R – DRM scheme that works


We help our clients to manage and publish their media online – images, video, audio, whatever. They always ask my boss whether they can stop users from copying their media, and he asks me, and I always tell him the same thing: no. If the users can view the media, then a sufficiently determined user will always be able to make a copy. But am I right?

I've been asked again today, and I promised my boss I'd ask about it online. So – is there a DRM scheme that will work? One that will stop users making copies without stopping legitimate viewing of the media?

And if there isn't, how do I convince my boss?

Best Solution

I believe you have misinterpreted your boss's question. Perhaps he doesn't even know the right question to ask, so I'll give you the Q&A that should have occurred.

Boss: Can we stop every determined user from copying our clients' media?

You: No, this is impossible.

Boss: Can we make it difficult, such that the vast majority of determined attackers will be unable to break our content protections?

You: Yes, this is possible.

Boss: Can it be done in a way that does not impact performance of media playback such that it becomes inconvenient to our legitimate users?

You: Yes, this is challenging, but tractable.

Boss: Is it economically feasible to implement such a protection system?

You: That depends on the details of our contracts with media providers. If some providers are unwilling to license desirable content to us because of our unwillingness to protect it for them, it could be an economic imperative. We should hire one or more experts in digital rights management to implement the system if that is the route you decide to take.

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