light of our hectic schedule, we are publishing an abbreviated Newsletter this month.
Download The October 2016 Newsletter
VFT September 2016 Newsletter
Is The End of Pay-Per-View Sports Approaching?
VFT Solutions’ VLA® Technology allows us to provide clients with the data of pirate broadcasters and viewers. This technology can be utilized for Pay-Per-View sports or live sports and concerts, using applications such as Periscope and Facebook Live (LSA’s). Our technology was designed based upon our unrivaled anti-piracy experience, which has led VFT to pursue a “bottom-up” approach to augment “top-down” anti-piracy countermeasures.
Download The September 2016 Newsletter
VFT August 2016 Newsletter
Online Marketplaces- Liability for Manufacturers & Merchants Who Fail To Police Counterfeits
Since the early 2000’s the world of retail sales has been inexorably changed with the advent of online retailers Amazon and eBay which we collectively refer to as Third Party Marketplaces or (“TPM’s). Much like online video the growth and acceptance has been growing exponentially from the early 2000’s until today. For example, in 2004 Amazon had total sales of approximately 6.2 billion dollars in 2004 to 107 billion dollars in 2015.
Download The August 2016 Newsletter
VFT July 2016 Newsletter
The NETFLIX Reality – Account Sharing Is A Terminal Condition
Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit handed down a decision in the matter of United States vs. David Nosal, Case Nos. 14-10037, 14-10275 United States Court of Appeals (9th Cir. July 2016). In a much ballyhooed dissent Judge Stephen Reinhardt, argues that a conviction of a former employee under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (a) (2) (C), will “place ordinary citizens in jeopardy for their everyday conduct.”
Download The July 2016 Newsletter
VFT June 2016 Newsletter
Is Nano-Piracy Becoming Socially Acceptable?
Last September we published our first Newsletter discussing the coming threats and opportunities associated with the Live Streaming Applications (“LSA”) Periscope® and Meerkat®. Although earlier this year Meerkat surrendered in its battle for supremacy within the LSA space while Facebook Live® is entering the competition for streamers and viewers. Certainly a lot has transpired in the last nine months with a daily volume exceeding 200 million Streams and over 110 years of video watched daily.
Download The June 2016 Newsletter
VFT May 2016 Newsletter
Is Group Think An Issue in Anti-Piracy & Anti-Counterfeiting?
We recently have been reading troubling reports about the activities of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (“IACC”) and in particularly its President, Robert Barchiesi, who has reportedly been accused of conflicts of interest and other irregularities, including but not limited to the groups inclusion of the Chinese Marketplace Alibaba under a new membership class.
Download The May 2016 Newsletter
VFT March 2016 Newsletter
Periscope: One Year Later and the VFT Rating System
In about two weeks Periscope®, the live streaming app (“LSA”) owned by Twitter® was introduced at the South by Southwest® (SXSW) Film and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. At or around the same time Meerkat®, another live streaming app was also hitting the marketplace. Essentially both applications represented a sea change where individuals could make the transition from simply viewers of content to actually becoming the creator and streamer of their own content.
Download The March 2016 Newsletter
VFT February 2016 Newsletter
Nexgen Solutions To Identify, Deter & Monetize
VFT has been documenting actual instances of various forms of Next Gen piracy for over 6 years and the findings should be of great concern. Piracy evolved into something reserved for the technologically savvy, to something anyone with a smartphone can do with the click of a button. companies continue to keep their heads in the sand but just like everything else in this tech fueled world, change will come rapidly and painfully for those ill prepared.
Download The February 2016 Newsletter
VFT January 2016 Newsletter
Cord Cheating Explodes
In this edition, we take a closer look into cord cheating, and how companies like Netflix and HBO are dealing with it.
Download The January 2016 Newsletter
VFT December 2015 Newsletter
In this edition of the newsletter, we look at the effects and repercussions of sharing login accounts for Netflix and for other streaming platforms.
Download The December 2015 Newsletter
VFT November 2015 Newsletter
This month’s newsletter discusses the security effects of live streaming applications with regards to the recent Paris terrorist attacks.
Download The November 2015 Newsletter
World Sport Law & IP Forum: Online platforms a ‘game changer’ for IP owners
World Sport Law & IP Forum: Online platforms a ‘game changer’ for IP owners
The ability to provide live sports broadcasts online through applications such as Periscope and Meerkat has been described as a “game changer” which provides new threats to intellectual property rights as well as opportunities for right owners to monetise content.
Wayne Lonstein, chief executive of VFT Solutions, an anti-piracy organisation, said eliminating what he described as “nano-piracy” is impossible.
He cited the live streaming of the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather in Manny Pacquiao on Persicope as an example, whereby the number of people watching the pay-per-view fight online for free grew exponentially.Read more on trademarksandbrandsonline.com
VFT October 2015 Newsletter
In this October newsletter we discuss the presence of Nano-Piracy Network (“NPN”) streamers and their viewers in relation to the NFL and College Football season. We take another look at relevant streaming Apps such as Meerkat and Periscope and their role in these NPN streams.
