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Technical Article => Web =>  HTML5

HTML5 Video and DRM

  Kevin Whitman      2012-02-05 07:18:23      3,735    0    0

Many people call HTML5 an Adobe Flash replacement and I agree. Adobe already discontinued Flash on mobile devices. So HTML5 Video is a must for video on mobile phones and tablets. On the desktop Flash Video players are used more than HTML5 Video players but HTML5 video will work with a current web browser on a site that supports HTML5 video. Commercial video sites like YouTube will play partnered content in Flash even if you turned on HTML5 video at I assume the reason for this is HTML5 video doesn’t really support DRM. The HTML5 video tag just tells the web browser where the video is and other info it needs to know, then the browser handles the video playback using a supported codec and other features like controls.

So DRM could be implemented in all the major browsers and play DRM video back if everyone is using an up-to-date browser that supports video files with DRM. Also I think Firefox would object to supporting DRM as it’s a closed technology. Plus since its open source you could read the code, and then “crack” the DRM. So I doubt all the browsers would even support DRM videos. So that’s why video sites still use Flash or Silverlight on the desktop. Then on mobile devices you install a native app(Example: Hulu Plus and Netflix) I assume it’s for DRM also.

Now I think DRM is pretty stupid. DRM is pretty much cracked all the time. Sadly major entertainment companies still prefer to use this type of technology. It’s basically security through obscurity and seems like a waste of resources to create and use. So I think the entertainment industry being ignorant is going to hold back HTML5 Video for commercial video sites.

The plan for Viewashi(Video Startup I’m part of) is to do HTML5 Video with a flash fallback. Then also prevent hot linking via a token based system. This clearly seems like an innovative approach to me as a HTML5 video seems to use less CPU than a Flash video. I’m not sure if this would hurt the content selection. What do you think? Do you think the entertainment industry would want to get on board? Do you think Indie content would get on board? Or should we just stay with dying technology like Flash or Silverlight that supports DRM?

Normally I like to be in a stealth mode and not talk much about any of these types of details relating to a startup but before we really start on our player, I’m just curious as what others think on this topic.

I think supporting HTML5 video is great and I prefer it over flash. HTML5 Video just seems all fragmented. IE and Safari needs MP4, Chrome needs WebM or OGV, etc. So DRM on top of that would complicate things even more. I know HTML5 isn’t done till 2014. Some of the elements seems done already and is in use. Do you think the state of HTML5 video will be better in 2014 or even 2013? I personally would prefer DRM to never be implemented as it seems like a waste as it will most likely be cracked by someone and different browsers will disagree on it. Do you think not having DRM is going to be a big problem for HTML5 video adoption or will it get it later on? What are your opinions on this topic?

PS: I’m not trying to promote DRM. Just talking about how it could be implemented and wondering if not having DRM on HTML5 Video will limit the use of HTML5 video for full television episodes and movies by the studios.




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