Protecting Video Content: Part 1

Jay Janarthanan

The past few years have seen a significant increase in the number of Internet users accessing the web via higher speed broadband connections. In order to tap into this market, web sites are increasingly supplying video content to their users as well as traditional static material. In addition, the growth of reality-based sites such as have contributed to the growth in use of videos on the web…

In this article I will try to address one of the primary issues facing web sites offering video content: how to protect it. Any site distributing videos faces the problem of dealing with users stealing the content without paying for it. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems.

The 3 Day Pass
Almost every site that offers some form of video content will offer a 3-day trial for a low payment of $2.99. Users pay the fee, join the site, and are then able to use on off-line web reading software to download all of the site’s videos.

This software was originally designed to give users a copy of the site on their PCs, which they could then access even if they were not online. Nowadays, however, the software is so advanced that users are given more options. They can, for example, specify to only download specific files such as Windows Media, the preferred format for most videos on the web. This allows a user to download all of a site’s video content and then simply cancel membership after the 3-day pass. The user is happy…..after all, he got the whole site for just $2.99. The implications for the web site are not so good. They’ll lose money on affiliate payments, their bandwidth costs will rise as the user downloads everything on the site and they lose out on membership fees.

Peer to peer file sharing systems allow users to share files from one PC to the next. In this instance, a user who has downloaded videos from a site can place them on a P2P system for others to download at no cost. They can watch the videos without having to pay a dime to the original content owners. P2P usage is growing at an incredible rate and causes significant problems to the industry, especially for small video-based web sites that may not have the financial muscle of the big studios to chase these users down.

Credit Card Charge Backs
One of the industry’s biggest and most common problems is that of users who obtain charge backs on credit card transactions. In this case, a user subscribes to a site and then spends time downloading whatever he wants. If he then needs an easy way to avoid paying, he calls his credit card company and reports the transaction as fraud. The web site owner is liable for a large penalty payment, and, worst of all, knows that the user has got all of the videos on his hard drive to watch whenever he likes.

User Distribution
How many times have you received an email from a friend with a 10 Meg video file attached? Transferring large files via email is becoming more and more common every day with users able to use corporate email servers to exchange the joke or porn video of the day. Obviously, the original content provider receives no payment.

Nowadays, pirating is simple with any user able to build a web site and put your videos on it. With so many web sites on the Internet it may take you months to find pirate sites or you may not even be aware that they exist. Experienced pirates use private sites that you can’t access because they are blocked by user id/password. Your only hope here is to find out about the sites and get the actual id/password from IRC chat networks etc.

Now we’ve examined the most common ways that video site owners lose money, let’s talk about solutions. Stay tuned for Part 2!

About the author: Jay Janarthanan is the co-founder and CTO of where he leads current development efforts on objectCube’s video on demand technology offerings. His past work includes research on cryptography and the digital distribution of media assets. objectCube is currently one the largest DRM service providers with many well-known clients in the adult industry. You may contact the author at