Digital Rights Management Software: What is it and how does it work?

Sai Naresh
Published in
9 min readMar 24, 2021


Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems provide you the ability to control how people can consume your content. It is a methodical process of protecting copyrights for digital content and sets bounds on ways how consumers can clone the content that they buy.

Digital Rights Management
Digital Rights Management

The unrivaled reach of the internet and the advancement of technological trends have driven digital innovation virtually at every corner of the media industry.

From music streaming apps to the current video streaming platforms, the way content is consumed has radically changed.

Every aspect of media distribution has become more streamlined in the manner in which we purchase.

For example, Movies, books, and music are now replaced with on-demand services.

Hackers are using more advanced methods to access online content, like content tampering, deep linking, cache stealing, link sharing, and much more.

So, do you think content security is important in the streaming industry?

Yes, the protection of digital content is of utmost priority as most of the digital media industries today are losing their revenue due to content piracy and unauthorized file sharing.

So, what is the solution for content protection?

There are a few important digital content protection solution, like:

  • Digital Watermarking
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM)
  • Access Management
  • Server Side Security and firewall

But DRM stands out best amongst all in content protection so, let’s dig deep into Digital Rights Management.

What is Digital Rights Management DRM?

It is a methodical process of protecting copyrights for digital content and sets bounds on ways how consumers can clone the content that they buy.

Digital rights management (DRM) is a technology that helps to protect copyrighted material from being used, read, or shared without the proper rights.

For many companies which are carrying out Digital Rights Management systems or Processes, this can help to stop users from acquiring or using certain assets. This process will be allowing the companies to avoid legal issues that arise from uncertified use. Today for data security, DRM is playing a huge role.

DRM Technologies does not snatch those who engage in data piracy but this technology will make it infeasible to steal or share content.

How do Digital Rights Management Software work?

Most of the time Digital Rights Management consists of technical codes that avoid copying of content, and/or restrictions in time and a total number of devices on which certain products can be accessed.

Content owners/creators, Authors, Publishers use software technology to encode copyrighted material like media, content, e-book, software, other important materials. These files/contents can be accessed only with decoding keys. Content owners can also use few technologies to limit or restrict what users can do with the materials encoded.

There are a lot of ways to protect software, content, product, etc. Digital Rights Management solutions help to allow

  • Documents and Artwork can be watermarked; it helps to prove ownership and identity.
  • It allows setting an expiry date for a document or digital content. After the expiry date, the users will not be able to access the content.
  • For only certain IP addresses, locations or devices the access can be locked.
  • Screenshots and Screen snatches of content can be disallowed.
  • Stop and control users from printing the content.
  • Stop and control users from sharing or forwarding, editing, or saving content.
  • DRM can help to find logs of people and times when certain media, content, or software was used and accessed, downloaded, printed.

A DRM setup needs specific encoding, encryption, authentication, and playback. Encryption and authentication play an important role in the working of DRM which is explained below.

DRM Encryption
Encryption is the key feature in securing DRM

In Figure, it’s seen that encryption is a key feature in securing DRM.

Encryption: It relies on encryption to protect the content and to ensure that only authorized users can unlock the files. When encryption is on-demand, it must implement strong security measures to prevent unauthorized use of content.

These requirements could be implemented by hardware and/or software means.

Big DRM technology providers like — Widevine, PlayReady, FairPlay

Though there are many DRM systems available to protect video content, we only need to worry about the Big Three for supporting the most popular web browsers, devices, and set-top boxes.

These leading players have different capabilities and compatibilities.

What is PlayReady DRM?

Microsoft PlayReady DRM is a set of technologies that can be used to securely distribute audio/video content over the network and prevent unauthorized use.

What is FairPlay DRM?

Secure the delivery of streaming media to devices through the HTTP Live Streaming protocol. Using FairPlay Streaming (FPS) technology, content providers, encoding vendors, and delivery networks can encrypt content, securely exchange keys, and protect playback on iOS, tvOS, and Safari on iOS and macOS.

What is Widevine DRM?

Widevine’s DRM solution provides the capability to license, securely distribute, and protect the playback of content on any consumer device. Content owners, multiple service operators, and digital media providers can utilize Wide vine’s solutions to ensure revenue-generating services keep flowing to whatever device consumers desire.

Key benefits of Digital Rights Management

  • Digital Rights Management solution can help the files to keep safe and secure.
  • Digital Rights Management solution can help content creators to preserve ownership of their work.
  • Incoming earnings can be protected with help of Digital Rights Management.
  • Licensing agreements and technologies can be made easily by using DRM technology.
  • Users will be educated with copyrights and intellectual property with help of DRM technology.

The rules that the digital rights management technology checks for?

There are various uses of DRM technology, It means that DRM technology is very resilient and helps to create a great variety of usage policies. The same DRM principle will be applicable for any kind of video-enabled devices such as smartphones, computers, tablets, and gaming consoles, this technology can also help to protect non-audio assets such as software, ebooks, content, media, etc.

The rules that DRM technology checks for are designed to be simple and quick, they are as follows.

  • Has the user registered the usage device for use with their subscription?
  • Does the user in an invalid location?
  • Does the user time-based usage rule expire if any?
  • Is the subscription in good condition as per terms and conditions?

