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Flash Media Rights Management Server

Flash Media Rights Management Server

Adobe just announced a brand new server software for use with AIR applications. The new server will allow time-limited DRM protection of FLV based content. We talked to Laurel Reitman from Adobe to know more.

The Flash Media Rights Management Server (FMRMS) is two things. It's a serverside software that encrypts your FLV files and a server that will give out keys to decrypt those files. The encrypted files can be delivered either via a plain HTTP download or thru media servers such as Flash Media Server (FMS).

FMRMS can encrypt FLV or MPEG4 files with 128bits encryption. The encryption can be applied in a variety of ways. You can encrypt the entire file, just the keyframes or other parts of the file. These encrypted files can be streamed with Flash Media Server to provide advanced network efficiencies, logging and enhanced seeking through the file or can be progressively downloaded. According to Laurel Reitman at Adobe, "FMRMS is not itself an authentication server, but it can work in conjunction with authentication providers via it’s APIs to control access to content that is downloaded or streamed to the user". This means that you can tie it in with existing solutions using the servers API.

How does it work?

To play the encrypted file, you need a special decryption component on the client side. This component is an until now undisclosed part of the AIR runtime. This is the component that Flash Media Player use for DRM and with this new product, YOU can create solutions such as Apple's new video rental. Videos can be rented thru an AIR interface that you build and control, providing a totally customizable experience. The file is encrypted with a key and this key is given out to the client upon purchase. You control the time limit entirely, though you can't expire a key that's already been given out. You can also decide if the client need to confirm the key upon playback. If you don't require this, offline playback will be possible. Licenses are issued on a per computer basis, but using custom code you could build a service that allowed "content portability".

Think about this a little while - AIR is soon coming to devices. This will give you a 100% cross OS, cross Hardware solution. Imagine renting a video and you fall asleep towards the end. The day after, you'll just watch the rest on your mobile while commuting to work? Interesting scenario.

What's the relation to FMS?

It's really no relation. FMRMS encrypts files and then passes them on to a server for streaming. FMS3 can apply real-time encryption using RTMPE and additional content protection using SWF Verification or its advanced access control API’s and plug ins. Both use 128bit encryption that allows decent security versus good decryption time on most machines. FMS is also the only product that supports live content encryption.

Pricing and requirements

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition; Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS or ES 4.0 (both on 32-bit edition only) operating systems.  It requires a BEA WebLogic 8.1 application server. An Oracle database is required for storing encryption access control lists, policies, content keys, audit events and configuration (DRM
keys, admin user accounts). The server is targeted at content owners with solid revenue streams and the price of USD$40,000 per CPU indicates that this is a product for the Enterprise division.

Adobe has provided a FAQ that answers some interesting questions such as what happens if the encryption on Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server is cracked? "Adobe is committed to providing continued support for Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server. Adobe AIR, and applications built on AIR including Adobe Media Player, support application and runtime updates.  If your encryption is cracked you can require that moving forward your application, and your content within that application, only run within the latest version of the software. "


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