Best solutions for setting up a pay-per-download video service?
August 24, 2006 1:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm an expert web developer looking to set up my own pay-per-download video service, preferably on a PHP platform. I'll need to be able to provide users with the ability to easily pay for purchases and receive limited access to download their purchased content.

I've investigated some pre-baked PHP script options, as well as some micropayment services like BitPass. Ideally a BitPass-esque solution would be perfect, because it would take the delivery/payment processing architecture off my hands, but it's questionable to me whether the BitPass service agreement excludes adult content. My search-fu has turned up contradictory information on this subject, and although the BitPass service agreement doesn't appear to exclude adult-themed content, I'm skeptical.

Has anyone worked with any good (preferably open source) PHP cart solutions that might automate some of the processes that I'm going to need to implement, such as download link generation?

Also, in the realm of payment processing and micropayments, have any of you had any experience in this area? I'd like to get some recommendations for services that would allow me to automate content delivery and payment, while still having a fairly liberal policy in regard to material intended for mature audiences.
posted by superboy422 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
As a fellow "expert" web developer. (whatever that means), I have 3 simple steps that might help your issue:

1. Download the PayPal API or the Verisign API or the API for whatever payment platform you use.

2. Make sure to download them for anything OTHER than PHP.

3. Stop Using PHP
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 1:29 PM on August 24, 2006

Looks like you're going for something adult.

Why not find a browse some adult sites (for the sake of research) and see what they use for processing?
posted by mphuie at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2006

judge.mentok.the.mindtaker: PayPal won't allow adult content sales (part of their terms of service). I haven't looked into Verisign. In regard to the platform, if PHP scales well enough for, I suspect it will scale well enough for me. Thanks for the input, though.

mphuie: I've been doing some research in regard to how adult sites handle these issues, but the common thread among these sites is that most of them are subscription-based, rather than pay-per-download, and many of them are technologically 3-4 years behind. I'm trying to avoid an expensive account from a service like, which charges a very large setup fee.
posted by superboy422 at 1:40 PM on August 24, 2006

Regarding payment for sites for "mature audiences," CCBill is a market-leader in this area. A couple of my clients have worked with them. They are generally subscription-based, since they (the site owners) are counting on having an ongoing revenue stream that users might not bother to cancel.

There's also the model used by AEBN, where one pre-pays for a block of minutes rather than using micropayments, though that might not suit your needs.

Whatever you do, if you are in the US be sure to investigate legal requirements as a primary producer or secondary producer, whichever you are.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:06 PM on August 24, 2006

I've done some work with adult websites in my sordid past, and I'd second the CCBill recommendation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:31 PM on August 24, 2006

>if PHP scales well enough for

Er, what? Please explain.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:27 PM on August 24, 2006

He's probably talking about this.
posted by bshort at 6:50 PM on August 24, 2006

Hmm. Four years ago, Yahoo announced they were going to start using PHP for some things, while clearly stating that they weren't going to "rewrite the whole site".

I, for one, welcome our new minor-changes backend-only, provisional PHP overlords.

I wonder what they use now?

But I love this bit:
Because PHP is embedded within tags, code writers can jump between HTML and PHP (similar to ASP and Cold Fusion)
that say that like it's a good thing...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:15 PM on August 24, 2006

I've already answered the question, but I'd like to add in the poster's defense, PHP is a perfectly fine scripting language when the system just needs to serve up some simple database queries. I'm usually the first to recommend Java when a question arises about "what's the best backend for my super-app," but in a case like this, PHP is probably the best solution. Maintainability isn't exactly difficult when you're serving up simple porn galleries, you know?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:48 PM on August 24, 2006

PHP works fine for larger sites as well. I run an exceptionally large intranet and relatively large website on it. ... the website is a pile of pig dung because it was done before my time, but the intranet is very elegantly coded, standards and accessibility compliant, and FAST ... running on PHP and MSSQL and MySQL.
posted by SpecialK at 8:51 PM on August 24, 2006

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