Interesting alternative to DRM


Streamburst is a company that helps people making video content available for sale on the internet. The files are without DRM and will play on most devices out there.

What they have done to discourage people from making the files available all over the internet is that the copy you get is personalized. They mark the file with the name on the credit card used to pay for the download. Both as a three second tag in the beginning of the movie and as an invisible watermark through the file.

I guess it is possible to remove this watermark just like it is possible to remove most known types of DRM, but I think this approach is way better. And very user friendly. And future proof. The MPG4-files that you download will play on Mac, Windows and Linux through free tools like the VLC Media Player or Democracy Player.

Here are two stores using Streamburst:
In Search of the Valley
Long Way Round

Links to other sites discussing Streamburst:
DRM Alternatives: Q&A with Steve O’Hear
Film about Apple founders released DRM-free
DRM and creativity
Social DRM

Interesting alternative to DRM

8 thoughts on “Interesting alternative to DRM

  1. Tomas says:

    Yep…I agree.

    And I would buy that as long as these criteria is met:
    – The watermark is in no way degrading the quality of the content (artifacts on screen etc)
    – The 3 second tag should be 1-10 frames instead. Or at least maximum 1 second.

    But of course. Way better than DRM.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Streamburst is definitely an interesting way to combat piracy. I’ve felt this for awhile — the only way to convince people to protect their content is to mark it with identifying marks. Most people would hesitate to share their videos with strangers if their name was stamped on it.

    I read a somewhat different perspective on the whole matter. One blogger put it nicely when he said “size is still the best copy protection for high-quality video files”:

    – Alyssa

  3. @Alyssa:
    size as protection is interesting.
    But it is a battle very similar to encription techniques.
    Cat and mouse.
    first people downloaded/shared MP3’s then DivX movies, then lossless audio, then complete DVD images.
    Currently, many people download/share HD-DVD movies of more than 10Gig.
    All thanks to degrading prices and higher bandwith for my internet connection.

  4. Tomas:
    The tag is more like “Your name on the three first seconds of the movie”, like in the screen shot in this post. The movie starts at once, but the text “Welcome Eirik Solheim” is displayed on top for the first two or three seconds.

    As far as I know the watermark is purely electronic and not visible in the video in any ways.

  5. Tomas says:

    Eirikso: I thought the watermark was encoded into the bitstream, which is the picture (or audio)… If they keep it outside of it, it would be alot easier for a hacker to locate it…or?

  6. I am no expert at these kinds of techology, but I think there are two ways of doing this. Hide the watermark in the bitsream without influencing the image. Or, actually make the watermark visible in the image and thus degrading the quality.

    I’ll try to find more info about the details of Streamburst’s solution.

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