Why DRM is Essential to Protecting Your Video Content in the Age of Online Streaming?

Why DRM is Essential to Protecting Your Video Content in the Age of Online Streaming?



The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation and helped make a “contact-free” life the new normal. In addition to content studios leveraging streaming to develop new business opportunities with applications, such as over-the-top (OTT) media services, online concerts, eLearning, and home fitness, companies in other sectors are also taking their internal and external communications, including training sessions and investor conferences.

However, streaming content online does not equate to the video owner allowing anyone to share or resell the content on the Internet without permission. As not all the streaming platforms on the market have effective content protection mechanisms, video content streamed online is frequently downloaded, forwarded, and even illegally recorded and resold. As an international provider of video streaming solutions, encountered several cases across the Asia-Pacific region where content providers suffered a loss of revenue due to the lack of proper Digital Rights Management (DRM). With years of technical background and industry experience, we would like to share some insights on how implementing content protection with DRM can benefit companies and content creators.

First things first, what is DRM?

DRM, also known as Digital Rights Management, is a system that is designed to  secure copyrighted digital content by restricting the access and usage of the protected content. DRM is consisted of three parts: content encryption, which protects digital content from being illegally accessed by third parties; permission control, which provides download permissions, usage times, and user permissions of digital content in order to avoid unnecessary loss of digital assets; and watermark technology, which can embed information, such as brand logos or employee IDs, into the video to protect the copyright of digital content.

Which type of online video needs DRM?

Common user cases that need DRM to protect video content include:

Internal and external corporate communications that contain confidential content, such as:

  • Market-wide or regional training sessions
  • All-hands meetings
  • Shareholders’ meetings
  • Investor conferences

Online video businesses that profit from online videos, such as:

  • OTT services
  • Online concerts
  • Sporting events
  • eLearning courses
  • Home fitness training

How does DRM work to protect online videos from piracy?

Content encryption is the first line of defense  

According to a 2021 study by the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), 24% of consumers across the region use Internet streaming devices to access pirated streaming channels. The numbers are higher than average in Hong Kong (48%),  Taiwan (3%), and Thailand (53%). Despite efforts from the industry, we can see that video piracy is still a serious issue globally. It also shows that while public streaming platforms are convenient to use, they are also susceptible to a “digital breach” of intellectual property rights as uploaded videos can be pirated and reshared easily.

This is where DRM comes in. The essential part of DRM is encryption technology, which transmits raw video content in an encrypted form when uploading and encoding the video. DRM blocks unauthorized users and players and protects video content from illicit access and distribution.

Access rights management helps ensure the rights of paid users

Whether it is on companies’ internal platforms, online performances, or OTT video platforms, there have been situations where multiple people can log on via a single account at the same time, or that the access information is shared publicly on social platforms. This not only leads to the possibility of confidential internal information being leaked, but also impacts the revenue of content providers, paralyzes the operation of online streaming services, and affects the audience’s experience.

If DRM technology is utilized correctly, access rights to the content can be verified from the beginning. Implementing DRM properly ensures that only authorized users can watch the content through designated video players, but also provides features that can protect the rights of paid users, such as geo-blocking or limiting the number of playback devices.

Hollywood-standard digital protection in place for up-to-date security

Well-known OTT platforms such as Netflix and Disney+ have already implemented DRM technology for many years. In Hollywood, the six major filmmakers, including Warner Brothers and Universal Studios, as well as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, require any video released on streaming platforms to comply with recognized DRM specifications. Several OTT platforms in the APAC region, such as Telasa in Japan and KKTV in Taiwan, have actively adopted Hollywood-level DRM as their standard for content protection in recent years.

On the other hand, if companies develop and maintain the DRM technology themselves, this will take up substantial time and manpower since these standards are updated frequently. The companies also need to ensure that their own DRM technology is compatible with different operating systems and browsers. Fortunately, there are now DRM technologies available on the market that are compatible with the major operating systems and browsers used by consumers today, including Microsoft PlayReady, Google Widevine, and Apple FairPlay.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number and quality of content studios in the APAC region has been growing rapidly. DRM will be able to benefit OTT applications, online performances, online courses platforms, and even companies’ video and audio platforms and effectively protect intellectual property rights. Proper use of DRM can enable the video content industry to reap dividends from the adoption of streaming and benefit from new business opportunities as the world embraces digital transformation.

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