Download The October 2015 Newsletter
VFT Releases Case Study of its Anti-Diversion Technology
In this protect your product case study we discuss the results of a US-Based Medical Company concerned about their distribution chain. “The channel disruption caused by the diversion was a big challenge for us and not one we could easily staff to investigate or police given the global
nature of the markets involved,” The company said. The company reached out to VFT Solutions to determine where the leak was in their distribution chain.
Download The Protect Your Product Case Study Whitepaper
Live Streaming App Update Whitepaper
With a weekend of Boxing, Football, Tennis and Baseball behind us it is now becoming apparent that live streaming applications Periscope and Meerkat are gaining traction in the live sports and entertainment market. Starting with the Mayweather – Pacquiao Pay-Per-View in May of 2015, sports fans began consuming content through live streaming applications, albeit illegally, by the thousands. In response VFT Solutions coined the phrase Nano-Piracy Networks to describe how live streaming applications were changing the piracy landscape
Download Live Streaming App Update Whitepaper
Are We Experiencing a Digital Spring?
Are We Experiencing a Digital Spring?
In mid-December 2010 a phenomenon known as the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia. Essentially the “Arab Spring” consisted of an amalgam of disaffected youth, ethnic minorities and, political outcasts and academia engaging in demonstrations, protests and ultimately revolutions. They were largely protesting repression, censorship, lack of economic opportunity and human rights violations in governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East. What set this movement apart is that it was fueled in large part by leveraging the power and scope of mobile social media. The movement almost immediately from its outset, spread virally through real-time mobile phone video, tweets, hashtags, Facebook and other social media tools. The governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen were left overthrown in its wake with numerous others still embroiled in various stages of unrest and even civil war. The speed with which the Arab Spring grew is testament to the power of mobile social media and its ubiquitous instant access. Borders, oceans and continents were no longer barriers to the transmission and viewing of live, first-hand accounts and media depicting the movement’s rapid growth and its efficacy in toppling governments.
Though it is far from clear whether the Arab Spring will ultimately be a springboard for positive effect upon humanity or an opportunity for rouge nations, terror groups and asymmetric threats such as ISIS to advance radical agendas, hatred and suffering, what is clear is the interface between mobile technology, social media and geopolitical activity has been changed forever.
The power of mobile social media is undoubtedly going to be felt far beyond the Middle East and North Africa. Only last month the horror of the murders of Journalists Allison Parker and Adam Ward was posted online shortly after they occurred and unrest in Ferguson Missouri, Baltimore Maryland were also significantly kindled by mobile social media. The Super Bowl Halftime Show, American Idol and interactive mass webcasts are other more positive examples of how mobile social media can be implemented in marketing, entertainment and education.
Are Content Owners Prepared for NPN Piracy?
Are Content Owners & Broadcasters Ready for the Threat of NPN’s?
By now we are all aware of the rapid development of live streaming applications such as Periscope and Meerkat, however what is not readily apparent is a new and very troubling emerging threat to content owners which we are calling a Nano Piracy Networks or “NPN’s.” Actually quite simple in design, this type of live piracy relies upon live streaming apps and other “everyday” software which allows for live streaming of audio and video to selected contacts. NPN’s will turn the piracy industry on its ears both from an anti-piracy perspective as well as from the present ad revenue generated profits being realized by piracy websites. NPN piracy, unlike present “traditional” online piracy, will be far more challenging for a number of reasons including, but not limited to:
-NPN’s are designed to operate on a much smaller (Nano) scale of pre-approved viewers thereby making them asymmetric as opposed to the current macro- scale sites such as firstrowsports.eu, piratebay.com etc.;
-Current search and monitoring technologies, algorithms, screen scraping and other online piracy identification methods will be largely ineffective because the NPN’s footprint will be microscopic as opposed to the traditional piracy streaming and file sharing sites;
-The barriers to acquire NPN technology are non-existent, virtually any connected device will do;
-There are no geographic limitations upon the streamer or the viewers.
-The NPN’s can easily consist of one or thousands of streamers and many hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of viewers.
-Essentially, unless you are one of the contacts or pre-approved viewers of the streamer there will be virtually no way to detect the stream and any attempt to shut down live NPN streams will be challenging, if not impossible both technologically as well as temporally.
Although it is safe to say that anyone who owns a smartphone could probably figure out how to stream and/or view NPN streams, out of an abundance of caution we have intentionally omitted any NPN specific designs or flow charts so as not to encourage proliferation of NPN’s. However the technology underlying NPN’s already exists and is in use today by millions worldwide. Content Owners, Broadcasters and any other online stakeholders need to understand that NPN’s represent the piracy equivalent of groups such as ISIL and others who have learned to function on a Nano-scale, that is on a microscopic cellular level. Today’s anti-piracy tools will not be effective in combatting NPN’s however the news is not all bad, there will be solutions and countermeasures but the key is to gain insight, understanding and real-time intelligence of how NPN’s might now, or in the near future be affecting your content or product.
