Streamburst Offers Innovative Non-DRM

Documentary film maker Steve O’Hear announced today that his film In Search of the Valley is now available for download using an innovative service called Streamburst – a move he hopes will raise the project’s sales after disappointing initial DVD sales. Streamburst offers a way to discourage and track piracy without limiting the use of files by people who purchase them.

We wrote about O’Hear’s film of interviews with Silicon Valley figures Steve Wozniak, John Warnock, Guy Kawasaki, Craig Newmark, Jef Raskin, Tim O‚ÄôReilly, Dan Kottke and many others when the DVD was released in December. The interviews explore the history of the Valley and why it’s been such a center of tech creativity. full films for download would probably be most independent film makers’ first choice of distribution methods were it not for the problem of piracy. While it’s easy for some people to mock the concerns of media giants, small independent film makers’ careers are obviously directly contingent on their ability to monetize as much of their work as possible. (And they are easier to sympathize with.)

Enter Streamburst, O’Hear’s choice for online distribution. This newly launched UK company takes an interesting approach to copyright. Instead of handcuffing viewers who want to view films they purchase on multiple devices and otherwise use content legitimately in ways DRM blocks – Streamburst takes two steps to prevent movie piracy.

The first is that every film begins with a 5 second display of the name of the person who purchased that copy, as it appears on their credit card. The second step is that Streamburst strips out an undetectable but unique series of bits from each copy of a file downloaded. The company claims that this signature will survive most editing and format transfers. That idea is that the psychological barrier of being named will stop many people from illegally distributing the files and those whom it doesn’t stop can be identified by the unique series of bits stripped from whatever copies make it into illegal file sharing networks.

It’s not an unbeatable plans by any means, but Streamburst could help make content distributors more comfortable offering their work for download. That’s been the case with the makers of In Search of the Valley, which is now available in high quality, portable and mobile formats all for $8 through Streamburst.

It’s an interesting model and an interesting film. See below for a series of short teasers from the In Search of the Valley account at YouTube.

Marshall Kirkpatrick is the Director of Content at SplashCast and will be assisting with TechCrunch while Michael Arrington travels.