August 10, 2006 3:07 PM PDT

Studios to OK copying movie downloads to disc

Accused often of being anti-consumer when it comes to digital media, the movie industry has plans to relax controls over how films are copied to DVDs.

In the past, watching a movie downloaded off the Web meant viewing it on a PC. Soon, people will be able to copy a digital movie onto a specially made DVD under rule changes expected to be adopted by the DVD Copy Control Association, the group that produces the technology designed to prevent DVDs from being copied.

Digital movies, which are offered by such companies as CinemaNow and Movielink, have so far failed to catch on with the public. One of the big complaints from consumers has been that downloaded movies are prevented from being copied to disc and, thus, watched on TV sets.

The reason for this is that Hollywood studios feared downloads would be easily pirated. Despite the precautions, unauthorized films continue to be distributed on the Web.

The latest move by the association fits with Hollywood's overall strategy to combat piracy by offering consumers a legal, inexpensive and convenient way to obtain digital movies so they won't bother to steal them.

"We want to give people the entertainment they want and offer it to them in the ways they want to use it," said Greg Larson, the association's spokesman.

Retailers in the video-on-demand business say this is only the first of many upgrades to the video-on-demand business. Tom McInerney, founder and CEO of Guba, a video-sharing site that recently negotiated deals with Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment to sell downloadable movies, implores critics of the video-on-demand market to be patient.

"This is only the first minute of the first quarter in this industry," McInerney said. "Now you can burn movies to DVDs, and soon broadband improvements are going to allow a speedier delivery of films over the Net. It's all coming together."

To allow copies to be made, the DVD Copy Control Association will have to make "adaptations" to the group's encryption technology, which is called the Content Scramble System, or CSS, Larson said. The association, made up of Hollywood studios, consumer electronics and software companies, licenses CSS to those in the DVD industry to protect content.

In a statement, the association said that an updated version of CSS could allow retailers to place kiosks on showroom floors and allow consumers to watch as a digital movie recording is placed on a blank DVD while they wait. The association didn't say whether any merchants were considering such a plan, but McInerney said he predicted that retailers might find such kiosks appealing because no longer would they need to stock shelves with prepackaged copies of movies.

"A retailer could increase the size of their movie libraries without taking up additional floor space," McInerney said.

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12 comments

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baby steps
Well I think it's a step in the right direction, hopefully this will be a trend in the media industries. Sure people steal their work but finding it does get tiresome for most and it's generally easier to purchase it. Everyone has to just realize they have to get products to people with as much instant gratification as possible, that's all we ask, hehe.
Posted by chuchucuhi (233 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Somehow, the studios will screw it up
You just know that even though this sounds like a
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/627/43/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/627/43/</a>
good idea, the studios will manage to screw it up, offend users and this will end up being a disaster.
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a little late in the curve
With new DVD players sporting a USB port for connecting flash drives and USB drives and playing media files off those devices, do-it yourself DVD discs are behind the curve.

In a year, hardly anyone will want to bother with burning a disc of their media files when they can plug their 400GB hard drive based movie collection directly into a console DVD player.

The filmmakers need to revise their business models so the content file itself secures the revenue stream.

Advertising tickers, perhaps? Old-fashioned commercials built into legally free files. Related product order links, perhaps?
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They let you make one dvd...than that dvd fails to burn correct
or gets easily damaged, or just simply doesn't play after several months, which happens to many burned dvd's vs pressed dvd's...than you're back to square one and the studios will want you to buy another download.

Just more bs from the studios.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not only one copy.
The FluxDVD software burns a copy with errors
that will still play but is hard to copy. I
imagine their software must maintain a database
of titles burned to restrict you to burn one
copy, but you could always roll-back the
database or burn it in a VM that doesn't save
the changes to disk.

Further, the content is simply MPEG4 with AC3
audio. You could always use software to split
out the streams and remux them external to their
application. It's a pain, but once scripted you
can go from FluxDVD image to DRM-free unlimited
copy DVDs.

I'm not interested in doing it myself, but I
imagine it wouldn't take someone that cared to
more than a few days to whip up a utility with a
nice GUI to do it for you.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Another bad idea.
Ok, so they're suggesting that stores will have a kiosk where people can go and order the movies to be burned while they wait. I guess they're following the fast food restaurants technique. Now, is this going to be cheaper than buying the $5.99 already available on the shelf, or is it going to cost the same or more? I mean, we all want savings. New technology is supposed to bring savings and convenience.

Now, I think my memory serves me well, but I remember Tower Records back in the 90's, when cd burners were coming out, offering a service in which buyers will approach this automated machine, punch in the songs they want, pay, and then get those songs burned onto a cd-r. Walk away with your tunes in a cd-r. That didn't seem to have lasted very long. So, where's the innovation in offering these "burning" services for movies.

I think what Circuit City is offering is a better idea; selling the movies converted into PSP and iPod formats. I'm sure the MPAA will have an issue with it.

This whole thing of selling burned dvd's is just nonsense.
Posted by Dead Soulman (245 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Circuit City
They are not actually offering this service. This was overzealous signage about a vaporware service. At present this service would be flat out illegal, and not something CC would tangle with.
Their pricing was also ridiculously high.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Link Flag
underwhelmed, if that's a word
I hate to be a party pooper, but people who download movies off the web have been able to burn them to DVD for a very long time now...

Of course you're referring to those who actually "did the right thing" and paid for their download. But who cares? The unpleasant fact is that these services are directly competing with the less legal alternatives and the studios are going to have to do better than give the paying customers a limited, half-assed approximation of the value a "pirated" content provides. It did cost more afterall, so the customer has an expectation that it is going to provide more value than the free alternative. Part of that value is being legal, but that's not enough on its own.

Their restrictions are making ZERO headway against content being posted online. I can rip ANY disc I want into whatever format I want. If I were inclined to post it online there is no barrier to doing so.
Crippling the paying users is not an effective way of stemming online file swapping. Going after the file swapping sites (much as I hate to acknowledge it) is one step. Giving paying customers the incentive to remain paying customers by providing the value and convenience they desire is the other. I don't know why this is so hard to understand.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
already reality
"A retailer could increase the size of their movie libraries without taking up additional floor space," McInerney said."

--&gt; that is already reality in fareast countries like Vietnam, thailand, etc.

I was offered a library of 15.000 dvd titles on a store as big as my bathroom. and the half of it was occupied by the two daughters of the inhabitor -sitting on the ground a burning my dvds. it was amazing - they worked with hightec highspeed dvd recorders that i would expect in a highsecurity lab - but the shop barely had windows, airconditioning and was located in kind of a slum :-)
Posted by mailschorsch (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Crazy Crazy
I can just see the line at the kiosk now
askintuition.com
Posted by texxavery (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Strategy?
I thought Hollywood's digital "strategy" consisted of prosecuting
teenagers and putting scary FBI warnings in movies that you can't
skip through. They have always seemed more interested in
browbeating and restrictions than consumer convenience and fair
use.
Posted by sbwinn (216 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Special DVDs?
So now not only will we have to pay inflated prices for crappy movies but we will get raped with inflated prices for the special DVDs that will have to be used. Hollywood can go diddle themselves.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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