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Movie Downloads Not a Panacea, Even With Price Drops

Om talks about how Amazon's UnBox service will let you rent or buy movies online like some other places. This along with the fact that established player Guba is lowering prices has everyone thinking: price war. We still don't know what Apple's entry into this space will be, but you can bet it will be competitively priced.

Pretty much all of these services are tied to Windows Media, which means they are Windows only services. In some cases, Internet Explorer specific. That means: no Macintosh support (Mac supports only non-DRMed Windows Media files), no Linux support, or anything else for that matter. Yes, you'll be able to burn DVDs if you buy the stuff, but you'd better have a relatively recent DVD player that supports the method they use to "encode" the DVDs with DRM.

The reports I read on this "mechanism" for putting DRM on burned DVDs suggests the process is highly prone to not working. The DVD you burn may or may not work on your DVD player. A newer method under discussion would require the use of special media.

Bah. People aren't going to put up with this nonsense, even if the price is good. DRM, at least the way that Windows Media implements it, is not consumer friendly. Not in the least. Apple's iTunes has the least objectionable implementation of DRM. That combined with good pricing has given Apple a large chunk of the market. Unfortunately, the content makers don't like Apple's method. Not because of consumer friendliness, but because Apple refuses to license their DRM technology to third parties.

The only way this business is going to take off is if they either come up with a truly cross-platform DRM that is as flexible as Apple's, or, better yet, completely ditch the DRM. Content is going to find it's way onto peer-to-peer networks one way or the other, even with the DRM. In fact, Disney is reported to have been influenced to distribute video content on Apple's iTunes Music Store because they were shown that a high-quality episode of ABC's popular show "Desperate Housewives" showed up on Bittorrent a mere 15 minute after it aired on TV.


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