MPEG-DASH and ClearKey, CENC drm encryption with Nginx, bento4 and dashjs under CentOS 8

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate a simple and plain example of ClearKey DRM encryption using a DASH stream.
Usually, the ClearKey is used only for testing the encryption key and the DRM setup, because the decrypting key is transferred in a plain text to the browser. In simple DRM words, the key is transferred in plain text, and the handle of the decryption is not in some proprietary module such as CMD – Content Decryption Modules. The CMD is a proprietary module in the browsers or the players, which works like a black box when handling the decryption key. The most popular DRMs are Google’s Widevine, Apple’s Fireplay, and Microsoft PlayReady, which work through a proprietary module – CMD (Content Decryption Modules) in the browser (or the OS and player).
All the three DRMs work basically in a similar way:

  • There is a (encryption) key and a (encryption) keyID, which purpose is to identify the (encryption) key.
  • The video file is encrypted with the key and it includes the keyID.
  • The client needs to have the appropriate CMD (Content Decryption Modules) to decrypt the video.
  • The clients receive a license from a license server, which is encrypted data for the CDM on how to decrypt the video identified by the keyID. In fact, the client sends the keyID and receives the proper license (i.e. license binary data) for this keyID. That’s why keyID is included in the encrypted video. Bare in mind, the CMD is proprietary Content Decryption Module offered by the creator of the DRM – Google, Apple, Microsoft or another and it lives in the browser (OS or player). All popular browsers support at least one of the proprietary DRMs.

ClearKey is like the proprietary DRM schemes, but without the CMD (Content Decryption Modules).

The “org.w3.clearkey” Key System uses plain-text clear (unencrypted) key(s) to decrypt the source. No additional client-side content protection is required.

So, in general, there is no need for a license server when using ClearKey DRM.
Of course, an additional attempt to hide the plain-text key could be made using an extension to the client’s player such as javascript modules and etc. In general, it is perceived this approach to be less secure, because it is much easier to debug the javascript code on the client side. More on ClearKey

Here are all the steps from the server till the client to use ClearKey.

STEP 1) Download and install bento4 software.

bento4 is an open source toolkit for manipulating some of the most common video formats – MP4 and DASH/HLS/CMAF media. The download page is and the Linux binary for latest stable version: There is also a source code snapshot link.
Download the famous blender video for the demostration:
Download and unpack the binary
Keep on reading!