How to Pick A DRM Provider

David Eisenbacher
In this article I am going to go over some of the basics of Digital Rights Management (DRM) providers and some of the things that you should consider when looking for a DRM provider.

To start off, every website should have DRM – to both limit who may see your content, and when; and to make sure that you are making as much money as possible from your investment. The most popular DRM is Microsoft DRM. This is for several reasons, including the fact that Microsoft was the first company to come out with a usable DRM in 1999, and as such, Microsoft's DRM has had time to grow and mature so that it is more reliable and secure. A third reason that it is one of the most used is that it just works, and is cheap and easy to implement.

Some things that you should look for when picking a DRM provider include:

  • That the DRM provider is a "Microsoft Certified" DRM provider. This is important because Microsoft has strict reasons why they choose a company. They look at the company’s infrastructure to make sure it can provide the proper uptime and support. Microsoft also has policies for DRM licensing servers that they need to be updated weekly to make sure only the proper players can get a DRM license. A list of Microsoft Certified DRM providers can be found here.

  • That the company offers you the ability to DRM protect your content locally. This ensures that you do not have to upload your unprotected media to them for the DRM protection, and allows you to have total control over how and when your master copy receives a DRM header.

  • That the company can offer the ability to DRM protect downloadable as well as live streaming media.

  • That you do not have to have them do your membership or sales process. This makes the implementation much faster if you can keep your current business practices without having to re-invent the wheel and turn over all backend management to the provider.

  • That you can use many different business models to fit your needs, including PPV sales, membership sales, advertising, and email list building in exchange for free samples. There should not be anything that you can come up with that they are unable to support.

  • They should be able to support you whether your site is on a UNIX or Windows-based hosting environment.

  • That they support Apple's Mac. Mac's fall under DRM version 1, which is very limited and can actually be defeated with the "Freeme" hack. But it should be your decision if you want to support Macs – not the DRM providers.

This is just a few of the issues that I have discussed with clients over the years during their search for a DRM provider.

One last thing to keep in mind: you should always have them give you a "Proof of Concept" or testing account first, so that you can make sure the company's solution works before you choose them.