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Do you need to worry about digital rights management (DRM)?

Depositphotos_6119968_originalThe great thing about the Internet is how easy it is to find content, and to share it. But with that easy access comes a darker side – piracy. Copyrighted content is copied then given away free or even sold by those that stole it. As a result, the original creator has their work devalued and never receives compensation for the stolen content. Of course I’m talking mostly about creative content, but the concept applies to proprietary corporate content too.

But how big is the problem, and do you really need to worry about it for your content? Well, it’s hard to come up with exact numbers for piracy (the sources don’t advertise!), but estimates say that as much as 24% of global Internet bandwidth is taken up by pirated music, movies, and other content. The amount of money lost by artists and companies totals in the billions.

So do you need to use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to protect your content? Most likely no. There are many ways to enable content protection that don’t involve a full DRM solution. But before we get to those, it will help to see a description of what DRM actually involves beyond content protection. Here’s how Streamingmedia.com describes DRM:

“[T]here are generally four elements: digital rights to manage, encryption, license management, and a DRM-enabled client.”

These four components together ensure that only people with permission to access the content are able to get the content, but also prevent it from being copied or downloaded. The DRM-enabled client usually means a custom application is needed to view the content.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot, it is. Generally a full DRM solution is only needed for distributing content that is heavily licensed or regulated – like Hollywood films. But for most people who have created independent films, music, or other creative content, it isn’t necessary.

We’ve found that a simple password system is adequate for most online streaming projects. You can provide access by giving the login information to your viewers, then they have full access to the content. You can set time limits for access too, if you want to ensure the login information isn’t shared.

Beyond password protection there are more alternatives to using full DRM that are more robust than using a password system. If you want to know more about how to protect your content and what solution might be best for you, we’re here to answer all your questions. Just grab us on live chat, email or phone.

Oliver Burt

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