There’s a new voice in the conflict over competing high-density blue-laser DVD standards. The HD Disc Consumer Advocacy Alliance has weighed in with a manifesto that declares that supporters of HD-DVD and Blu-ray “must set their differences aside and work to find a compromise for a single, unified high-definition optical disc format.”
I find this demand to be nothing short of astonishing. Where have these people been for the past few years? To paraphrase Claude Rains in “Casablanca“, this group seems to be saying that they’re shocked to discover that there is a conflict brewing over high-density DVD disc formats. The difference is that Rains’ Captain Renault character knew he was being disingenuous!
To ask the companies to “set aside” their differences is to naively ignore the forces at work. The competing standards don’t exist because some movie studios like one more than the other. It’s all about the intellectual property, and the billions of dollars at stake in licensing fees. A “single, unified” compromise format is going to cut companies out of the final licensing pool, which could be a death sentence for some of them. At this late date, the only sensible solution is to let the market decide.
The remaining points of the group’s manifesto are well-intentioned, aimed at protecting consumer rights and ease of use for copyrighted property, but again, I don’t see a compromise settlement as the solution. In fact, a single-solution would eliminate any consumer leverage to be able to vote with their dollars for the best solution. Instead, the movie studios would be free to take an “all or nothing” stance, and load up the system with copy protection systems.
So while I applaud the intentions of the Alliance, I think that their efforts are misguided and are not likely to have much impact on the situation.