Monday, March 12, 2007

Let's use DRM!

I've seen *lots* of questions on various S60 forums, where developers were asking for advices on how to implement THE ideal security technique that protects their application from cracking, stealing and in general: using without the permission of the author.
I'm not sure if they're aware of that they're not alone with their problem and in fact Nokia (and Symbian, of course) has already made a framework for them that's sitting on *every* S60 phone and just waiting for being used.

This framework is called DRM and it's a short for Digital Rights Management. You might have heard about it lately, as there's a quite hot topic, namely the "war" between Apple and France. So, without dwelving into techniqual details regarding the capabilities of aforementioned framework, let me point out its two most important features:
- forward-lock: it does NOT allow to send a DRM-protected content from one phone to another (i.e. forward).
- preventing the user from consuming the content (listening to music, watching video, playing a game, etc.) more than she's paid for. It's possible to set up this limit specifying how many times or for how long can the content be used without having to pay again.
Note that there is an exception for forward-lock, called Super Distribution, where the content *can* be forwarded, but under complete control.

So, what does a developer have to do if she wants to DRM-protect her application? There are two things she has to tackle:
- first, she must make the application (i.e. the SIS file) DRM-protected: the freely downloadable NMIT makes that possible, for example.
- second, publish the protected content so that others can download it. An important point here is that ideally publishing happens so that asking for new permission (as user rights usually expire from time to time) by users is convenient.

And this is the point where I'm uncertain as to whether there is enough support for developers. You know, they have to
- either set up their own delivery server that takes care of content as well as rights management. I'm sure you all see that one can hardly find free tools for it.
- or make use of the DRM support service their mobile content provider provides them. If it does provide. For example, I've already seen that Handango (one of the most popular S60 content providers) provides similar support for its *partners*. I call it "DRM hosting", hope that I use this term right, and am really wondering how much it costs for average developers. I mean, I'm sure that some developers/companies can afford it, but what about "the masses"?

I'm eager to hear your opinion!

Migrated from Forum Nokia Blogs.


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