OTT platforms are all the rage for those looking to consume video content on the go. However, for anyone planning to provide such a service, including live sports, movies and UHD programming, will need to consider the security of its content. Despite the many legal ways to stream content today, unlicensed use and piracy are still rampant.
As a result, securing OTT content becomes a top priority for platform providers to ensure their users have a safe and enjoyable experience. If you’re wondering how to secure videos on a website meant for streaming, the surest method ensuring secure OTT content delivery is through Digital Rights Management (DRM).
What is DRM?
DRM is used to collectively refer to the tools and systems that protect and monetise copyrighted digital material and intellectual property rights. They ensure that the misuse and theft of such content don’t occur, especially over IP pay-TV services that are transmitted over the internet.
Digital content is traditionally protected through encryption, with those who have a secret key being able to decrypt and view the content. However, when it came to light that the key alone wasn’t sufficient to protect content, DRM and other business rules on how, when and by whom a key could be used were introduced. If you’re wondering how to implement DRM, the process remains largely similar regardless of what provider you use:
Here’s how DRM works in OTT:
DRM begins to protect content from the stage when it’s uploaded onto an OTT platform. At this stage, the metadata of the content is collected and safely stored to be retrieved as and when needed — for example, when displaying the content details on the video platform.
- Encoding and encryption
Right after upload, the digital content is encoded and encrypted using a cryptographic key. This can be done before or during streaming, depending on the platform. This way, DRM helps to protect content when it’s in transit between the platform server and the client-side.
- Stored and ready for delivery
Encrypted content is stored securely and ready for delivery. To be able to request delivery and playback, a user’s media player will need to have DRM-centric licensing information that is managed and sent out by a DRM license server in order to play the protected content securely and ensure OTT security.
- Authentication and playback
To ensure that only authenticated viewers are able to access protected digital content, there is a mutual certificate exchange between the DRM client and the DRM license server. Thus, the content is released to trusted playback systems alone — many major operating systems and browsers already have such a native trusted client.
Frequently experienced DRM and OTT challenges
- Many and incongruent DRM systems
Ever since OTT became a mainstream alternative to the television over the last few years, quite a number of video-enabled viewing devices have cropped up. While this is highly beneficial for users, it poses a challenge on the DRM front as it could reduce the quality of experience. To make up for the widespread device, operating system and DRM fragmentation, OTT providers must support several DRMs — and the best way to do this is by leveraging a cloud-based multi-DRM service for transparent and unified quality of experience.
- Timely license delivery
DRM license distribution needs to be prompt and incredibly stable to be able to show viewers their requested content within milliseconds. If too much time is taken to deliver the DRM license in question, videos can’t be decrypted and the audience won’t be able to play the content. This could lead to a high and expensive subscriber turnover rate. It’s worth noting that for live events where a vast number of subscribers are watching the same event all at the same time, the scalability and availability of a multi-DRM infrastructure are vital to ensuring a smooth experience.
How to implement multi-DRM systems for a secure OTT video platform
Springing for a multi-DRM cloud service can go a long way in reducing the complexities of back-end applications. It can mitigate the difficulties posed by dynamic applications over a plethora of devices, including smart TVs, set-top boxes, smartphones, tablets, and more.
Multi-DRM is a challenging technology to deal with as it involves various technologies, protocols, and diverse solutions. However, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure compliance and steady use across devices, without hampering the viewership experience.
To ensure that you reap the benefits in terms of costs and success, it is advised to use a multi-DRM company that combines various DRM technologies to provide a single API. Ideally, the multi-DRM service should be compatible with different media-related solutions such as encoders and players in order so that it can be implemented and deployed quickly and efficiently.
Popular DRM platforms that solve the question of how to protect video content
- Microsoft PlayReady
With a device porting package and source code for hardware partners, the Microsoft PlayReady platform is one of the most frequently used DRM platforms out there. It also has a licence server component for fast incorporation into the current infrastructure of a service provider. The technology can be deployed on a variety of mobile devices, set-top boxes, CE hardware and software systems.
- Apple FairPlay
FairPlay protects DRM streaming and playback on iOS on the iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and their various personal computers. It securely delivers streaming media through HTTP live streaming protocol to client computers. This allows service providers, encoding vendors, and content delivery networks to securely encrypt content, share the necessary decryption keys securely, and safeguard playback at all times.
Using free-to-use, standards-based technologies for OTT and CAS services, Widevine allows safe premium content protection. Supporting the highest number of users on the widest number of chipsets, it is currently available on 5 billion devices within the handheld device, laptop and living room device categories.
- Adobe PrimeTime DRM
Adobe Primetime DRM is an OTT DRM solution for video content protection that is Ultraviolet-approved. It is made to be deployed on desktop (including Windows and Mac OS), iOS, Linux, Xbox and other application platforms. This DRM service can not only secure content but also enable scalable business models including subscription, leasing, anonymous and downloadable content.
- Marlin DRM
Marlin DRM is an open-standard content protection system that’s specifically directed at consumer devices and utility. It provides sophisticated copyright management for playing entertainment and general media content (including audio, video, ebooks, and games). It is capable of distributing content over any network or physical media, given than it’s not a proprietary DRM, and can also support flexible business models like Adobe PrimeTIme DRM.
OMA DRM was invented by the Free Mobile Alliance for smartphones and PDAs, but also extends to personal computer clients. With the CMLA trust guidelines, the robust DRM technology helps to develop an interoperable ‘end-to-end trust model’ for delivery of content on mobile phones, PDAs and PCs.
The perks of using a DRM in OTT Industry
1. Spread knowledge about copyrights and intellectual property
The concepts of copyrights and intellectual property rights are a bit abstract for layman content distributors and providers to understand. However, a DRM set-up allows everyone in the loop to understand the importance of these in providing legal media content that rewards both the owner and the distributor in all fairness.
2. Honours license agreements and technologies
A lot of work goes into creating video content, and exposing them to piracy and misuse can go against license agreements and wreak havoc on revenues. DRM streaming systems help to uphold such agreements through the positive use of technology.
3. Protects income streams
DRM services allow the right people to benefit from the successes of any content on any video platform. This helps them safeguard their revenue streams and prevent third parties from misusing and reaping the benefits of their content.
4. Restricts copying, lending and unethical file-sharing
Safeguarding content being transmitted over the internet restricts the chances of the content being copied, lent and distributed without the right permissions. It also restricts unethical file-sharing to unknowing viewers, and this helps keep the OTT system fair and equal.
5. Helps set parental controls
DRM systems allow parents to regulate what their child watches such that they aren’t exposed to any untoward content that isn’t age-appropriate.
6. Controls access to sensitive information
Implementing DRM systems keep private and confidential information away from the hands of hackers and phishermen. This ensures that both content distributors and users have an agreeable experience on the OTT.
7. Improves brand value
Using DRM services ensures that viewers understand the importance of safety and intellectual rights to the platform owner. This spearheads trust, accountability and transparency, and convinces more people to make use of legal OTT services that source their content ethically.
The foundation of any powerful content protection policy applied by service providers should be advanced multi-DRM systems. These advanced, system-agnostic solutions are truly the best way forward for OTT industry to maintain content quality, improve usability, and efficiently monetize their premium content in a legal and ethical manner.