As much as I'd like to protect content on the Internet, I believe it's virtually impossible, outside of copyright laws. Some examples :
1) DRM (Digital Rights Management)
Hollywood and content owners insist on having basically Microsoft DRM's enabled (most other solutions don't have such a waiver from hollywood) in order to agree to let you distribute their catalogue for VOD. Basic problems ?
- it only works on Microsoft (so not for Linux and Mac users)
- it has been proven several times to have flaws
- it can be costly in terms of licences and / or hardware
- does not work on all devices (mobile, IPTV) and restricts distribution to Microsoft-supported devices. Adding DRM solutions from other vendors just adds to the cost of distribution. In the end, the content ends up being to expensive to deal with.
- does not run on Flash... although it might soon on Silverlight (but very low adoption)
The best of all however is that in only takes ONE person in the whole world to either
- film his screen (OK, poor quality)
- hookup his computer's video output to a recording facility (not that difficult)
- record whatever shows up on his screen. On the Mac, snapZproX does it nicely. Camtasia is a solution on a PC.
Steve Jobs wrote about the end of DRM on music a while ago. Indeed 96% of music ships with no DRM, on CDs... Indeed, a while ago I tweeted on how to use Wiretap Pro to just tape any music coming from the net (deezer, spotify, etc.) and turn that into MP3 files for your iPod or portable media players...
Fed up with those region codes on your DVD player ? Just rip it quickly and nicely, with no protection with Handbrake for example. Most DVD players, and newer media centers will then play your file in DivX format or any other kind (use VisualHub for example to transcode to something else).
2) geoIP protection
Most content deals are restricted by territory. You can only watch the BBC content for free in the UK (because the tax payer paid for it there). You can only watch Hulu.com in the US, because that's where they have the rights. Right ?
I was just trying to follow a link of one of the blog posts, and I got a not allowed warning.
Sucks rights ? Not if you set up a proxy (really easy to do, actually I would launch a business like that for a small monthly fee if I had the time), for example with Hotspot shield. Just connect
and you're in business. I actually recorded the screen to show how it's done... I could have put it in full screen, recorded in top quality, etc. Remember: it only takes ONE person to do this, and then send it over to the P2P networks, such as mininova, pirate's bay, isohunt, xtorrent...
By the way, this works just as great and the same for other services. Example1 : hulu.com:
Now this is not to say that it is impossible to moderate UGC content uploaded to public video sharing sites (more difficult but doable on other file sharing services). I recently heard at a conference the CEO of a very large French (read my lips) video sharing site say (and I quote from memory) : "it is impossible for us to moderate the 10,000 videos we get every day. We are trying our best, having signed partnerships with X and Y to do video recognition". That's total BS.
My friends at TUdou.com, the largest video sharing site in China have a huge team moderating every single video uploaded. OF course not for copyright only. But it's doable. At vpod.tv, we have developed technology that allows operators to validate or reject a video in less than 30 seconds. You could hence manage the whole daily upload volume at a site such as youtube.com (#3 worldwide), with about only 100 operators in a call center. That's peanuts compared to the size of customer care centers elsewhere.
and indeed it's so much easier to find out that someone has upload a move or a TV series, you see it immediately...
4) other uses of DRM
DRM is also used to protect against super-distribution, allowing you to play a media file only x number of times, to copy it to z number of times, etc. That's great, and it's bothersome, and sometimes useful. But it only takes ONE person to do any of the above and put it up on the wild, and DRM becomes useless. Think I'm kidding ? DVD Jon has proved it a number of times.
I met with a Chinese company in Beijing 4 years ago. About 3% of their revenues came from selling CDs (only bought by loyal fans). They had reinvented their business model and got their revenues from merchandising, licensing star appearances on TV and concerts. That seems the way to go for me.
Therefore, let's just get rid of DRM and GeopIP protection. The only way to deal with copyright is with a legal system that respects the owners, not with technology. And although creativeCommons is trying to put a new framework in place, it just doesn't work. French media Liberation grabbed a picture I took, not respecting my NonCommercial copyright.
ps: anyone has a good proxy IP address or service for the UK? I really don't want to be renting a server in the UK with a UK IP address and set up squid.
You can then use a specific browser setup with that specific proxy for quick access to your country-specific content (Safari, webkit, a different firefox version, opera)...