Terms in DRM

  • DASHDynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), also known as MPEG-DASH, is an adaptive bitrate streaming technique that enables high-quality streaming of media content over the Internet delivered from conventional HTTP web servers.
  • HLS — HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS) is an HTTP-based adaptive bitrate streaming communications protocol developed by Apple Inc. and released in 2009.
  • CMAFCommon Media Application Format (CMAF) — The CMAF specification defines the usage of a subset of commonly used standardized media technologies and profiles. These include ISOBMFF, MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC, AAC, VTT, and Common Encryption (CENC).

What are DRM Policies

DRM policy settings are the digital rights management controls that you can apply at the user, group, file, or folder level. Depending on which edition of Vitrium you have, you can set expiry date, a browser or PDF limit (similar to a device limit), limit the number of days of offline access, set a print limit, an IP address limit, and more.

Understand the 2 Important Rules

  • RULE #1: The most lenient DRM policy setting will always apply no matter where it’s set
  • RULE #2: You must enter a value for EVERY field in a DRM policy

Different Levels You Can Apply a DRM Policy to

  • Content level
  • Group level
  • Folder level
  • User-level
  • Global level

FAQ’s on Digital Rights Management

What is the purpose of DRM?

DRM is designed to restrict all of the incredible possibilities enabled by digital technologies and place them under the control of a few, who can then micromanage and track every interaction with digital media.

What is the difference between DRM and copyright enforcement?

DRM restricts wholly different activities than what copyright does, it serves an entirely different function. Where copyright restricts who can distribute media, DRM helps to restrict how users can access their media.

Does watermarking DRM feature?

Watermarking is different from DRM but may use in conjunction with DRM or proprietary file formats. Watermarking is typically used to identify the source of unauthorized copies. The goal is to be able to identify the source of unauthorized copies found online, and punish the person who originally obtained the authorized copy and shared it.

What’s the difference between hardware and software secured DRM?

Hardware secured DRM is content protection enforced by electronic components. The hardware restriction scheme may complement a digital rights management system implemented in software.
Software-based DRM protection can be built either into a device’s operating system, a playback platform, or enabled via an application-based SDK. DRM licensing, decryption and decoding typically occur in the “user-space” of an operating system which is part of a device’s memory where applications are executed.

What does encryption do to a video?

Before you distribute your video, it must be encrypted. While encrypting, the content key and metadata need to unlock the video which is ingested into our secure DRM database for future delivery to the end-user.

Introducing our software DRM called — vDRM

vDRM — It is “Scalable, Reliable, Easy to use Digital Right Management as a service for all OTT providers”

Here is the simple flow of DRM for OTT providers

vDRM Process
VDRM Process

How does the vDRM service work?

vDRM can protect your content by digital rights management (DRM) license key distribution through our robust cloud-based service.

Step 1: Upload the content — Vendors who wish to take our DRM software can upload the content once registered.

Step 2: Encryption & Packaging — Before you distribute your video, it must be encrypted. While encrypting, the content key and metadata need to unlock the video which is ingested into our secure DRM database for future delivery to the end-user.

Step 3: Content Delivery/Content Distribute — After packaging and encrypting a video file, it’s ready for delivery from your/vendor’s CDN or server infrastructure.

For content to be viewed, DRM must first supply the user’s player with a license key to decrypt the video. Your Vendor’s content cannot be played without this key. (As shown in the figure)

How vDRM service works
How vDRM service works

Step 4: License Delivery — To acquire a license key, the DRM layer in the user’s player application uses the information in the manifest file to launch a request.

What is Multi-DRM?

“Maximum device reach is directly proportional to the using of multiple DRMs in parallel”

  • Consumers are using an increasing range of devices to watch their favorite programs. To grow the OTT business, finding an efficient way to deliver and secure content on all your consumers’ devices is critical.
  • This is possible with vDRM as it has a multi-DRM service option that makes it easy and fast to protect content delivered over the top via PlayReady, Wide vine, FairPlay. It allows service providers and operators to deliver OTT services anytime, anywhere

vDRM offers: Custom DRM solutions, tap into our DRM services to prevent piracy and revenue loss.

Here is what we can do for you:

  • Integrating with Google Widevine, Microsoft PlayReady, and Apple FairPlay
  • DRM Packing and Licensing as a service
  • Easy REST APIs for integration
  • Bring your S3 BUCKETS for added security and privacy.
  • Secure content transfer and CDN Integration
  • Policy configuration for security level, output protection, persistence, renewal, and the license duration.
  • Scalable and reliable SAAS built on AWS cloud and lambda
  • Real-Time Analytics
  • Real-time analytics SDK integration
  • Developing a custom DRM system tailored to your specific needs
  • 24/7 maintenance and monitoring

Benefits of using Multi-DRM

  • Reduces encryption cost because a single encryption process is used to target different platforms with its native DRMs.
  • Reduces the cost of managing assets because only a single copy of assets is needed in storage.
  • Eliminates DRM client licensing costs because the native DRM client is usually free on its native platform.

Coming to an end.

Mobiotics’ vDRM package is customized to work across all platforms and devices without snags. User authentication is also taken care of, enabling only valid users and subscribers to access your content.

Signup for a 14-Days FREE trial right now with a custom DRM encoding & integrated analytics support to maximize your content’s potential at a Minimal Expenditure.

Click here to book a 15 Min demo with us to know how vDRM works.

For more information about our product and services please feel free to get in touch with us

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