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Video software

Secustream Skirts DRM Debate

A Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) subsidiary has acquired an infant Oslo startup that's pitching an alternative to digital rights management for TV and movies.

Telenor's security arm, Conax AS , announced today that it's in an agreement to acquire Secustream Technologies AS . Terms weren't disclosed, but, considering Secustream has just seven people and raised $1 million in investments, it probably didn't break the Conax bank account. (See Conax Buys Secustream.)

Conax sells conditional access products for digital TV providers. (See Who Makes What: IP Video Systems.)

Founded in 2006 and built with only a $1 million investment from ProVenture AS , Secustream comes from a research project at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) .

"It started with an invention focused on gaming," says Gisle Østereng, Secustream's CEØ. "The problem when you're gaming online is that there's lots of cheating -- people building their own weapons."

Secustream's idea, crafted by a professor and a PhD student, was to reassign security keys to the online connection every second. Any attempt to intercept the key exchange would be a telltale sign of someone trying to hack the system.

Extending the idea to video, Secustream provides client- and server-side software that swaps keys continually, sending them on a low-bandwidth connection separate from the video itself. Secustream then watches for hacking attempts, ending the transmission if anything untoward is detected. "We give a kind of shield around the [media] player, so if the player is modified, we know about it," Østereng says.

The client software talks to Secustream servers in the TV operator's network. The client side costs $5 to $7, while the servers run $20,000 to $60,000 each, depending on the number of end users.

Secustream is pitching its technology as a way to thwart unauthorized copying of videos. Østereng admits the startup is trying to play off DRM's bad reputation. "People tend to hate DRM, because when they buy music legally, they are not allowed to share it between their own devices," he says.

Secustream has one customer announced: Norway's SnapTV Ltd. (See SecuStream, SnapTV Team.)

Østereng claims he's got a shot at Hollywood, too, because studios told him they'd be interested if Secustream could get its technology approved by Telcordia Technologies Inc. -- something that came about in March.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:40:17 PM
re: Secustream Skirts DRM Debate I realize there aren't deep technology details in here -- I didn't have much time to get to know Secustream before they went & got bought -- but I'd be curious what you folks think about this approach vs. DRM.

It sounds interesting, but a lot of the yelling about DRM is around downloads and physical product (CDs), not streaming. Even so, I do know people who'll cheer anything that causes there to be less DRM in the world, in any context.
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