Digital Rights Management
Digital rights management (DRM) is a term for access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to limit the use of digital content. The term is used to describe any technology that inhibits the use of digital content that is not desired or intended by the content provider. The term does not generally refer to other forms of copy protection, which can be circumvented without modifying the file or device, such as serial numbers or keyfiles.
Digital rights management software prevents the consumer from copying content or converting it to other formats. With the growth of digital media and analog/digital conversion technologies, the need for DRM has vastly increased. It is particularly important for companies concerned with copyrights, namely the music and movie industries, who are partly or wholly dependent on the revenue generated from their work. This is due to the fact that it has become more and easier for consumers to convert or ‘rip’ media (which may or may not be copyrighted). The popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing tools have also created copyright challenges for content creators. It has made unauthorized distribution of copyrighted digital media (also called digital piracy) much easier.
DRM technologies enable content publishers to enforce their own access policies on content, like restrictions on copying or viewing.
Some of the DRM methods most used include:
As with many platform technologies, digital right management software is quite fragmented in the desktop, OTT and mobile space. Keeping up with new devices, new platforms and new circumvention methods, as well as varying end-user technologies, provides a challenge for content creators. The rapid spread of the new HTML5 video format is also complicating a single reliable DRM system to meet the copyright holder requirements. While it would be ideal to have a unified DRM technology that can cover the widest range of use cases, there is not one universal platform for all devices and not one common standard. However, the most widely used content protection tools in the online video space are the following:
Widevine DRM is a recently acquired by Google developer of content protection solutions. Its popularity is due to the support of a broad range of consumer devices (TVs, game consoles, Android, iOS devices).
Microsoft PlayReady is a successor of Windows Media DRM, one of the first content protection schemes. It is installed on most of Connected TV devices (LG, Samsung, etc.) Windows operating systems, Windows mobile and Xbox.
Encrypted Media Extensions
This API based encryption scheme is not tied to any specific vendor or DRM scheme, and has become an emerging means of encrypting HTML5 video, including adaptive bitrate video within HTML5.
When selecting the ideal DRM converter for your needs, one thing that is critical is choosing a content protection solution that supports a range of consumer devices. Each protocol has its own priority of consumer platforms:
|wdt_ID||HTML5 Browsers||PlayReady||Widevine Modular||Widevine Classic||FairPlay||Access (Primetime)||Marlin||CMLA-OMA|
|2||Firefox (38+ on Windows)||no||no||no||no||yes||no||no|
|3||Internet Explorer (11+ on Windows 8.1+)||yes||no||no||no||no||no||no|
|4||Microsoft Edge (Windows 10+)||yes||no||no||no||no||no||no|
|5||Safari (8+ on OS X)||no||no||no||yes||no||no||no|
|wdt_ID||Mobile||PlayReady||Widevine Modular||Widevine Classic||FairPlay||Access (Primetime)||Marlin||CMLA-OMA|
|5||castLabs Video Player SDKs||no||yes||no||no||no||no||yes|
|wdt_ID||Set-top Boxes & Casting||PlayReady||Widevine Modular||Widevine Classic||FairPlay||Access (Primetime)||Marlin||CMLA-OMA|
|6||Amazon Fire TV||yes||no||no||no||no||no||no|
The key differences between the various digital rights management solutions involve supporting the above platforms. In addition to supported devices (as well as containers and codecs), when choosing the right DRM solution for your needs you may also want to consider user experience and content delivery methods.