Why Content Security Matters

Posted 3/12/2012
by Jordan Friedman,

DRM plays a big role in keeping your content safe

Unauthorized access to your video or your partners’ video is a big deal. That’s why content owners throughout the industry go to great lengths to control who gets access, when they get access, and how often.

But not all methods of content security are equal, or more importantly, right for you. thePlatform works closely with the leading content protection technology providers to meet a wide range of security requirements.

In its simplest implementation, a single purchase or subscription can enable an end user to access all of the content on your site. But there are a variety of questions to consider regarding how you package your content for end users:

  • Should they be entitled to single video titles, or to groups of content, such as a season of a television series or a particular team’s sporting events?
  • Does a subscription offer unlimited access to the content archive of a single provider?
  • Should some ‘subscriptions’ only offer access to single video titles (pay-per-view events, for example)?

Let’s take a closer look at how content can be restricted.

The Role of Rights

Rights define how your audience may use your content. The exact set of supported Rights options are specific to the Digital Rights Management (DRM) system that you use. Protected media playback works in two phases: identification and license acquisition.

Once a user has been identified, they must then acquire a license to initiate playback. The identification phase requires user identification and may include device identification. In the license acquisition phase, an authenticated user requests authorization to receive a license that enables protected media playback.

During the processing of the eligibility phase, the entitlement will apply to one or more of the requirements described above. Additionally, the scope may identify a specific playback format, which can impose additional content limits for either technical or marketing reasons—eg. only allow access to the high-definition versions, depending on the user’s subscription attributes.

DRM and thePlatform Player Dev Kit (PDK)

The PDK has features that enable playback of media protected by different types of DRM systems.

These features are available in plug-ins that handle the following aspects of a protected media flow:

  • User login and authentication
  • Device registration and management
  • Protected media license acquisition and file decryption

Note: The plug-ins that are required for an environment are specific to the implementation.

Let’s take a look at a few of the major content protection solutions available.

Adobe Flash Access

Adobe Flash Access encrypts Flash FLV and F4V video files, which can then be streamed or downloaded to Microsoft® Windows®, Apple® Mac OS®, Linux®, and Android® platforms, and enforces business models such as online video rental. Consumers can enjoy high-quality content at their convenience, whether they are online or offline.

thePlatform’s Entitlements System integrates with Flash Access for content packaging and license generation. Data from a Rights object is used to fashion the policy that sets the restrictions enforced by the Flash Player.

The PDK can play content protected with Flash Access. It ships with four distinct plug-ins that work in conjunction with content that has been processed and protected using thePlatform’s Entitlements workflow. The plug-ins work within the player component and prompt the user to download any additional software necessary to view the protected content. Once the additional software has been installed and credentials provided, the user can play media to which they’re entitled.

To learn more, check out the Adobe Accesspartner page.

Microsoft PlayReady

Microsoft PlayReady supports a wide range of business models for digital content providers, including:

  • Subscription: Provides access to an entire catalog of content in exchange for a recurring fee.
  • Purchase: Offers content for purchase and download.
  • Pay Per View: Provides pay-per-view choices for all content types.
  • Rental: Enables rental scenarios with time-based licenses.

Just as with Flash Access, thePlatform’s Entitlements System integrates with PlayReady for content packaging and license generation, and the PDK supports playback of PlayReady-protected content.
The PlayReady and Identity plug-ins prompt the user to provide any necessary credentials, and then the user can play media to which they’re entitled, assuming they have Silverlight player version 4 or later.

To learn more about Microsoft PlayReady, check out their sitepartner page.

Other DRM solutions

thePlatform also provides a base level of support for Widevine, Windows Media DRM, and Marlin.

Alternatives to DRM

Akamai, the leading Content Delivery Network (CDN), offers secure streaming as a lighter-weight alternative to DRM that meets the content protection requirements of many customers. Akamai SecureHD provides multi-layered security for live and on-demand streaming that can be used together or independently across each of the supported runtimes to protect against the most common threats to content.

Adobe Flash Media Server supports a SWF verification feature that restricts media download to pre-approved SWF files. This feature requires special coordination with your content delivery network, but it does provide a means to restrict video playback to only those applications and sites that you grant access.

A Ready-Made Solution

Regardless of how you want to control access to your content, thePlatform and our partners have likely solved the challenge for you already.

Jordan Friedman, Sr. Manager, Business Development
August 3, 2011


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