Identifying The Lone Wolf Using Technology
As we enter the July 4th holiday celebrating the ratification of Declaration of Independence it is important to remember that the rights and liberties our forefathers sought to acquire and preserve have always contained risks of misuse and abuse for evil purposes. The warnings and threat predictions that have accompanied the usual preparation for picnics and fireworks in the United States have unfortunately become an all too familiar pall over a holiday that celebrates freedom and liberty.
Law enforcement, homeland security, other governmental and non-governmental agencies have been grasping with a very difficult balancing act between what the public should be told and what they do not need to know. Lately, the “chatter” level online has become the indicator of whether or not to warn or alarm the public however “chatter” is just talk and is very non-specific. The challenge presented by online radicalization and recruitment is that those who wish to do harm can hide in the reeds of the internet with ease. Ubiquitous, inexpensive technologies which allow for nearly global internet access make the challenge even greater. In essence we are searching for virtual needles in a worldwide electronic haystack that has no borders, never closes and keeps its location largely anonymous.
In order to help locate possible terror recruiters, targets and “lone-wolf” actors the challenge has been to scour the internet in order to follow trends, look for possible targets and to assign a threat risk to each of them. This model uses the traditional funnel approach to sift the great majority of lawful online activities down through various algorithmic screens to identify threat nuggets. Here is a depiction of the process:
Unfortunately using the funnel approach for online threat identification tends to be time consuming, labor intensive, bandwidth and storage unfriendly and ultimately impossible to manage. Although technologies have vastly improved upon the 3 month internet scan performed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2010 the challenge in deploying the correct technological solution still exists in terms of having the right query or logic in order to capture the correct information. Simply put it is difficult if not impossible to apply general rules to a moving and developing problem. To use a fishing analogy with the top down funnel approach there will be many dolphins caught in nets trolling for tuna. This problem is what continues to challenge and vex online surveillance being conducted by agencies such as DHS and the NSA who are charged with an impossible task where even one mistake can be deadly.
VFT Solutions has been testing and deploying its patented technology since 2010. Using a its novel “Bottom-Up” funnel approach to identifying content pirates, counterfeit channels and other nefarious online actors we have been able to turn literally turn the process upside down. As can be seen in the graphic below VFT technology uses a proprietary blend of human engineering with technology to have targets self-identify:
The benefits of this approach are many, firstly it is far more scalable and far less labor and cost prohibitive than top-down methods. The VFT model takes the impossibly large universe of the internet and decreases it exponentially, essentially creating a virtual magnet to draw specific online elements. Though no technology or tactic is ever going to be a cure-all, it is fair to say that the VFT model has proven highly successful and cost-efficient in all deployments thus representing an important technological adjunct to ongoing terror threat identification.
The important points to remember as we continue to struggle with balancing the need to identify with the vastness of the anonymous internet universe can best be summed up as follows:
- – The Internet is too big to find everything and everyone.
- – When like-minded people find each other they have already self-identified. When the needle in the haystack tells you where it is, you have saved precious time and effort.
- – Online actors, would-be Lone Wolves tend to be followers not leaders. If you lead a target to tell you who and where they are, they will. They feel comfort with those who appear to share their mindset.
- – One-on-one communication always makes targets more comfortable and willing to share information and views, they want to spread their “gospel” to other apparently like-minded individuals.
Discovery of the deployment of bottom-up intelligence disrupts and destroys communication channels making it far more difficult and uncomfortable to trust the party on the other side of the online contact.
- – When communications are damaged even asymmetric threats become less likely to act on their own because of isolation, insecurity and paranoia
Meerkat and Periscope Webinar with Wayne Lonstein and Ed Goren
Interview with Value Finding Technology CEO Wayne Lonstein
From Closed-Circuit to Meerkat® Content Owners at Great Risk Whitepaper
“Left unchecked live restreaming will undoubedly cause severe erosive effects to occur within the live industry, possibly threatening the very existence of Television Networks, Cable and Satellite Companies, Sports Promoters and even Kingdoms such as the NFL® and MLB®.”
Download The From Closed-Circuit to Meerkat Content Owners at Great Risk Whitepaper
Human Trafficking Whitepaper
After extensive consultation, input and guidance from trusted partners at Arizona State University’s Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security, along with some of the largest police agencies and Non-Governmental Human Trafficking Organizations in the United States, VFT Solutions has developed technology to proactively engage cyber criminals involved in Human Trafficking activity online in real time, giving previously unavailable visibility into this global crisis. This groundbreaking technology will enhance the efforts of law enforcement agencies that work day-in and day-out to interdict these illicit affairs by removing jurisdictional and physical barriers that have proven to be insurmountable in the past, and provide added reach and breadth to their efforts.
Download the Human Trafficking Whitepaper
Pirate Persona Whitepaper
Cataloguing and analyzing pirate personas provide the key to understanding online piracy behaviors. The paper outlines and highlights the undisputable, existential threat that various types of proprietary content pirates pose to manufacturers, creators, owners and distributors of online content, goods and services.
Download the Pirate Persona Whitepaper
The Connected World Whitepaper
Today, more than ever, we live in a connected world that requires a robust approach to the deployment of people, systems and protections. VFT is here to help.
Download The Connected World Whitepaper