Hollywood backs managed copying of movie discs

Hollywood is prepared to permit managed copying of movie discs for private use, the chairmans of its main trade group has revealed, but has no plans to abandon DRM any time soon.

Hollywood backs managed copying of movie discs

Dan Glickman, who heads the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), told an industry conference that managed copying should be available for HD DVD discs by the end of the year, adding that he would like to see it enabled for standard DVDs as well, though this would require a new DRM system. He made no mention of Blu-ray, the rival high-definition format to HD DVD.

Managed copying permits the duplication of disc content so that it can be stored on a computer or dedicated device such as an Apple TV. To be acceptable to the movie industry any system for managed copying would have to be able to maintain the DRM so that the copy could not be distributed any further, either by burning a DRM-free copy to a fresh disc or uploading it to the Internet.

EMI recently announced that it would make its entire music collection available without DRM, with Apple’s iTunes the first downloads store to offer the unrestricted music. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs said yesterday that other music companies are ‘thinking very hard’ about following suit. But Glickman said Hollywood is committed to copy protection.

‘We collectively affirm our ongoing support for digital rights management,’ he said.

But, he added, that is not to say that Hollywood is happy with the current situation and called on the entertainment and technology industries to get together and work out a single, interoperable system that would allow all DRM content to be played across all devices.

‘My philosophy is that we can make interoperability and DRM work if all parties truly want to make it work. With this much brainpower at our disposal, it’s a question of collective will far more than technological capacity,’ he said. ‘Our goal is a diverse, high-quality, hassle-free consumer experience, one that makes the most effective case possible not merely for the legitimate consumer marketplace, but its vast superiority’ over pirated content.

Critics of interoperable DRM, most notably Steve Jobs, have pointed out that closed systems can be more easily, quickly and effectively updated if hackers manage to break the copy protection. Apple has regularly and effectively patched iTunes in this way, in part because its content licensing deals with the music industry and movie and television studios require it to do so. But the Coral Consortium, a music and movie industry-backed interoperable DRM project, rejects this, arguing that if Apple adopted a DRM technology such as its own that the industries explicitly advocate, then such licensing restrictions would not apply.

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