How DRM solutions protect video assets against piracy through encryption keys

Securing premium videos against piracy is part of a well-developed security ecosystem. The rise of OTT streaming services has brought the focus on this security mechanism. No major production house allows their video content to be released on an OTT platform that does not include top-class security features, like digital rights management (DRM), forensic watermarking, anti-screen capture, etc.

While video encryption has existed for a long time. Even when premium video content was sold through optical discs, media companies were able to enforce video encryptions. However, pirates routinely obtained encryption keys to break the encryption algorithm and make high-quality videos available in the piracy market.

With the arrival of OTT streaming, delivery of DRM protected content to the user device became the norm. It solves the problem of unsecure ways of delivering encryption keys to the client, though it has other uses too, like optimizing subscription plans per device. A video multi-DRM software or SaaS not only encrypts the video asset, it creates a system to verify the user before the encryption key can be invoked to decrypt the file blocks. It hides the encryption key behind the content decryption module (CDM), which can be accessed only through Encrypted Media Extensions, popularly known by their acronym EMEs.

The multi-DRM vendors also use extra security features, like video watermarking and anti-screen capture, alongside applying DRM. Each video asset needs more than one DRM layer due to device and browser fragmentation in the OTT market. The major DRM technology providers include Google, which provides the Widevine DRM solution and supports Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers, Android TV, and Chromecast; Apple FairPlay DRM solution, which supports Mac Safari, iOS Safari, and iOS App; and, Microsoft PlayReady DRM solution, which supports Edge browser in Windows.

It is important to note that as Google and Apple between them cover most mobile devices, applying Widevine and FairPlay DRM solution to each video asset can make it secure and playable in most devices. However, content owners also use other proprietary DRM systems, particularly on self-hosted servers, when they want to build their own video libraries.