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How to Get Started With Digital Rights Management

While Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies have been around for many years, only recently are they starting to find their way into practical business applications. For organizations seeking to leverage their digital media assets over the Web, DRM enables pay-per-view, pay-per-subscription, and user-authentication capabilities on streaming and permanent downloads to increase interactivity with end users and provide for new sources of revenue.

For organizations interested in utilizing DRM, there are two practical paths to consider. One way is to license the technology directly from a company like Microsoft. This involves programming, database management, and Web site integration, and may prove attractive for organizations that already are managing their Web hosting services in-house.

The other option is to outsource to a DRM service provider that licenses these technologies and operates the datacenter environment. Organizations that have outsourced their Web hosting services, will likely find that this makes more economical sense. With outsourcing, organizations can leverage the technical competency of a DRM service provider while eliminating the overhead costs associated with running a 24/7 data center.

If the decision has been made to use a DRM service provider, the next step involves locating a DRM Service Provider that will meet your needs and budget. As DRM services may be applied to downloadable content as well as streaming media, it may make sense to look for a DRM service provider that also specializes in streaming media services. An added benefit in outsourcing DRM services through a streaming media service provider is that some do not charge for the DRM service, but provide it as a value-added feature for their core hosting services.

At PlayStream, a streaming media service provider that offers DRM capabilities, we examined the available technologies in the marketplace before deciding to implement Microsoft's Windows Media DRM 9 platform as part of our core streaming media hosting services. We selected Microsoft's DRM platform based on its excellent security options, rich features, flexible business models, and smooth integration into their popular Windows Media 9 technologies. Because PlayStream provides streaming as well as progressive download content storage spaces in a single account, the DRM technology provided a logical expansion to help our customers leverage the capabilities of our service.

For PlayStream’s customers, DRM now opens up many new ways to deploy digital media. For example, let’s say a music label is currently streaming free sound clips over its Web site to entice its consumers to purchase a music CD online for $9, plus a shipping and handling fee of $3. With DRM, the music label can now offer the option to purchase a downloadable version of the music CD for $9—without charging for shipping and handling—that can be copied to CD.

Not only does the consumer save money on shipping and handling, but the consumer now receives immediate delivery of the product. For skittish consumers who aren’t so sure they want to purchase the disc, the music label can use DRM to offer a three-day license to play back the content for $3.

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