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MPAA chairman promises legal DVD copying, interoperable DRM

The Invisible Hand

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With all the debate about whether or not music actually requires the use of any Digital Rights Management at all, it's worth getting the collective opinion of the Motion Pictures Association of America on the subject. And if we believe the word of MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman this week, DRM is definitely here to stay when it comes to films and TV.

Glickman was speaking at the Variety Digital Rights Management conference in Los Angeles and not only pledged the MPAA’s support for DRM, but for interoperable DRM and said that this year High Definition DVDs would be released which will enable customers to make authorized copies of the content they purchase. HD will achieve it this year and SD perhaps next, he said.

Glickman also said that consumers should be able to enjoy authorized DVD content on their home networks and on portable devices and cited the MPAA’s membership of the Coral Consortium which relies on technology from Intertrust and which is dedicated to allowing one DRM to talk to another, to the point where content managed under one DRM, can transfer to the control of a different DRM.

It is one thing for a spokesman for the content industries to say this, but it’s another for an operator to actually give way to the idea. The content creator wants his content to have as few impediments as possible and while MPAA members can insist that companies selling their content go to some trouble to protect it, we can’t quite see how they can insist to someone such as iTunes that they can also let it be copied so that it is protected under the auspices of another operator’s DRM.

The MPAA should be able to get the technologists to agree how it is done, but getting someone like Vodafone to allow video bought from its service to also play on a Telefonica provided handset is another matter.

Glickman alluded to all of this saying that the MPAA is committed to making interoperability a reality and that the primary barrier was politics. “DRM doesn’t have to be an impediment in our lives. It should be our ultimate goal to deliver effortless, largely invisible protections.”

And invisible is the operative word here. The moment consumers can feel the hand of DRM on their shoulder, especially while doing something innocent, is the moment that for many, frustration begins.

Glickman also revealed that in 2006 the US box office was up by 5.5 per cent, but we’d have to argue with those figures, since it was down in dollar terms, but perhaps he meant in number of tickets sold which did reach 1.5 billion tickets

He also said that about 4,000 digital cinema screens had been enabled globally, with most of them in the US, and that this number would double during 2007.

Copyright © 2007, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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