Video trends · 8 min read

What is DRM

What is DRM and why is it important for your videos?

Uncover what is Digital Rights Management (DRM), understand how it safeguards your digital content, and gain insights into why it's a crucial element for ensuring security and control of your videos.

Arushi - Content Manager

Arushi Gupta

February 28, 2024

In this era where digital content is increasing by leaps and bounds, protecting your content is key. And video Digital Rights Management or Video DRM plays an important role in it.

 

Today, when it comes to online videos, there are more restrictions on how people can use and consume digital content than ever before, with online content regulation and competition policies being written into law for the first time ever. With the addition of modern consumer demands requiring better content that is delivered faster and more effectively, it’s essential for creators and distributors to have a plan in place.

 

That’s where Digital Rights Management becomes important.

 

Going by the literal meaning, DRM stands for “Digital Rights Management”. DRM helps you protect any form of digital content from any form of misuse. In simple words, it helps you protect the intellectual property rights of the digital content created and published by you so that no one can steal or reuse your content in any manner possible.

 

Let’s learn a bit more about what is DRM, how does it work, and why is it important for your video content.

What is the role of DRM in video playback?

DRM technology plays a crucial role in safeguarding your online video content. Let’s see how.

 

A DRM software exclusively delivers DRM Keys to authorized devices and user accounts so that any unauthorized access is prevented.

 

Most DRM technologies also include screen recording protection which makes it challenging to steal/misuse content. Therefore, in essence, DRM offers dual protection, restricting content access through encryption and also blocking recording and reuse of content.

 

Fundamentally, DRM fulfills four key roles in video playback.

 

DRM Encryption: With a special set of DRM keys, DRM encrypts the data and sends the encrypted data over the internet. This makes it harder for pirates to steal the content that is en-route to the end user's device.

 

Watermarking: Instead of opting for visible watermarking which can be removed with tools, DRM uses forensic watermarking which gets embedded into the metadata and cannot be altered with ease.

 

Licensing: User licensing is another way in which a DRM software helps your content to steer itself clear of unwanted users. This is done by providing licensing to eligible people who can view your content.

 

Authentication: DRM video protection only allows authenticated users to access digital content.

How does DRM encryption work?

In a DRM-powered system, the content has to go through multiple servers and processes so that there’s no compromise with the safety of the content.

 

Creation and Uploading: The content creator creates content like music, videos, or e-books and then uploads them into the system.

Encryption: The content once uploaded is then encrypted which makes it unreadable while it is being transferred online.

Distribution: After the DRM encryption, the content is then transferred to various channels like online streaming platforms or downloading services which becomes an interface for the users.

Access Request: The users can then view the content on those platforms and can purchase them or gain access for the same.

License Request: In this step, the user’s device sends a request to the DRM license server. The device can only play the content once the license has been provided.

Authentication: Upon receiving the request, the server then verifies the users and the device to check the legitimacy of their request.

License Generation and Delivery: Once the authentication is complete, the license server generates the license and the decryption keys which are then delivered to the user’s device. This gives the user rights to use and view the content.

Decryption: The user is then able to decrypt the content using the decryption keys that are delivered with the license.

Playback: Finally the user can play and view the content on their device.

Why do you need DRM?

Here are some of the reasons why the need for DRM may arise.

 

Revenue Protection: Strong DRM protections give content owners more leverage in negotiating licensing deals with platforms and distributors. This can lead to higher revenue shares and fairer compensation for their work.

Data Protection: With DRM, video publishers can restrict the access of the content to authorized users. This becomes extremely important if the data is confidential and can have massive implications if there are leaks.

Distribution Control: DRM-enabled video also prevents authorized users from distributing content to other people who do not have the required license.

Brand Image Protection: One of the major problems that DRM solves is restricting distribution and modification. It can stop the spread of misinformation and poor-quality content which often dilutes the company's image.

What is multi-DRM and how does it work?

So far, we've read about the nuances of individual DRM systems.

