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SMW '19: BuyDRM CEO Christopher Levy Talks Lifecycle DRM

See more videos from Streaming Media West at the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: This is Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor with Streaming Media magazine and founding executive director of the not-for-profit HelpMe! Stream. Here at Streaming Media West 2019 with Christopher Levy and Christopher, I think this is the second interview we've done together. We did one at East.

Christopher Levy: We did. We did and oddly enough, Eric and I have been going back and forth on this, but I believe this is the 21st Streaming Media West.

Tim: It very well could be.

Christopher: And it would be the 20th Streaming Media West but the 21st anniversary of Streaming Media West.

Tim: Interesting, cause it would have been ninety--

Christopher: Eight.

Tim: '98 in San Jose at the Enery Convention Center?

Christopher: I think that was '99. I thought '98 was in the Hyatt in San Francisco, but I believe it was in the Hyatt of San Francisco. It was literally just four vendors on each side of a line, you know, encoding.com, RBN.

Tim: Well, you know what? That actually reminds me of like the 2002 one in the Javits.

Christopher: Yeah.

Tim: After it went big and then went down and then started to rise again. Scott Grizzle and I--

Christopher: Elvis Costello played that show, remember that?

Tim: Yeah, exactly. Scott Grizzle and I were talking about the Bill Gates one at the McEnery and that was back when the, I think it was the Hyatt St. Clair across the street there. And back before they put the parking deck in so there was a place where they would freeze it over so you could go ice skating.

Christopher: Ice skating. Yeah.

Tim: In the winter arena so how times have changed--

Christopher: Quite a bit. Yeah, the warrior.

Tim: So you did a, you hosted a networking launch. Thank you for doing that.

Christopher: Oh, it was fabulous.

Tim: DRM is your thing. That is what you do. First of all tell the audience what DRM is.

Christopher: Well, Digital Rights Management, it's just, very simply a technology to prevent unauthorized access to streaming videos in a nutshell and DRM is just a shell around a video and to access the video, you need a key to open it.

Tim: And that's the consumer side of it. Is there a lifecycle or a supply-chain flow where DRM needs to be used in other areas?

Christopher: Yeah. So we have been kind of big on this topic lately about lifecycle DRM and understanding the lifecycle, and we've started to learn more and more that the gaps between the creation and the consumption of media are pretty significant and, as you well know, there's a lot of despair at technologies both broadcast, internet, hybrids, wireless, in between those two, and so the idea is that by using DRM more pervasively, let's say, you know, the content leaves the studio and goes to the post house, there's a gap. Post house to the encoding company, there's a gap. Encoding company to the OVP, there's a gap. OVP to the CDN, there's a gap. CDN to the user, there's a gap. And all of those places are an opportunity to kind of use a more holistic approach and just apply DRM as much as possible along that lifecycle of your video.

Tim: Sort of like the chain of evidence with--

Christopher: Like a chain of custody or--

Tim: Yeah, a chain of custody.

Christopher: It's very similar. And now the opportunity didn't exist several years ago. But now because DRM is becoming more pervasive and more and more toolsets support it, The dream or the vision of doing this is becoming real. It will take a little time but it's becoming very real. Yeah.

Tim: Interesting. So you mentioned before we went on the air, Rakuten, is that--

Christopher: Yeah. So Rakuten Viki. So Rakuten Viki is a, um... It started as a Korean video via D-Site and just to cut to the chase, the interesting thing about it is that all of their movies, the users can subtitle them in their different languages and dialects so they have, for each movie, they have about 85 different languages or dialects and in some cases over 100 dialects so it's a very awesome model where users actually make the content consumable for them by using their own knowledge of the language to create the subtitles.

Tim: Is this similar to the model that like Japanese Mangas are translated into--

Christopher: Yeah.

Tim: Multiple--

Christopher: Yeah.

Tim: Okay.

Christopher: They have a very sophisticated subtitling system and users who are members of the site, they get their own little account and they can go in and create their own version of the movie and then later when users come back, they select their default language or dialect and it's made available for them.

Tim: And how does DRM fit into all those multiple-subtitling products?

Christopher: Well, Viki, operates in like 13 different countries in Asia, and there's a lot of desperate types of networks and phones and systems there as well, mostly Android-based. So as a result, there's a little more opportunity for piracy, and so Viki, they also take content from a lot of the majors. So they have an obligation to treat it like a BBC iPlayer would or a Netflix would.

Tim: From a geographic standpoint.

Christopher: Yeah, yeah.

Tim: Interesting. And then, one other thing Hunter had sent me a message and said to ask you about this.

Christopher: Oh, boy.

Tim: As the sole studio- mandated technology in the OTT marketplace, how was DRM enabling consumers to purchase and view content on platforms like iTunes, is Roku--

Christopher: Yeah. I mean, that's a loaded question obviously but the answer--

Tim: Well, of course, you're probably satisfied.

Christopher: And, you know, the answer is pretty simple. The thing that DRM's doing for consumers is it's enabling them that when you go to Netflix and you go to the Downloads button to download movies and take 'em on your iPad and go on an airplane and not be subject to a small screen or bad Wifi. Same thing on a cruise ship or in your hotel room. DRM is allowing people to basically take possession of content like they always wanted to, but also still have the rights enforced and in a manner that's transparent to the user. It doesn't obstruct their experience. You know, it doesn't create a bad experience and so I think you're seeing iTunes and Netflix and Hulu and a lot of the big operators, they want to move in that direction too because of their CDN costs. They would like to move all that offline because storage and memory are getting cheaper and cheaper and let the consumer bear the burden of storing it.

Tim: You got it.

Christopher: So that's the trend in the business right now around that, yeah.

Tim: Christopher, as always great to have you on air and--

Christopher: Thank you, Tim.

Tim: We'll be right back.

Christopher: Bye.

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