What Is Digital Rights Management?

digital rights management

The shift from DVDs to digital streaming options was undeniably groundbreaking for content providers. Given the immediacy of streaming, content is vastly more accessible to audiences. This, in turn, has boosted the demand for more content and created expansive opportunities for distributors. But at the same time, video piracy is also thriving, raising the need for digital rights management (DRM) software.

DRM technology controls access to online content. Its design aims to strengthen the provider’s oversight and security capabilities for their video library. As a result, content providers can prevent unauthorized use of their videos.

Clearly, the implications of this technology are exciting for video content management system (CMS) owners. However, to truly understand the potential that DRM software can bring to over-the-top (OTT) distribution, we first need to explore the current usage strategies, potential challenges, and future trends of the technology.

Understanding Digital Rights Management

Content rights management procedures have varied greatly over time. Copy-protected floppy disks were once the industry’s security standard. But content providers need a more sophisticated way to prevent copyright infringement in the digital age.

DRM is hardware and software that OTT streaming platforms can use to modernize their content management platform systems. Simply put, these digital rights management technologies control how content is used or shared to prevent piracy.

The technology works in two ways: by encrypting content during user interactions like streaming or downloading and by managing license requests. DRM software with domain controllers can even manage multiple devices under the same license by tracking use. What’s more, the DRM-capable player communicates with the platform to determine if the requested content is properly licensed. This ensures that only authorized playbacks are enabled.

These security measures work in tandem to protect content providers’ intellectual property during the distribution process. As a result, they prevent potentially significant losses from theft. After all, customers won’t pay for videos that are available on the web for free.

man and woman sitting on couch in living room watching video content on a TV digital rights management
Photographer: Gorodenkoff

DRM Software Solutions for Content Providers

There are many digital rights management software for content providers to choose from. The main difference between these options is the availability or integration of specific features. To narrow down their lists of potential options, content providers should select solutions with the key features they need to secure their CMS for video distribution.

Consider these DRM features when you’re searching for a solution to integrate with a video CMS:

  • Sharing Standards Compatibility: Distribution is inherently guided by a set of protocols and standards that determine how sharing or encryption is done online. So, providers should first find DRM solutions that match their applicable protocols and standards.
  • Limited Install Activation: This feature sets a hard limit on the number of devices that a software package can be installed on at the same time.
  • Integration: It’s important to select DRM software that can seamlessly work with existing IT infrastructure such as CMS platforms to avoid commissioning expensive application programming interfaces (APIs).
  • Regional Lockout: This feature is essential for international content providers. It enables geo-blocking, which limits video access to certain regions.
  • Tracking and Analytics: The ability to track distribution across channels is critical to optimizing content monetization. Providers can track the financial performance of their advertising-based (AVOD), transactional (TVOD), or subscription video on demand (SVOD) streaming options to increase the margins on their content.

Securing Content With DRM

Unfortunately, even with the protection of a DRM system, you can’t completely eliminate piracy. In fact, even with the widespread use of digital rights management among the best OTT platforms, providers still lose 20% of potential revenue generated through video content to piracy.

So, it’s financially imperative that distributors create the most secure digital environment possible. After all, unprotected video libraries can easily end up available for free online.

However, this added emphasis on protecting intellectual property can’t come at the expense of the user experience. Otherwise, a platform may see a decrease in viewership due to overly complicated user interfaces.

The key to content distribution is to balance the ease and convenience of the viewer with the necessary security measures brought by DRM solutions. To achieve this goal, you must ensure that authorized devices and channels have seamless access to content.

four people sitting on a couch watching video content on a phone digital rights management
Photographer: bbernard

Future Trends in DRM

As with any emerging technology, the solution lies in adapting to the growing needs of the market. Digital rights management software is still improving their efficacy and capabilities to boost their already significant impacts. To better understand the benefits of DRM systems, it’s important to factor in current trends.

First, the most prominent trend is that of widespread integration. The technology is increasingly becoming an industry standard. This is because it’s proven itself to be a fundamental component of preventing content theft.

Multi-DRM software solutions are also growing in popularity. They combine security solutions across channels and content types to form a comprehensive protection strategy. However, one of the most exciting trends in DRM systems is artificial intelligence (AI) integration.

For instance, DRM software can leverage AI to automate monitoring. This technology greatly increases providers’ capacity to catch and resolve potential infringements as they occur. While AI integrations are still new, they could be the missing piece that finally reduces digital piracy to a more financially manageable level for distributors.

Embracing Comprehensive Digital Rights Management

The digital environment has given distributors greater access to massive audiences. However, it has also provided hackers with increased access to providers’ content libraries. Unfortunately, this two-way street can have a significant impact on the profit margins generated from content. But DRMs—while still in development—are beginning to provide a much-needed solution.

Content providers should integrate a sophisticated digital rights management solution with their CMS for video distribution. Of course, it’s important to ensure that the enhanced security of the DRM system doesn’t hinder the user experience. So, providers should select their CMS carefully.

Video CMS platforms such as dotstudioPRO offer premier OTT streaming with sophisticated content control, monetization, and organization tools built in. Launch a direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming network quickly and cost-effectively to stay competitive in today’s market with dotstudioPRO.

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