Earlier this month it was revealed that Adobe was ceasing development of its Flash Player for mobile devices. While they’ve committed to supporting existing installations with critical bug and security fixes, and some companies who have licensed the source code (notably RIM) have announced plans to continue developing the product, it seems clear that HTML5 and custom applications will be the route forward for enhancing the mobile experience.
The challenge here is that HTML5 video doesn’t support several key features that many content owners prefer, including streaming and digital rights management, or DRM.
As things stand today, if you want to allow access to video through a website, if you don’t use Flash to present it in a streaming format that permits the use of DRM, your content is easily downloadable by anyone who can watch it.
And yes, that means that if you want iPad and iPhone users (as well as what’s soon to be most mobile device users) to be able to watch your stuff through their web browser, you, your legal team, and your executives need to be prepared for the idea that this media won’t be fully under your control.
Our take? Video on the web just got an excuse to open up. Just like with music, content holders will gradually shift their content to either being open on the web or coralled in an app.
And to be clear, the ability to actually download this content, no matter how “openly available” it is, is limited to a very small subset of the population with the technical chops and the desire to download it, and chances are they already know how to find it through a torrent and so on.
Now, if you have video content that you need to have some additional control over, you do have a few options left to you.
The first is a dedicated app. This adds friction to your process, because your audience needs to download it first before they can start watching, and it requires special programming skills as well that might not be in the range of your organization (and full disclosure: it’s not an area that we’re looking to develop at Thrust Labs, so we can’t help with that, sorry!)
The next option is personalized video encoding, which is where we think things are going in this area. In this scenario, each video has extra data added to it that can be tied back to a unique viewer, so if the content does leak out, the source can be easily identified. This has been done with DVD screeners in the past and forensic watermarking solutions currently exist for web video by companies like Civolution.
And, of course, you can still use Flash combined with RTMPE streaming, Akamai token exchange, and desktop browsers.
The bottom line:
- There’s no way to securely deliver video over the mobile web.
- If someone wants your content badly enough, they’ll get it.
- Look to apps or watermarking if you want greater security.
At Thrust Labs, we’ve been working with MiView, a leader in secure, invitation-based video delivery to develop many aspects of their platform. Let us put some of that expertise to work for you by developing the right video delivery platform that balances your needs to be seen with your concerns about your intellectual property: get in touch today!