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Saving Streaming

In most streaming applications, the streamed content never touches the end user’s hard drive. If you’re going to allow end users to store your content on their machines, then you might as well offer them the higher image resolution and audio fidelity that typically accompanies downloaded files. But that doesn’t mean that the ability for end users to save streaming doesn’t have a place or a purpose. In fact, it’s already found a niche in the surveillance market and may become a necessity for multi-camera Webcasts, as well as film production, in the very near future.

Saving streaming has some potentially significant ramifications in the world of premium digital content. Literally dozens of programs have popped up that allow for the recording and archiving of streamed content. With no clear-cut way of implementing file-level DRM protection, many premium content owners will most likely see these recorders as yet another roadblock on the path to secure monetization of their digital assets.

For enterprises with sensitive content to disseminate, the most effective way to protect that content is often the most basic: access control. There are streaming providers who can practically guarantee that your content can’t be stolen, but these solutions typically require proprietary players (and sometimes codecs) that increase costs and can limit a company’s growth options due to future cross-compatibility issues. On the other hand, one could argue that most streamed enterprise content isn’t of the most sensitive variety. Plus, a number of these streaming initiatives are running on shoestring budgets and have to always be cognizant of the ROI. In many ways, simple passwords still offer the most efficient, flexible, and cost-effective way to ensure that the only people getting to your content are those that you trust not to sleep with the enemy.

Some content providers are unwittingly already making their content easily downloadable by enabling "streaming" via HTTP. Technically speaking, you can’t stream via HTTP; if you try, what you’re doing instead is offering a link to a progressive download, which automatically saves the content to a hard drive. "There’s a huge misconception in the market about this," says StreamingMedia.com executive vice president Dan Rayburn. Service providers will sometimes enable this HTTP link to ease the transfer of files through a firewall.

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