 

However, did you know that the synergy of multiple DRM systems is also possible?

 

Technically, multi-DRM is a blend of DRM technologies to fortify digital content across diverse platforms and devices. Within this architecture, content undergoes encryption through different DRM technologies, with licensing servers configured to issue licenses that are seamlessly compatible with each distinct DRM system.

 

That’s what we call a multi-DRM system.

Digital Rights Management in use

Here are some examples to see the everyday applications of DRM in your favorite apps.

 

iTunes

The iTunes store by Apple employs DRM to restrict the number of devices customers can utilize for listening to songs. Downloaded audio files from iTunes contain data regarding song purchase and usage, preventing access on unauthorized devices. Additionally, Apple safeguards content in its iBooks store using FairPlay technology, ensuring that books can only be read on iOS devices.

 

Spotify and Deezer

A lot of streaming platforms like Spotify and Deezer leverage DRM to calculate the time spent by users on tracks so that royalties can be calculated accurately.

 

Private Documents

Businesses use DRM to execute contracts remotely. It enables them to share files, check the original version, maintain tabs on the edits, and designate tasks to people.

 

Microsoft Office Suite

When using Microsoft softwares like Windows or Office programs, users are required to acknowledge the company's user license and input a key for installation. Additionally, Microsoft employs DRM technology, known as PlayReady, to safeguard content distribution over networks and deter unauthorized use of its software.

 

Netflix

OTT services like Netflix and Amazon Prime exercise control over their content to ensure that only paid subscribers can access the content and there’s no duplication of it in the process.

DRM video protection

In our constantly changing digital landscape, fraudsters are devising novel methods to circumvent DRM-protected content. These malicious actors employ various tactics, from reverse engineering encryption algorithms to exploiting the vulnerabilities in DRM implementation. Staying ahead in such a scenario demands constant innovation and adaptation. To ensure a robust DRM video protection, we suggest that:

  • You use updated and robust DRM technologies and implement regular updates and patches to ensure thorough DRM video protection.
  • You use piracy monitoring tools that can help you track unauthorized distribution of your content.
  • You diversify your distribution channels to reduce dependency on a single source.
  • You become a part of DRM communities where you can get informed about the latest threats and emerging technologies.

Stay a step ahead by protecting your videos with api.video

While api.video does not offer DRM protection, it offers many features that could be your first step to protect your videos and keep them safe.  

Private videos

Api.video offers the ability to create a one-time video with a destructible private token. This means that when the user opens the video once, it's playable in the same page for the next 24 hours and the session is retained with the ability to refresh the page. The same URL is not accessible the second time when trying to access it from a different browser, page or tab. This feature is applicable if you decide to use our in-house player or a built-in player that is not api.video.

 

White-labeling opportunities

Watermarking: With our video watermarking feature, you can ensure that all your videos carry your brand mark - in the form of a logo or a name. This not only protects your brand from plagiarism but also gives you the needed visibility.

 

Custom domains: With our custom domain feature, you can integrate your video player seamlessly into your existing site or launch it as a new platform entirely under your chosen domain.

 

Personalized thumbnails: With our personalized thumbnails, you have the option to make your video preview align with your brand. When you use our 'pick or upload thumbnail' feature, you can choose a perfect snapshot to represent each video before it starts playing.

 

Domain referrer restrictions: Our Domain Referrer feature let's you restrict access of your videos or livestreams using Domain Referrer restrictions. This is helpful to make sure that your videos or live streams are secure and being consumed specifically through your domain or subdomains.

 

In conclusion, understanding "what is DRM" and its meaning is important in comprehending how digital rights management shapes the security and accessibility of videos. As technology evolves, DRM continues to be a key component in it, balancing user access with content protection. Stay informed about DRM's evolving landscape to make sure you handle video distribution and consumption securely.

 

api.video enables you to quickly and securely deliver on-demand and live-stream videos directly from your website, software, or app. Sign-up for a free sandbox account to try out api.video’s video API, or talk to our team to get a demo.

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