On Friday, the DVD Copy Control Association reported that they had finalized an agreement with Hollywood studios that will let consumers download movies from the Internet, and save them to a DVD that can be played on other DVD players. This new digital rights management (DRM) technology — also known as “copy protection” — will prevent the DVD from being copied. Apparently, the approach hinges on using special DVD blanks that have a serial code recorded on it, presumably to help track pirates who infringe on the copyrights of the downloaded content.
This approach has a familiar ring, which leads me to expect that it won’t fly. Does anyone remember the CD-R blanks with the special encoding (and a higher price) that were required to make CDs that would play on some CD audio players? They didn’t last long in the marketplace. I don’t see why consumers would be any more willing to go that route for movies. Especially when it appears that the downloaded DVDs will not play on computers or other devices that did not have the required copy protection circuitry.
Downloading movies from the Internet is likely to have as big an impact on the DVD disc market as downloading music has had on CDs, but it won’t be until the selection is as broad and the portability is as complete as it is now for music. This doesn’t mean no copy protection at all, but it does mean that the system will have to be more transparent to the end user.