Alternatives to DRM

Are there legitimate alternatives to DRM? When distributing content, the decision of whether to protect a video with more than paywall security, is a process that balances the probable loss in revenue, versus the amount it will cost to protect your video.

Without some type of content protection, content is at risk.  Thousands of websites distribute the vast majority of monetized video content, behind a secure a paywall. Paywalls are user authenticated Web sites that prevent viewers from accessing the videos unless they purchase a subscription or otherwise pay to play. Unfortunately, with this approach, after a viewer gets access to the video, it’s totally unprotected; anybody with a powerful browser or download utility can download the file.

In most cases, publishers decide that they don't need any more security than a paywall; or providing access restrictions to content based on registration and logged in status.

Why DRM is Secure

Why does DRM provide superior security?  Because without a valid license, and without an online connection, no user can view the server-based video.

While DRM is a secure form of content protection, it can add significant cost to each stream, and there are excellent alternatives.  Can other security technologies, effectively deliver the same protection as DRM, without the huge overhead of DRM? Perhaps.

Increasingly, video publishers are using adaptive streaming formats, such as HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS), or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). These protocols provide a powerful new layer of protection, because these are segmented formats; inherently harder to capture and assemble.

For example, HLS encryption encrypts the video chunks before delivery, which means even if the chunks are captured, they can’t be viewed without a decryption key; but, when a single key is  captured in a browser during viewing, the video can be de-crypted by an experienced hacker.

When each segment is encrypted with a separate key, it adds a significantly difficult layer of security to live and VOD streams. The encryption of each individual HLS segment is now a part of the standard, and works quite well on inexpensive server hardware.

If video content is not highly valuable to a very broad range of viewers, it’s unlikely that an unathorized party would have any interest in stealing or pirating it, let alone go through the trouble to capture multiple keys, and their protected content, for each HLS segment.  What would be the ROI? To  distribute esoteric videos?

If you combine advanced, AES encryption with other technologies, you can effectively implement in-house DRM, capable of the same big security features of traditional DRM;  without a valid license, and without an online connection, no customer or hacker can view the server-based video.

MediaGration Simple DRM Plus

MediaGration is a software development company focused on advanced eCommerce, media and HTML5. MediaGration's Simple DRM Plus is a collection of security plugins, each providing a strategic level of protection; which, when combined, form a very strong protection of the stream and the content. Simple DRM Plus technology is a family of Web plugins and and software toolkits that allow any publisher to protect their content, with the below features:
  • HLSe Encryption
  • CAPTCHA Registration/Login
  • Account and subscription validation
  • Stream Control
  • Alias File Access
MediaGration's Simple DRM Plus is a secure media server-based technology, achieved through the implementation of plugins that deliver specific security features; such as stream control, aliasing, encryption. The architecture also insures protection of all video assets:
  • Videos can only be accessed and streamed from a local media server
  • Content is stored in a protected directory
The result is an extremely secure and efficient user, data, network and content security; without the need for a separate DRM server.  When combined with additional security, the protection becomes even greater.

MediaGration currently offers Simple DRM Plus software toolkit for stand-alone Web sites, and  software extensions for MMCart for Joomla 3, Wordpress, Drupal, Magento, and other frameworks. Simple DRM Plus can be implemented on Evostream Media Server, AWS, HP Cloud, RackSpace or other Open Stack Linux hosting environment.

*MMCart is an advanced pay-per-view, pay-per-minute, subscription component for Joomla 3.

When is DRM Required?

If publishers plan to distribute third-party content, including feature movies produced by major studios, you’ll are required to use one of the full DRM schemes described below.

Traditional DRM technologies encrypt the video files, and provide other protections, including the ability to disable unprotected playback over digital connections such as HDMI. Furthermore, to fully monetize content, movie studios require that DRM  support the popular media distribution business models—including subscription, rental, and purchase—and allow viewers to watch the content on multiple platforms, such as computers, tablets, and consumer electronics (CE) devices.

In the past, the above additional capabilities couldn't easily be implemented on most stand-alone Web sites; however, MediaGration sells eCommece and media software that permit Web sites to sell subscriptions, rentals, purchases, and views of video -- on most platforms. Before investing excessively in DRM service and/or infrastructure, assess your risks and look at alternatives to DRM. 


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