• October, 4 2019
  • by Ascentspark Software


As you proceed to launch your Video Streaming or VOD service or company, you are faced with a number of factors which demand your consideration immediately – the rights management of your video content, or content protection, being one of them. It plays a decisive role in the effective monetization strategy for premium digital publishers, and is very closely associated with the management, processing, and distribution of your content.

There are two fundamental angles to handling the rights to your VOD content:

  • In case you are not in possession of the total rights over the video content, you will be having to conform to the rights that you have acquired from the creator of it
  • You will need to ensure that only the people possessing the rights to access the VOD content can do so, and none of the others

This should not be too difficult. There are tools that can be found – or developed – for assisting you in managing the rights that you wield over your video content.

These tools shall be regulating:

  • Which regions / areas your VOD content can be shown / streamed in
  • The duration through which the rights to having your video content streamed shall continue in each of the areas where it is featured

The size and complexity of your content library can play a very significant role here. There are some high-power providers, and tools that are available in the market which can incorporate directly with your technology, and service providers, as your content proceeds forward. For new entrants in the video streaming field, the content structures and rights of whom are uncomplicated in comparison to others’, there are several low-tech options available, that work well enough, too.

Your processing or management partner can advise you regarding the most efficient solution that you can avail, and also the type of system that you might want.

The back-end systems would require to know where, and when your content can be accessed – after which you should move your attention to ensuring that this is implemented.

In the event of a Free Service – be it funded through advertisements, or any other source of revenue – you will be needed to ensure:

  • Making your content available to the consumers
  • Making sure that your content can avoid getting pirated
  • Being aware of regional rights restrictions

In case your VOD service is Pay, or Restricted Access, it will be your responsibility to take care that your content can ONLY be accessed by those users that possess rightful access to it. You can bring the following technologies into operation for supporting this:

1. DRM / Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management can give you the greatest degree of control to exercise over your content’s viewability.

You can also have a number of DRM Systems to choose from, and you must have heard of the common DRM providers, too, by now – being in this VOD business.

Here is a quick overview of some popular DRM Technology Providers:

Apple FairPlay – Only supported in the products of Apple, FairPlay has to have a direct relationship with Apple as a registered developer. The AES-128 encryption algorithm is used by FairPlay in CBC mode. It can be either in MPEG2 Transport Stream, or, in more recent times, fragmented MP4 containers. Also, FairPlay can be used only for streaming HLS video. One thing more: FairPlay does not provide offline capabilities, licensing windows, and other such advanced rights management. These, however, are provided by other technologies, and out of the box, too. FairPlay does give you some extra degree of flexibility, but its implementation is more complex than others’.

Google Widevine – There are two versions of Google’s Widevine – Classic, and Modular. Google has end-of-lifed Widevine Classic, and it shall not be receiving new functionality. Basically seen in Asia in legacy devices, Widevine Classic is not much used in the US. Requiring a proprietary format of packaging, Widevine Classic is not much used outside of older Android devices (pre Kitkat/4.4).

Widevine Modular has succeeded Widevine Classic. It can be deployed with MPEG-DASH with CENC on the web. It is broadly compatible with Microsoft PlayReady, as they use the same renditions, are packaged in the same fragmented MP4 containers, and are also encrypted with the same AES-128 in CBC or CTR mode. Hardware security is supported by Widevine, thereby allowing accelerated decryption, reduction of CPU usage, and enabling the playback of Ultra High Definition content on such devices that would otherwise not be able to make this possible.

Microsoft PlayReady – We have just spoken about its similarities with Widevine Modular. Microsoft PlayReady is a DRM that is among the most implemented ones.

PlayReady makes possible:

  • Offline viewing capabilities
  • Sophisticated rights management
  • Pre-distribution of licenses
  • Rental windows which cause licenses to expire after a certain period post they are accessed the first time

DRM technologies differ from other modes of content protection in terms of

  • UX
  • Complexity
  • Compatibility
  • Feature set
  • Price.

Your delivery platform, or the device used by you can impose restrictions over your choices. If you operate an extensive VOD / video streaming service, it might even be necessary for you to use a couple of DRM systems.

Your platform partner might operate this – if you work with one. Your content processing partner might need to integrate with the platform partner you work with.

DRM technologies are used for protecting content. DRM technologies also ensure that content can be accessed ONLY by the ones who have the right to accessing it.

The process of Encryption is brought into use for protecting the content in all DRM systems. The ‘Key Management’ associated with the decryption keys needed for access to the content has some added on, advanced protection in place around itself.

2. Encryption The Data Encryption System (DES) that had been outdated has been replaced by modern encryption algorithms. These play a very important role in keeping IT systems, and communications safe.

Such algorithms bring about key security initiatives such as

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity – To prove that the contents of a message have not been tampered with since it had been dispatched
  • Authentication – To verify where a message originates
  • Non-repudiation – To ensure that a message’s sender cannot deny having sent that message

Data, that is also known as Plaintext, is converted into Ciphertext when it undergoes encryption with an encryption algorithm, and key. This Ciphertext can be viewed the way it was in its original form, only when the right key has it decrypted.

HLS AES Encryption, and MPEG-CENC ClearKey can provide content with a superior degree of protection.

These content protection technologies scramble the video with AES-128 algorithm in either CBC mode for HLS, or CTR mode, for DASH.

There are several advantages of Encryption:

  • There are no extra costs involved in the implementation of Encryption, beyond the charges for the implementation itself
  • In the case of HLS, Encryption can be implemented as sample-HLS. As such, some segments of a video get encrypted, which makes watching the video totally impossible, or very difficult – and it uses fewer resources for this
  • Encrypted content cannot be viewed unless one has access to the decryption keys.

Encryption can be added even to that VOD content which can be accessed for free. Though it is a much simpler solution than a complete DRM system, a DRM system is advised to be considered and organized in case of video content that is of high-value. Encryption of content, in the maximum number of cases – with the exception of certain industry sectors, that is – needs to be implemented for making sure that the VOD content, once made available publicly, is impossible to get pirated.

3. Geo-Blocking

The technique of Geo-Blocking is brought into use for preventing people outside of specific geo regions from accessing specified content. Virtual Private Networks / VPNs can often bypass this, though.

Geo-Blocking is strongly recommended in case yours is a D2C service. Platforms operate the Geo-Blocking system often as a part of their job. Your Content Delivery Network can usually be trusted to handle Geo-Blocking effectively, too.

We have an end to end solution for content publishers – to publish, monetize, and protect your content. Contact us for a free consultation and demo to make a customized solution to help your video streaming business.

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