What is license embedding in a DRM-protected video file?

Digital rights management (DRM) is the go-to technology used to offer protection to copyrighted content, especially premium video content played through OTT apps, and prevents its unauthorized modification or distribution. DRM video protection is implemented by embedding a sequence of codes that prevent copying, specify a time period within which the content can be accessed, or limit the number of devices or platforms the content can be accessed on. 

OTT digital video streaming services use multi-DRM tools for content key management and license issuance for several DRM platforms, such as PlayReady, Google Widevine Modular, FairPlay Streaming and NCG. Put simply, a DRM license is a set of encryption and usage rules used by digital content providers to prevent unauthorized distribution of their content.

Many DRM service providers let applications store the license for a DRM-protected video file. Since the license is already embedded in the content file, a player application can decrypt it and begin playing the video without having to complete the license acquisition process or checking the HDS store. When a domain-bound device acquires a license for a DRM-protected video file, it can embed the license into the file. If the license is flagged to be embedded, an application must embed it as soon as both the content and the license have been acquired. Embedded licenses is a DRM video protection strategy that can improve the user experience in the following ways:

  • Offline content: If a user acquires a content file and license, copies it to a domain-bound PC or device and wishes to play it later when the device does not have access to a license server, an embedded license is required to play the content. 
  • Content migration: If a user migrates a media library from one device to another in the absence of embedded licenses, the receiving device must re-acquire a license for each content file during playback.
  • Content backup and restore: Similar to content migration, restoring content files from a remote backup storage device in the absence of embedded licenses would need the recipient device to reacquire a license for each file during playback.

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