How do I protect my Content?
"OTN was not designed to prevent content from being stolen. Rather, it's to enable content to be sold. There's a big difference."
Probably the most common question we get about Open Television Network is "How do I stop someone from stealing my content?" Sadly the only honest answer we can provide to that question is that you cannot. If someone wants to steal your content, they can and will.
The Open Television Network system obscures the location of your media files by default. However, we recommend storing movies out of the public server space and using tools like LinkLock URL or Linklok URL to completely obscure the location of the files. Files protected with LinkLock have been successfully tested with Open Television Network.
The follow-up question is usually "What about Digital Rights Management, won't that protect my program?" The answer to that question is also "no". Digital Rights Management (DRM) theoretically controls access and limits. In theory only. For every piece of content ever made available with DRM, there is a copy available without it. While DRM does prevent people using the content outside the "rules" it also causes an incredible amount of inconvenience for your customers and excessive tech support calls. For example this article at Ars Technica explains some of the problems.
While DRM will prevent "casual piracy" it only takes one savvy person to remove DRM and make that free copy. Every DRM protected DVD is available without DRM online; every DRM protected piece of media is almost certainly available on Bittorrent and even the extreme DRM being added to HD DVD and to Blu-ray has already been cracked, to some degree. By the time DRM is strong enough to have any effect, it is severely interfering with customer enjoyment of the content, and the chance they will recommend it to someone else.
The very last people who are likely to pirate your content are your customers: by definition they are the ones who have forgone free in order to pay you for your content.
Simple, Convenient and Fairly Priced
At Open Television Network, we believe that the way to combat piracy is to offer a simple, convenient and fair way to buy the content people want to watch. There will always be some piracy, a fact of life that we all must live with. It's also not clear that a "pirated" copy is really a lost sale (most often it is not), and whether or not the promotional value of the piracy is worth more than the potential sale. There are certainly some in "big media" who believe that, and evidence suggests that independents and new media also benefit from "piracy".
Simple and Convenient
Open Television Network is designed to be simple. As we find easier ways for viewers (your customers) to build custom channels filled with content they are excited about buying, we continue to improve in offering the easiest possible system for buying content with a single download click. Micropayment systems in the past have failed because they were not convenient. Using the klickTab technology in Open Television Network is simple and convenient. We don't charge customers until after they have downloaded the content. We carry all the risk - content owners get paid even if we do not. Open Television Network uses the customer's existing credit or debit card - no "funny money" involved, just a regular credit card. You can read more in the "How klickTab works" article.
Here is where you come in. Part of the equation is to price your content so it is an attractive purchase to the customer. I talk about pricing in a blog post on my personal blog. Keep in mind that the long term average income per viewer (from advertising or other sources) is a range from roughly 1/10 cent per minute up to 10 cents per minute of content. Currently pricing in the iTunes Store, through Amazon Unbox and from other sources is more expensive than subscribing to cable or satellite. While downloadable content continues to be priced at these levels, it cannot be a reasonable replacement for cable or satellite. When pricing your content, keep in mind that even premium network content averages at approximately a penny (1 cent) per minute per viewer from advertising.
Some content will definitely thrive, and be very profitable, at less the low end of that range, and some content that has premium value to its audience, will do well at the high end of the range. We expect that through 2008 and 2009 will probably continue to average above 1c per minute while ever the Networks and major studios at their current high Seth Godin's discussion on the loss of monopoly and what it means for networks and cable channels.)
At Open Television Network we believe that the combination of a simple and convenient system, with fair pricing for content, is the best approach to defeating piracy.