Adobe, with today’s launch of its Flash Media Rights Management Server, is enabling big media companies to put tighter restrictions on their content. The software works with applications built on Adobe AIR, such as the upcoming Adobe Media Player, to extend control of Flash content — even after it’s been downloaded. Content owners can set customized restrictions including how long the content can be viewed, whether an ad needs to be watched first, and who can view it.
Instead of an ordinary web download, these programs can use a proprietary, secret Adobe protocol to talk to each other, encrypting the communication and locking out non-Adobe software players and video tools. We imagine that Adobe has no illusions that this will stop copyright infringement–any more than dozens of other DRM systems have done so–but the introduction of encryption does give Adobe and its customers a powerful new legal weapon against competitors and ordinary users through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).