educational

Secure Your Future with DRM: Part 1

Christopher Levy

2003 will inevitably mark the beginning of a death spiral for the Recording Industry – one of the world‘s largest revenue generating businesses. The rabid theft of their primary product on a global scale and the Petri dish known as the PC have contributed to rapidly dwindling profits, and have industry pundits asking the unexpected question “What will become of the Recording Industry as we know it?”

In January, Wired devoted an entire issue to this question with interviews of Hillary Rosen from the RIAA, and Nikki Hemming from the legally embattled Kazaa P2P application and the Sony team charged with developing OpenMG X, an early stage competitor to the reigning DRM standard from Microsoft. The cover featured a visual of the Hindenbergh aflame with the caption: “Download. Rip. Burn” in effigy to the middle fingered salute that technophiles everywhere are raising to the Entertainment Industry at large.

February brings news that AOL/Time Warner, the nation’s largest conglomerate of media and Internet holdings MAY be looking for a buyer of the Warner Music holdings after losing 100 Billion in value in the past year. Who knows what may be around the next corner?

The Adult Internet Industry is a very similar business that continues to burst at its seams with new content and webmasters coming online daily, and larger brands eating up market share. Like the Music business, the Adult Internet business stands to suffer from widespread theft and piracy. Last year I was quoted in ABCNews.com as saying it is a billion dollar industry. I think it’s more. Much, much more, and its primary product is one that is easily stolen or re-shared.

Since the events of September 11th put this country on a security binge, DRM has been a buzzword in the press and media, which is not to say DRM is not an effective security product, but its inherent sales and marketing features warrant a second look now more than ever.

At a very low level, DRM systems provide a lock and key for your content. Using extrapolations of this concept, DRM platforms are able to provide more and more complex marketing and sales vehicles which webmasters can utilize to increase the reach of their businesses.

Using Subscription, Token and PPV models, webmasters are able to use DRM to enforce and expand their current business models in place. If you have a managed members area and you want to protect your videos so that more members sign-up and stay longer, DRM lets you do it. If you want to take trailers or full-length movies and drop them safely into P2P networks to drive traffic to your front door, then DRM provides a viable and affordable option.

As a webmaster or content creator, there’s a growing myriad of options and information about DRM available in the marketplace which can be confusing and misleading at times. Let’s take a quick look at what DRM really is, how it works and where to get it:

What Is DRM?
Modern Internet-based DRM solutions are software based platforms that facilitate file management and perform a few primary functions of importance to a webmaster:

  • Provide Conditional Access to Content: Using DRM, access to content can be limited by a variety of conditions including the entry of a valid email address, the successful completion of a simple marketing poll or the secure completion of a standard buy page.

  • Guarantee Copyright Protection: With file-level encryption, DRM ensures that malicious users/competitors or ex-employees are unable to modify or alter content which is specifically covered under legal copyright protections such as most Internet specific content.

  • Unify Authentication Between the Buyer and Seller: As users consume more and more downloaded and streaming broadband content, DRM provides the ability for content creators to create tie-ins with their existing authentication infrastructures to ease user experience and scale to the demand.

  • Establish a Tethered Relationship with Users: DRM is more than a lock and key. It’s a switch and your holding it. Because of the trusted relationship established with your customers using DRM, they are more apt to allow you to market products to them which use similar playback and control mechanisms.

Most deployed DRM platforms provide a web-based environment where content can be uploaded, locked and FTP’d back to the native hosting resource whether it is a co-located web server or CDN account. Then using a web interface, all business rules related to the content including its value, the buy-page URL, play count etc. are managed in real-time.

Part 2 will look at How DRM Works, and Where to Get It ~ Stay Tuned!

Christopher Levy is the CEO and President of NFA Group Inc., a Rights Management Consultancy providing expert vision in the areas of Entertainment Media and Corporate Security. Mr. Levy was the CTO and Founder of DRM Networks, the President and Founder of EmpireDRM [ClearKey Solutions] and is the inventor of streamOS, the world's first CDN overlay platform. Mr. Levy can be contacted at clevy@nfagroup.com

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