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Old April 7th, 2007, 06:46 PM   #1
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Is it possible to 'protect' video on Web site?

I'm seriously considering creating a Web site where I will post videos. I'm not considering charging to view the videos but I don't want them downloaded to people's personal computers unless I'm compensated for it. Is that possible?

Thanks for your help.

Chuck
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Old April 7th, 2007, 07:51 PM   #2
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You can make it pretty difficult to figure out how to download it, but someone seriously determined can pretty much rip anything off a site these days. Most times it just takes a right-click on the page to select "View source..." and then finding the reference in the embed code to a .mov, or .wmv or whatever you're using...so the first step would be to disable the right-click (search google, it's pretty easy.) The second step would be to use javascript to reference the video file, so even if people manage to see the code of the page, all they see is a .js call. I'm not that fluent in website programming so take my suggestions with a grain of salt, but that's how I'd do it.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #3
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Look into the various DRM schemes available. Real's Helix is one approach. Microsoft has DRM for Windows Media formats. Apple has their own scheme. You can stream Flash video, but Adobe doesn't have DRM yet, AFAIK.

The ad model is simpler in many ways. You can hardcode an ad into your video. You can dynamically link the ad & video. You can also do overlays on your video.

A key difficulty is to get people to pay for video that isn't already established as high value content. You can charge for a well-advertised Hollywood movie, pro-wrestling or already-popular TV shows. Getting people to pay for content that isn't already established is really tough - unless it appeals to an already rabid niche fan base.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 02:07 PM   #4
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Why do you have a problem with people downloading your video?

For those people on slow, dial-up connections, downloading may be the only way they can watch your video without constant freezes.

You could watermark your video or put the obvious bug in the lower right corner.

The only way to ensure that your videos cannot be copied is to not make them available in the first place.

Jeff
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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:29 PM   #5
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Look, Hollywood invests MILLIONS in anti-piracy efforts. So knuckleheads go into theatres with little DV camcorders and rip the movies anyway.

If someone wants your content, they'll get it.

The fact that it's streaming onto their computer screen in the first place, means that while someone might not be able to actually defeat the DRM to capture the actual DATA STREAM in real time, anyone who's experienced enough can use a screen capture tool can cap the IMAGE STREAM being sent to the screen, functionally doing the same thing.

Or they can just set up a camcorder - camcorders LOVE our LCD computer monitors and don't even have sync roll problems like we used to with CRTs.

If your business model relies on copy protection to survive, it won't for very long - not if someone really wants your content.

My 2 cents anyway.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #6
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It's hardly worth the trouble to try and protect your on-line videos. As Bill mentioned, a screen capture program (like Camtasia) will defeat any scheme you can devise.

Also, don't bother disabling right-click. It's annoying to web users (the right-click is useful for more than just viewing the web page source) and it does nothing to prevent the user from clicking View > Source from the pull-down menus.

So, the definitive answer to your original question is a resounding "No".
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Old April 11th, 2007, 08:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Penn View Post
I'm seriously considering creating a Web site where I will post videos. I'm not considering charging to view the videos but I don't want them downloaded to people's personal computers unless I'm compensated for it. Is that possible?

Thanks for your help.

Chuck
Charles, have you considered progressively-downloaded Flash video? That seems like the most obvious answer. I use it all over my website, it is nice quality compression, easy on the bandwidth, and you can't just download the source video file. Granted, if someone wants something bad enough, they'll get it, but Flash is my web video of choice for sure.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 12:05 AM   #8
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One way to hide the Flash video file is to

1) Provide the Flash plugin some secret code in the HTML
2) The Flash plugin makes an XML request to your server using a variation on the secret code.
3) The XML file provided by the server includes the filename of the video
4) The flash plugin requests the video and plays it when the buffer allows

It's far from totally secure, but it keeps the casual HTML source reader from finding your videos.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:03 AM   #9
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I probably should drink all of my coffee prior to writing this; but I will agree that if your business is selling your videos, you will have a difficult time posting the entire video and not having it downloaded by someone with experience.

There are only a few options really, one which is watermarking the video. This is the only deterent to having someone really reuse your video, even then, they could crop it out. At that point it's mute anyway, not like they can recode it into a decent output for a hollywood movie.

The other idea is to show only a short, or a very small version of your video, then have people purchase the entire video through itunes or a web shopping cart.

But seriously, protecting content is hard, if not impossible.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 08:23 PM   #10
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Coming from a guy who works as a software engineer, DO NOT put anything up on the web that you do not want people to have access to.

If you really want to go the pay to view watch find an existing site that will help do all the work for you, because if you don't know much about making websites you will be spending a lot of time or money trying to get one made.

I suggest either you don't put up the full clips, or that you create low res quality versions of your stuff.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 11:39 AM   #11
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Short answer: NO. Any digital media is inherently copyable. (Search schneier.com for DRM)

Rather than bother with protecting your video, consider this: Do you think that your videos will become so popular that it is likely to be distributed by a sufficient number of people to make it generally available to the public by other channels than through your site?

If spread relies on viral networks, people may send a short clip in an email. This is a very limited media due to size. Take advantage of it, make clips suitable for email in reduced quality, and make sure your web address is in the frame the entire clip. It will generate traffic to your site and maybe business.

If spread relies on P2P, large file sizes shared by a small number of people make it unpractical. I wouldn't worry much about it unless you offer blockbuster movies or porn.

All the tricks you can do to obscure the source will only cause problems for the legitimate users.

Cheers, Erik
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Old April 18th, 2007, 10:44 PM   #12
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If someone wanted it bad, they could just use a screen capture software to get it and the audio. So if you don't want it out there, don't put it out there.
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Old April 20th, 2007, 11:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Penn View Post
I'm not considering charging to view the videos but I don't want them downloaded to people's personal computers unless I'm compensated for it. Is that possible?
Downloading is one thing- just a click. Taking the time to use a screen capture tool or whatever is slightly more involved, plus you have to have that extra software. So assuming that ANY video playing on a computer can be "ripped" with screen capture software, and that your goal here is simply to have videos posted that people can't just download onto their machine, I still say progressively-downloaded Flash video is the way to go.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 10:53 PM   #14
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Charles, you still haven't described what kind of content you want to provide. I sure hope it's as worthy as you make it out to be with wanting to protect it so much. You may find that nobody wants to even watch it because it really has to stand out and have a purpose among all of the other main stream and video sharing sites available. Like several others mentioned, once it's on the web, it is accessible for any hacker to try to take it, even for the fun of it if for no other reason.

If you use a true streaming server and not a standard web server, it will not be downloaded, believe me I've tried. However, those cost more to lease or maintain. A company called Akamai provides streaming servers and manages most major conent providers but I bet it's not cheap. As mentioned earlier, Flash is a good way to prevent downloading too.

I have hours and hours of streaming media available to view and I have come to the following conclusion. I can't control where it eventually ends up and how it's used. But, I can get free advertising by watermarking the content at the top, middle and bottom so my info can't be removed or cropped out.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 02:59 AM   #15
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I agree with most of the comments here - if someone wants a copy of the content badly enough, they'll get it! Even setting up a true streaming server will not stop a screen capture program.

Whilst progressive flash is also my method of choice these days, it doesn't stop copying as it saves a copy in the cache (temporary internet folder). That said, you can't play the file directly as you can with a wmv or mov...

Watermarking is a good technique which if done properly is difficult to remove and ensures that whilst users can have a copy, it will always have your name
on it!

So, best advice is that previously given, use short trailers on the web to publicise content and be happy if someone wants to copy it ;-)

I'm fascinated to know what the content is!!!

Hope this helps
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