Adobe thinks it can solve the Netflix * TorrentFreak password “piracy” problem

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When online file sharing hit the mainstream, the heads of entertainment companies tore their hair out in frustration.

They knew their products, ran tight deals, and had the best possible understanding of the intricacies of their respective markets. Competing with ‘free’ was clearly impossible.

Today we know that looking beyond simple content, such as a piece of music or a film, it is possible to find added value in the way the content is presented, distributed, consumed and, ultimately, appreciated by the customer. Legal content alone may have trouble competing with free content, but as part of a premium content consumption experience, it’s not a absolute Requirements.

Netflix – Changing Attitudes

When Netflix was “just” a delivery platform, its pragmatic approach to the piracy problem was well known. But as Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth. While Netflix has burned huge sums by creating its own content, its “exclusives” have climbed the piracy charts as quickly as Hollywood’s. People don’t pirate platforms, but they love pirated content.

Netflix has decided to join the MPA and by extension the ACE anti-piracy coalition, adopting anti-piracy attitudes more or less aligned with those of the major studios. But Netflix has a legacy problem to solve, which covers paying customers and freeloaders precariously, with implications for growth.

“Password sharing” was once a strategically ignored activity that helped foster good customer relationships while introducing friends and family to legal streaming. After being subjected to a cynical rebranding campaign by her detractors, password sharing is now nearly dead, replaced by the bogey brother: Password Piracy.

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Netflix does not use the term publicly but there is no doubt that the company wants to eliminate the phenomenon from its platform. How to do this without damaging customer relationships is a billion dollar question. Adobe thinks it has the answer.

Big problems require comprehensive solutions

Adobe prefers the term “credential sharing” to “password hacking”, but does not minimize the implications. Citing a 2020 study, Adobe says up to 46 million people in the United States could access streaming services with credentials that aren’t theirs without paying anything for the privilege.

Citing potential losses of $ 9 billion a year, three times that of rival Disney +, Adobe says Netflix suffers most from credential sharing. The company believes that if video streaming is to avoid the fate of streaming music where free content is expected, action is needed sooner rather than later. But it must be done with care.

Existing options can frustrate the wrong people

Efforts to reduce password sharing can include repeated request for login information, strict enforcement of device limits (including deactivations / reactivations), aggressive enforcement of concurrent connection limits, and multi-factor authentication . While these mechanisms are meant to discourage password sharing, they irritate everyone, even the person paying the bill.

Adobe believes that because every user is different, any action taken against an account should be part of a data-driven strategy designed to “measure, manage and monetize” password sharing. The company’s vision is for platforms like Netflix to implement machine learning models to extract behavioral patterns associated with an account, to determine how the account is used.

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This information can determine what steps need to be taken against an account and how success or failure can be determined by tracking an account over the next few weeks or months.

Ignoring the obviously disturbing factors for a moment, Adobe’s approach seems more sophisticated, even though the accompanying slide gives off a file-sharing-style “gradual response” vibe.


This leads to the question of how much customer information Adobe would need to ensure the right accounts are targeted, with the right actions, at the right time.

IQ Account – Sophisticated machine learning

Adobe’s IQ Account is powered by Adobe Senseiwhich in turn serves as the intelligence layer for Adobe Experience platform.

In theory, Adobe will know more about a streaming account than who is using it, so the company should be able to predict the most effective course of action to reduce password sharing and / or monetize it, without bothering the owner. account.


But of course, if you’re tracking customer accounts in such detail, capturing all available information is the obvious next step. Adobe plans to collect data on how many devices are in use, how many people are active, and geographic locations, including distinct locations and ranges.

This will then lead to a conclusion on the ‘likelihood of sharing’, along with a usage pattern classification that should identify travelers, commuters, close relatives and friends, even the existence of a second home.

Time to take action

Since over-sharing is likely to affect platforms such as Netflix, Adobe’s plan includes a period of mass account tracking followed by an ‘over-sharing’ warning on the screen in its dashboard.

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From there, legal streaming services can identify the most accountable accounts and begin preparing their “step-by-step response” to behavior change. After monetizing those who can be monetized, those who refuse to pay can be identified and downloaded.

Or how Adobe puts it: “Return freeloaders to the available market”.


Finally, Adobe also suggests that its system can be used to identify customers who exhibit good behavior. These users can be rewarded by eliminating authentication requirements, concurrent streaming limits, and device registrations. As an added bonus, all good users can receive a hefty 50% subscription discount.

The discount part is certainly a poor attempt at sarcasm on my part, but the rest of the paragraph is entirely authentic.

It seems to suggest that customers who use their accounts as agreed will be able to do so with confidence. In addition, they will be rewarded with a whole host of new freedoms to enjoy, particularly those that could push them directly into the bad step of “password piracy” and related corrective measures.

That said, relax and enjoy watching the movie. Any aggressive monitoring is for the greater good (of streaming platforms) and to ensure that customers get exactly what they paid for, not a fraction more.

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