This week has been a busy one for me. I’ve had a number of great conversations with my customers and prospects about Digital Rights Management (DRM) and content protection, sharing how implementing Highwinds’ solutions will guard both your content and your bandwidth bill.  Plus, squirrels royally messed up my car.  I wish DRM or Content Protection products could defend my Prius from evil squirrels, but they can’t.  More on that later.

Crazy Squirrel

Digital Rights Management or DRM is a frequently used term in the digital delivery space, but there can be confusion about what it is or does.  One simple way of looking at it is as a method of verifying whether the end-user is allowed to consume your content once they’re already in possession of it.  If your content is music, do they have the right to listen?  If it’s video, do they have the right to watch?  Do they have the right to run your software?

This question is something you may want to ask every single time a user consumes content, or at the very least, ask frequently.  Their rights may have expired or they may be tied to a single device.  The content consumption may even be initiated by someone other than your original customer.

In order to keep asking this question for as long as it is relevant you’ll need an application check into a DRM service. Highwinds CDN works well with most DRM technologies because they enter the picture after the content has already been delivered to the end user.  If you have a preferred DRM solution we are happy to work with you and your provider to help integrate it into an end-to-end solution with our top tier content delivery network.

When you are a content license owner, however, there are actually multiple resources you need to protect. First on your mind is probably the worth of your copyrighted works.  This is clearly important but if you focus solely on the value of your music, videos, software downloads, etc. you may be overlooking the cost of the infrastructure to deliver that content and the fact that delivery is part of your value proposition as well.

If you host a library of digital books based on a multi-vendor DRM scheme, for instance, and you want to maintain a consistent customer experience for every book that has your name attached to it then you don’t want unknown third parties deep linking to your content and bypassing your user experience. DRM won’t prevent people from downloading your files even if it does keep them from being readable by unlicensed users.

Content Protection by Highwinds

Control over the delivery of files is where Content Protection comes in. Using referrer-based, HTTP-Auth based, or token-based authentication; Highwinds can help to ensure that the users who download a file are your users coming in through your approved channels.

Our most popular content protection method, URL signing, contains a hash of several unique identifying characteristics of your end user with a secret keyword so that you can be certain you authorized the download.  This can deter some piracy by preventing initial download by unauthorized users but its’ greatest effect is in saving you bandwidth by rejecting deep links and other illicit access.

So I’m sure at this point you’re asking yourself what any of this has to do with my totaled Toyota. The answer is that I, as the proud owner of high-tech digital asset that has been completely devalued by the unauthorized access of malicious users, understand all too well the need to protect your important assets.  Apparently squirrels like hanging out in nice warm engine compartments when it gets cool out, and they’ll chew on anything they can dig their teeth into.

They chewed up the wiring to my hybrid battery computer and the battery itself died.  On a pure internal combustion engine car the rewiring would be an expensive problem but on an older Prius it caused an issue that costs more to repair then the car is worth. If only I had a good solution to prevent unauthorized squirrels accessing my engine wiring =/

Bradley Andrews

By Bradley Andrews, Product Director

For Highwinds customers or others interested in more of the “how to” of using Content Protection, click here.