At MAX Europe in Barcelona I attended a session on Flash video in which Jens Loeffler of Adobe outlined the upcoming DRM features in Flash video. This was the first time I heard any technical details on how this DRM approach will work and what it can do. What follows is my approach at summarising what I gathered and a series of photos of all the DRM related slides that were shown.

As announced previously, Adobe is planning to offer two forms of digital rights management which they call content integrity (slide) and identity-based licensing (slide). In a nutshell the former means that a particular piece of content is only playable if it has not been altered, which is important if you as a content owner want to ensure for example that a pre-roll video ad is always part of the main content.

If you were to separate the advertisement from the main content then the main video would no longer play and is therefore ideal for ad-supported business models.
On a technical level this is achieved by using digitally signed SMIL playlists (slide) in Adobe Media Player which (when used in this setup) uses encrypted FLV files. Each encrypted file can be tied to a policy which specifies either a start and end date between which the file can be played, an offline cache which enforces the same limit, a list of approved playback applicationsd as well as the type of user authentication. Anonymous authentication is an option if all you want to ensure is the playback of a particular as, the actual identity of the user is not strictly needed in this case.

Identity-based licensing is the approach to ensure that a particular piece of content can only be played back by an authorised user and in this sense it is pretty much what I understand under 'normal' DRM. There is no content integrity at play here but I understand it as a user authentication mechanism - if you have the correct credentials you can play the content, if not then you can't. This is irrespective of a date range and so on and can quite clearly be seen in a subscription model for example.

The technical news here was the announcement of a new server called Flash Media Rights Management Server (slide of the architecture), which implements a super set of Adobe's Lifecycle Enterprise Suite, a solution used for rights management of documents and PDFs in particular. The server (slide), which is due to be released in Q1 of 2008, will support the same platforms as Flash Media Server and run on Windows Server 2003 as well as Red Hat. This new server can be tied into existing systems (slide) as well as Adobe AIR applications and it was mentioned that Adobe Media Player is NOT the exclusive application to leverage these features. Instead it is open to developers, and AIR developers in particular through the use of the so called AIR Policy Server Client SDK. There's an API (slide) that can be used to implement these new video DRM features (slide) into AIR based video applications. The NetStream object in ActionScript will also provide functionalities such as new DRm related events such as DRMStatusEvent, DRMErrorEvent and so on (see slides).
A lot of very technical info here, and some went right over my head. But it's obvious that Flash video DRM will work both online and offline and can be used by any AIR application, subject to the SDK being released. The primary channel for distributing DRMed Flash video content will undoubtedly be Adobe Media Player, at least so in the short term.

You can see my entire slideshow from MAX here, it contains a few slides which I have not linked directly. The DRM slides start here.