educational

Protecting Video Content: Part 2

Jay Janarthanan

In Part 1 of this article, I addressed some of the primary issues facing web sites wanting to protect the video content that they offered from users trying to steal it. In today's conclusion, I'll discuss solutions: Your best option for content protection is Digital Rights Management (DRM), but just how does it work?

In DRM you, as a content producer, encrypt your video files. This means that whenever a user tries to play one of your videos the actual player contacts the DRM service provider to assess if the user has permission to watch it or not. The DRM service provider checks against your user database and sends a license to watch the video if the user is still active. If not, they will be refused access. DRM can be used to your advantage in various ways – let’s look at how it can solve the issues we have already covered.

3 Day Pass
When the user cancels his membership within 3 days, his license to view the content is simply stopped and he cannot watch the videos anymore. This method can also be easily applied to members who cancel subscriptions after weeks or months of usage. The minute they cancel all of the videos they have downloaded to their hard drives just stop working.

P2P
DRM issues a license to a specific PC and not to a user. This means that even if the user uploads a video to a peer to peer system for other users to copy, they will not be able to watch it unless a new license is issued. If the user has already been given a license to watch a video on his PC, we will not issue any more licenses and those users who downloaded videos via P2P will not be allowed to watch them.

Some sites are actually turning P2P systems into a marketing advantage. Rather than just telling the user that downloads in this way that they cannot watch the video, they are offering him the option to access it. For example, when he tries to watch the download he’ll be told that he cannot because he hasn’t paid for it. He will then be offered the chance to sign up to the site at a special reduced price, at which point he can watch this video plus all the other site content. This strategy has proved to be very successful from a marketing perspective.

Credit Card Charge Backs
Every time a user tries to watch a video the DRM system has the capability of optionally recording details such as the time the video was watched and the IP address of the computer that was used. It can also store other information such as cookie values etc. If a user tries to charge back, we simply go into the log files, look up everything that he has watched so that it can then be determined if the charge back is genuine or a case of outright fraud.

User Distribution
In this instance we can apply the same rules used on P2P systems to stop content being distributed. Users trying to access videos via email or similar media will not be allowed to see the content without a license.

Pirates
A DRM server is capable of knowing exactly who is playing your video and where it is being played, anywhere in the world. This applies even it is being played behind a firewall or on a computer in an ultra-secure location. When videos are protected by DRM every user needs a license to play which alerts the server to the viewing. As the content owner, you can pinpoint any user guilty of copying your videos and distributing them on internal networks.

By now you may be thinking that a DRM solution incurs the kind of expense that can only be afforded by industry big boys. Whilst this was the case up until a year ago, it’s not true today. Historically DRM solutions were hard to implement as they involved so many variables, and companies needed a dedicated IT group to get it right. Nowadays we can use software companies that purely specialize in DRM systems, allowing them to provide solutions and implementations rapidly. This has also led to a decrease in implementation costs. At the end of the day implementing DRM to protect your video content makes sound economic sense for any business. Content that is protected will result in more sales on your web site, whether you are blocking P2P traders and pirates, turning illegal downloaders into customers or stopping the abusers of the $2.99 trial.

Just remember – as a content owner you’ve put your creativity and your time into crafting content with a commercial value. DRM solutions give you a real chance of protecting both your content and your financial returns.

Case Study
www.karadavis.com is a popular adult web site with a growing user base. The site produces small video clips lasting about 5-10 minutes, all of which are exclusively produced for the site. They turned to DRM as a solution when they discovered that their content was being widely distributed on peer to peer servers. After installing DRM they quickly saw their revenue rise as users who were really interested in viewing the videos started to subscribe to the site once they couldn’t access them free of charge on P2P.

If you want to protect your online video content, DRM is the answer!

About the author: Jay Janarthanan is the co-founder and CTO of objectcube.com 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 jay@objectcube.com

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