Is there a license / royalty free DRM available for protecting and distributing video content?

  • 10
    The concept of DRM is flawed. It can not stop bad people from copying your content and it alienates legitimate users. – JamesRyan Oct 12 '09 at 11:06
  • 1
    See also this question - superuser.com/questions/14224/how-to-explain-drm-cannot-work - not a duplicate, but related – ChrisF Oct 12 '09 at 11:46
  • @Ek: Totally agree with you. I think it just doesn’t work (which Apple and others have learnt) when distributing content to consumers in general or mass market. However, my requirement is from an enterprise perspective. The company I’m consulting for has media that it wants to protect from its employees copying (read stealing) it. – Saiprasad Oct 12 '09 at 12:27

There are not many use cases where using DRM is a viable practice - there is no way to "enforce" trust and DRM only penalize people that should be trusted ... remember there is no way to protect data from the Analog Hole once you decided to share them with an untrusted party.

Anyway you can always have a look at the DReaM project which is not very active these days (plus, its website does not seem responsive, for me it timeouts 4 times out of 5). You may find some more recent information at openmediacommons.org.

  • This project seems to have disappeared. – harrymc Oct 12 '09 at 11:28
  • See this question - superuser.com/questions/14224/how-to-explain-drm-cannot-work - for more discussion on DRM and why it doesn't work – ChrisF Oct 12 '09 at 11:46
  • @harrymc: It hasn't disappeared, but it is archived because of absence of dev for the last 6 months ... the link i provided is slow and timesouts quite often ... i will edit my post to add a more reliable source – avelldiroll Oct 12 '09 at 11:50
  • @harrymc: Thanks. DReaM project was the only thing I found before posting this question here. Although it’s close to what I’m looking for, I’m a bit uncomfortable in adopting something which is not active in terms of development. – Saiprasad Oct 12 '09 at 12:33
  • The above comment was @avelldiroll. – Saiprasad Oct 12 '09 at 12:49

A freeware DRM scheme won't work in Microsoft's Windows Media Player.
So if you want people to use your content with this player, you need to use Microsoft's own DRM.

You might have a look at Microsoft's Windows Media Rights Manager and its SDK.
Microsoft's Media downloads are here.

The doc give the impression that the SDK is free, but I'm sure that you'll pay something to Microsoft somewhere along the way.

  • 1
    I did look at Microsoft's PlayReady in great detail. And as you've guessed, there’s pretty hefty fee that needs to be paid in order to license it. microsoft.com/playready/licensing/pc_technology.mspx – Saiprasad Oct 12 '09 at 12:44
  • I think you're mistaken: according to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PlaysForSure, Microsoft PlaysForSure is a certification given by Microsoft to portable DEVICES and content SERVICES. Windows Media Licensing Program is here microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/licensing/default.mspx. I didn't manage to find any licensing fees here : microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/licensing/…. – harrymc Oct 12 '09 at 13:13
  • @harrymc: I was referring to PlayReady (kind of equivalent to Apple’s FairPlay) microsoft.com/PlayReady/Default.mspx. PlaysForSure, as you mentioned, is a certification program. PlayReady is the newest iteration of Microsoft’s DRM technologies that’s integrated with Silverlight. This has superseded their earlier version which was called ‘Windows Media DRM’. Anyway, either of them aren't license/royalty free. – Saiprasad Oct 12 '09 at 14:25
  • PlayReady leads me to "PlayReady PC SDK". My links above lead to "WM Rights Manager SDK". These two still don't seem to me like being the same thing. I suggest you follow first my links, since they don't mention any fees. You might also get in touch with a Microsoft counselor that can advice you which is the right product for you. I don't know enough about these products and your problem to give a better advice. – harrymc Oct 12 '09 at 16:28

DRM is encryption. The way encryption works is that you have a key that can open the lock, and that key is given only to people you want to be able to access the content, and kept away from people who you don't want to access it.

The reason that DRM is flawed is that the person you want to access the content and the person you want to keep access from is the same person. It just doesn't make any sense. The only way it sorta-kinda works is that keys are given to a tool that is restricted in its use. But that tool has to keep the key away from the user. In order to use that tool, you have to use a lock that matches one of its keys.

At this point you ask, "why can't I just add my own key?" And you might be able to. But the only way to get that key into the tool is to give it to he person you're trying to keep it away from. It's like asking a burglar to give your housekeys to your roommate for you.