Elena Subashka
February 2022
7 min

How DRM–encryption can help protect your e–learning content


When it comes to producing authentic video content one of the most important aspects you need to consider is how well  the video is protected. In this era of digital technology, it is easier than ever to download and distribute video content online. However, this action might have a negative impact on creators from various fields, such as e-learning platforms, resulting in a loss of credibility, audience and resources. It takes a lot of resources to create engaging video courses.

Luckily there is a solution for online learning platforms to ensure premium content privacy by encrypting their videos using a digital management system (or DRM) .

Surprisingly widely available enterprise hosting solutions (like Wistia or Vimeo Enterprise) lack the needed additional layer of security and give out basic privacy settings (domain privacy) that can compromise  serious protection measures. 

Unauthorized video content distribution has never been a bigger threat to online creators than currently. A 2017 report by Digital TV Research showed the cost of unauthorized digital property would reach $51.6 billion by 2022 which was already surpassed in 2019 according to Parks Associates predicting a loss of $67 billion by 2023

As more and more educational institutions have adopted video as a teaching method due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to ensure the highest quality digital rights management protection for your e-learning materials.

You can see how easy it is to download videos from Vimeo without authorization. Even Tobi the Pom Spitz can do it within seconds 😄

Layers of content protection

But how do you prevent your content getting released without your authorization? There are 3 layers of protection depending on the stage:

1. Viewer authorization - simultaneous logins exceeding the limit (for 2-3 devices in a family mode) on CMS or LMS can be easily blocked. Besides, using SSO (Single sign-on) via Google, Apple etc. instead of email logins is highly recommended since people tend not to share such sensitive accounts. Distributing videos via direct links (even password protected) proved to be less secure compared to embeds located in private portal areas.

2. Watching videos : avoid using direct links to mp4 files since they cannot be properly protected from download. Just encrypting video streams to protect against unwanted downloads is not enough since with HLS AES encryption there is still a key transferred alongside the stream and could be easily intercepted.
Using a DRM system is a golden standard - video could be downloaded but cannot be played unless granted permission by the owner. Technically DRM combines military grade encryption with protected authorization. Download-plugins face not only technical obstacles but legal consequences and the unauthorized users prefer not to deal with DRM protected content marking it as unsupported:

3. Video already leaked or  you  suspect a screen recording? Here tracking is crucial:

  • Preventative measures: using dynamic watermarking that displays user-related data (id or email) as an overlay on the player during the private playback session can prevent 70-80% of potential screen recording attempts. Thus, highly experienced users are likely to find a breach since the stream itself is not actually marked.
  • DNA coding - using more sophisticated methods like marking the stream by creating a unique combination of frames is possible but it’s expensive, requires several times more encoding power, and tracking becomes extremely complex.Intrusion detection & prevention systems (IDS & IPS) : monitors suspicious activity from long-term sessions or from various IPs. IDS automates intrusion detection while IPS goes one step further and can block possible intrusions.

Clearly, DRM protection provides the highest level of security for e-learning content. It is important to remember that no single solution provides 100% guaranteed protection against unwanted downloading. Therefore it is necessary to mitigate the biggest risks and apply appropriate, intelligent technical countermeasures.

AES128 protection vs. DRM solution protection

As mentioned, there are various ways of content protection. One method is video encryption, where the content is encoded to make sure no one can access the raw data. If someone has access to the file without the encryption keys the content of the file will show completely unintelligible information.

One solution to encrypt video files is to use Standardized Stream Encryption (AES-128) Clear Key. It encrypts the end-to-end stream delivery pipeline and doesn’t require a license server implementation. AES-128 can be used as a standalone software protection solution, however video streams decryption keys are transferred transparently and thus using AES-128 alone is not a reliable method. Exchange keys can be accessed and decrypted by people with sufficient coding skills resulting in decoding the video content and potentially sharing it without the creator’s consent. 

Now here comes the best part: When you use a full-featured DRM system in combination with encryption, it acts as a complementary level of protection extending the delivery chain between the security key and the viewer. To fully ensure the content of your e-learning videos is protected it is best to confirm that your video hosting provider doesn’t rely solely on video encryption. Kinescope uses both ClearKey and Apple FairPlay DRM to ensure the most advanced DRM video encryption system on major platforms. Each piece of the video is encrypted with individual keys with a certain lifetime, to prevent unauthorized video playback.

Types of DRMs and how they protect your content

There are a couple of DRM solutions currently available for protecting video content. The most common ones for commercial use supporting web browsers, devices and set-up boxes are:

  • Apple’s FairPlay - designed for Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) supporting playback on Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac OS X.

With Kinescope you can even prevent screen recording and screenshots from Apple’s iOS, Safari on Mac and Edge browser. This provides an additional layer of screen capture blocking especially combined with dynamic watermarking on other platforms.

See Kinescope’s DRM protection in action:

  • Microsoft's PlayReady - content can be played on various Microsoft devices and other platforms via SDKs. It is used for hosting large international events like the Olympics.
  • Widevine - originally developed by Widevine Technologies and acquired by Google in 2010. Widevine is built into most Android devices and is not compatible with everything - content can be played in Chrome and Firefox browsers, as well as on Android and Chromecast devices. Many streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video are protected with Widevine. 

As we’ve shown before, videos can sometimes be decrypted without authorization if only one layer of video encryption is used. DRM systems offer an additional layer of protection to the video streaming where encryption keys cannot be transferred.

The way DRM works is on two levels: The first level consists of encrypting segments of the video or the metadata of the whole video stream. The encryption keys are protected behind a BlackBox or Content Decryption Module (CDM) and cannot be accessed without Encrypted Media Extensions (EMEs).

The second level makes sure only authorized users can unlock the files. The encryption keys are wrapped around a digital license containing information on how the content can be used. If a user requests to watch a video, the DRM system checks for authorization and is given a token of validation. Finally, the token sends confirmation to the streaming device with authorization to play. Although it can sound like a long process, it takes seconds when using an advanced OTT provider like Kinescope.

Why is it important to protect your e-learning assets

Unwanted downloads can have negative consequences for your e-learning video content  when distributed  without your authorization. According to recent research data revenue loss for premium content distribution could reach up to 20% and higher in cases where no protection measures are applied. One of the most secure ways to protect your assets is to opt for a video hosting service using the highest level of security features and modern DRM solutions.
Choosing and implementing the right DRM solution for your online content can be difficult and time consuming, especially without technical support. That is why Kinescope is loved by small and medium-sized businesses. We provide the highest standard of DRM aligned to world-class technologies, accessible for businesses without a big tech team.


Kinescope helps e-learning platforms of any size to securely store and distribute their video content without having to worry about unauthorized access . Kinescope runs on its own cutting-edge infrastructure and provides the highest level of control and security available on the market, combined with unbeatable pricing. Your videos will be encrypted with the latest industry-standard DRM systems, like Apple Fairplay, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free process. The only thing you have to do is upload a video to our dashboard and you will get a player embedded code that can be securely distributed everywhere. Easy peasy!

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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Elena Subashka
February 2022
7 min