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Good attempt, guys

12/11/07 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright, Calgary

I recently decided to "upgrade" my old "Die Hard" DVDs as my original transfers which, while reasonable for the time, were substandard. Besides, the pack including the as-of-yet unwatched fourth installment so I figured it was a decent choice.

What's interesting about the fourth movie is the prominent labeling on it. This one comes with a "Digital Copy" on the second disc. You'd have thought that the first disc was in fact a digital copy given that it's a DVD but apparently not. Anyway, this "Digital Copy" is an attempt by the studio to do a decent thing: make a version of the movie available when you buy the DVD that can be transferred onto portable media. They don't want to remove the copy protection off of the DVD so they've actually supplied a second instance of the movie in Microsoft's "Plays For Sure" DRM standard. Therein lies the problem:

Not currently compatible with Apple's video iPod, Sony PSP or Microsoft Zune.

The DRM is so restrictive that even the three principle hardware players in the market -- Apple, Sony and Microsoft -- have DRM implementations sufficiently different that Fox studios won't support them. Heck, even the Zune which is by Microsoft, the same bunch who do the "Plays For Sure" system which this "Digital Copy" does work for, isn't compatible.

It's also worth noting that Microsoft considers the "Plays For Sure" to be an obsolete technology and this is why the Zune doesn't support it. I dislike DRM on a number of levels but the constant failure and abandonment of DRM technologies for which the content has been paid for by the consumer is the one I object to the most. The major movie studios did it with DIVX (not to be confused with DivX). Virgin did it with their online shop. Major League Baseball did it with their game downloads. Sony did with ATRAC and their music store. Any software company that shuts down its validation server has done the same thing. I have no doubt there are many other instances as well.

I guess that digital nirvana of "buy once, play anywhere" is still a fair ways off.


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