Hollywood Baffles Me

by on January 12, 2007 · 24 comments

Via Techdirt, BusinessWeek reports that Hollywood (aside from Disney) is holding steadfast in its determination to make movie download services unappealing to consumers. This is just baffling:

What does Hollywood want from Steve Jobs? For starters, more protection for their films. “His user rules just scare the heck out of us,” one studio executive told me. Indeed, under Apple’s video iPod digital-rights-management scheme, folks can share their flicks with as many as three other iPod users.

That’s good for the guys who get free flicks, but it’s bad for Hollywood, which goes bat crazy over the notion of pirated freebies on the Internet. To them, losing a customer courtesy of the video iPod is just as bad. Add into the equation the new Apple TV, which would allow folks to put that movie on their TVs, and Hollywood sees more and more of its DVD bucks headed out the door.

I don’t know if this is the exec misunderstanding Apple’s DRM scheme, the reporter misunderstanding the exec, or me misunderstanding the whole passage, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s true that you can have your iTunes content on more than one iPod, but each iPod can only be linked to one copy of iTunes. So yes, you can have the same movie on three iPods. But it can’t be any three iPods–it has to be three iPods that have all of your content–and only your content–on them. Which means that, at most, this will allow family members to share movie downloads.

Now, the goofy thing about this is that even with the ability to watch movies on three iPods, Apple’s DRM scheme is still way more restrictive than what you can do with a traditional DVD. I can play a DVD on any DVD player in the world, and I can potentially share it with dozens of different people. If their goal is to make sure no one gets to watch a movie without paying Hollywood for the privilege, DVD-sharing is a much bigger threat than anything people can do with their iPods.

So I don’t understand who’s supposed to be “getting free flicks” or how Hollywood would be “losing a customer” by signing up with iTunes. Can anyone explain what the problem is supposed to be?

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