ExpressPlay: Making it Easy to Distribute Professional Content

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By Anahita Poonegar

As bandwith costs have greatly decreased in tandem with the spread of low cost cloud computing, the Internet application industry has entered into a phase of great democratization. The amount of capital needed to start up an Internet service of most any type is now very low. These days it is not unusual to run into a professional startup run by just a few employees and financed by passing the hat out to “friends and family” and recurring revenue. This could be true of online video distribution as much as any other service, but with one major one major caveat. If you want to distribute professionally produced video content, there are still some high barriers compared to other types apps. One of the major barriers is the need for content protection, and Intertrust’s new ExpressPlay DRM Service is designed to help small and medium-sized companies solve that conundrum.

Content Protection: steps to take

If you want to distribute professionally produced video content, the chances are very high that you will be required by your content partners to protect the content. This entails a wide variety of actions which may not be obvious at first. Here some steps you’ll need to take to make it happen:

  • At its core, content protection is a security technology but in this case, you don’t get to choose which one you will use. You will need to select a technology approved by your content partners. This means you will only be able to choose from amongst a limited number of technologies and if it is proprietary, well you have to follow their development path.
  • Not only will you need to make sure your client software support the content protection technology, your client software will also need to be “hardened.” This means you will need technology to protect the actual software code itself so it can’t be attacked to gain unauthorized access to the content as it passes through the client. Think of all the different clients you will need for each different platform you support and consider that you will have to do this process for each one.
  • Content protection can be described as a secure “wrapper” in which you place the content. One key part of this wrapper are the tokens which dictate under what conditions the content can be accessed. Each credential needs to be created separately, so you have to be able to generate, track and audit these tokens. Oh, you also have to pay for them as well.
  • There is also, of course, the matter of actually packaging the video content with the content protection. To do this, you will need to integrate the packaging process into your content distribution workflow.
  • To put all of these parts together, often you will need to create a custom built solution. Of course, since you are being entrusted with valuable content, you need to show that the proper security and procedures are in place as well. Given the complexity involved, most likely you will need to bring a third-party consultant to get everything set up and running.

So, does this sound like “fun?” Given all the barriers involved, it’s no wonder many smaller Internet video distribution services choose to just work with user generated content or content from lesser known entities which don’t require content protection. Not that there is anything wrong with this sort of content of course, but it does introduce limitations to your service and business model.

ExpressPlay DRM service to the Rescue

ExpresPlay DRM service is designed to help organizations of all sizes overcome these sorts of barriers. Like most 21st century computing services, ExpressPlay largely resides in the cloud and is designed to be as flexible and easy to use as other cloud computing services. You sign up online, get a 30 day free account to try it out and beyond that, there’s a variety of low cost packages for purchasing tokens to meet your needs.

While ExpressPlay is designed to be as simple as possible to set up and use through the use of standard Web APIs, there is still some work you need to do locally. ExpressPlay supports the open standard based Marlin content protection technology  used by major content distributors around the world, so your app needs to support Marlin as well. If you don’t already support Marlin, ExpressPlay provides a free SDK for use with iOS and Android clients with a web player for personal computers coming soon. This SDK also includes access to Cryptanium, Intertrust’s industry leading software hardening technology. When working with the SDK, quite often all you need to do is just add a few lines of code to your app. There is also a piece of software you need to add to your backend system to package the content correctly, but this can be integrated with minimal work.

The ExpressPlay SDK

ExpressPlay is designed to remove the barriers to distributing professionally produced content and make it easier for organizations of all sizes to be able to innovate in video distribution. If you have a great idea, just jump right in and sign up here.