Saturday, July 07, 2007

DVD copy protection may ensnare legitimate users


I rent beaucoup DVD’s from Netflix and play most of them on the Imac that I bought in 2002. Most of them work fine, and widescreen movies are scaled to fit the screen mathematically.

I haven’t yet investigated what to get in the DVD market (HD, BluRay) and have had considerable trouble trying to burn my own on the Imac (I sent them to CVS finally). And some of the news I hear, besides the standardization, is not too encouraging.

But that refers to standalone players. Many people play their DVD’s on their pc’s (newer pc’s or macs) and imagine this scenario. These players incorporate copy protection, an outgrowth of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You rent or buy a new high definition DVD, and suddenly none of your high definition DVD’s play on your computer until you download a major software upgrade. The upgrade supplies new password that potential hackers have not cracked and published somewhere for their community or on the web.

There is an article by Keith Winstein in the Thursday, July 5, 2007 The Wall Street Journal, p. B3, “Technology Journal” called “Consumers May Get Caught in Piracy War: Strategy to Thwart Movie Copying Could Frustrate Innocent Users.”

The article theorizes that industry attempts to stay ahead of the crooks could drive honest consumers to bootlegged copies.

Again, I would wonder how all of this copy-protection software could thwart novice filmmakers who want to make DVD’s of their own material on their own machines. I did have a lot of difficulty on my own iMac, although that could have many other explanations.

I do my part to support artists. I really go see films (especially indies) in theaters, the old fashioned way.

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