Stealing content was never easier than with HTML5

HTML5 makes adding video and audio content to your site very easy but there is currently no way to protect that content. If we’re all completely honest we know that content protection is still a big deal for record companies, movie studios, and TV channels, yet HTML5 puts their content just up for grabs. Let me give you a few examples.

Before I continue I want to make a few points clear. First, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble! Second, this is not an attack or anything like that. Third, I do not want to encourage anyone to steal any content. I will therefore not go in to any details. This blog post is just to point out that you need to take these things in to account when you’re working with premium content!

Unnamed video site
Video site X just rolled out a brand new HTML5 video player. Like I said, HTML5 makes it really easy to add video content to your site but it makes it equally easy to download that content. It only takes a “view source” to find the URL to the video file. Some video sites have also noticed that and are now building custom JavaScript based players in an attempt to make it more difficult to get to the video file. On this one site I counted almost 3000 lines of JavaScript code for a rather basic video player with sharing functionality. 3000 lines of code and it still only took me three clicks to download the video file! I already hear some of you saying that you can also easily get the video file from a Flash based video player. If you use progressive download that is completely true. I’ll get back to that later in this post.

Unnamed new music discovery site
The release of the beta version of this new music discovery site is actually what sparked the idea to write this post. As per usual the tech blogs were buzzing about it as a new music discovery site that didn’t use Flash because Flash is dead. So I checked it out… This particular site gives you unrestricted access to the entire music library. I was able to look up any artist and play back any song in high quality… I can also buy the song on the site for the industry standard $0.99. But with just two clicks I was able to download any song from any artist straight to my desktop without actually buying it. No need for torrents or the risk of downloading viruses. It’s all right there on this official music discovery site in high quality AAC audio (in an M4A file).

I already mentioned that it’s also pretty easy to download a file used in a Flash based media player if the site uses progressive download. The difference between HTML5 and Flash in this case is that you CAN protect your content when using Flash. As there still is no standard audio/video codec in the HTML5 spec there also is no way to stream video and audio content using HTML5 across different browsers. Companies (including Apple) have been experimenting with streaming technologies but I’m sure you remember that that only worked in a specific version of Safari on a specific version of iOS. The HTML5 spec also has no guidelines for any sort of content protection.

Flash does work cross browser and cross platform (as I’m sure all of you know). With the use of Flash Media Server you can also completely protect that content and get the added benefits of features such as adaptive streaming (to adapt to changing connection speeds), reduced bandwidth usage, DRM, multicasting, peer to peer delivery, and more. Bottom line: Flash is still the best platform to stream (premium) video and audio content.

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