Archive for December 4th, 2006

New copyright exemptions went into effect at the end of November, and it’s still illegal to copy a DVD to your iPod for personal use. The proposed exemptions to allow copying commercial DVDs to portable media players were rejected. The new copyright exemptions are in effect for three years and additional information is available at the U.S Copyright Web site.

Consumers can NOT copy DVDs for personal use, but film professors can use software to copy movie clips from the discs for educational use. Huh? And there is an exemption where the blind can now use applications to hack and read copy protected books. This is bizarre. It’s okay to space and time shift your video, yet it’s illegal for protected (e.g. DVD) content under the DMCA rules to be copied to your iPod?!

But, Wal-Mart steps up to save the day and is now offering the general public a chance to buy a DVD…say Lord of the Rings and pay $2-$4 extra for a downloadable copy that can be played on a laptop, portable video device, or both. According to CNN, 40 percent of all DVDs sold in the U.S. are sold at Wal-Mart.

When customers buy “Lord of the Rings”, they can choose to pay $1.97 more to play it on portable devices, $2.97 more to play it on PCs or laptops, or $3.97 more to play it on either portable devices or PCs/laptops. But not in iPods. According to the WalMarts Web site;

The Portable format is optimized for on-the-go viewing using ‘PlayForSure’ portable video players. If played on a PC, the image quality will not be as good as the higher resolution Standard format. These videos are not compatible with Apple iPods. Portable format videos are encoded at a 320 x 240 resolution with an average bit rate of 500 kbps.

Any movie that is downloaded from Wal-Mart will be stored in a user’s Wal-Mart Video Download Manager as well as their Windows Media Library. Users can only have the movie on one computer at a time, but they can re-register the license on any number of computers, meaning it is possible to play it on the computer with the license and then move it to another computer only if you move the license.

I’ve always learned to frame debates or arguments in terms of the average person, not the looney edge-case fringe, but I would argue this is kind of confusing!

This is a spiraling vortex of ruin and doesn’t support the consumer content value chain…We buy a title, not a particular file for a title (so, we buy video once, for all devices!).


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