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Warner Playing in Torrents

Warner makes a play for illegals’ money.

The pricing for the service has also not been announced but sources reveal that television shows might cost as little as $1 while films might cost around the same amount as DVDs.

So let me get this straight. I will provide bandwidth for users across the country to download a movie legitimately, but I have to pay the same price as I would for a DVD? But at least I can get the movie conveniently at home. Seems like an unfair tradeoff, but my mind is open. What else is there?

Warner Bros also plans to sell permanent copies of television series and films online, that can later be burned onto backup DVDs.

Oh, that’s an important question answered. Gotta be able to backup my content.

However the burned copies can be played only on machines that are used for download and not on standard DVD players.

And there we have the non-starter. Warner Brothers is embracing this “technology of pirates.” Fighting them “over there” if you will. But the ship is sinking before it has even set sail. Warner is not offering a reduced price for the vast savings they will see in production and distribution costs. Nor is Warner allowing the buyer to use the purchased content in the way he/she sees fit. Who is going to pay full price for a movie he/she can only watch on a computer. We’ve all seen how well those PSP-only Universal Media Discs are selling. (I can not think of a more inaccurate name for this format than Universal Media Disc.)

Those on the bleeding edge of media use want to transcode their movies to portable players, transfer hard copies (DVD) to networked whole-house servers, and backup what they’ve purchased to protect from data loss (DVD-scratches or hard drive failure). And guess what? The bleeding edge will become the mainstream someday. Or it could if the MPAA wanted it to. Somehow I doubt their ability to have this foresight, even if they are marginally better than the RIAA.

Today it is illegal to backup a DVD you buy. A practical application of this is if you own some Disney movies for your kids and would like them to be able to pop the movies in to watch on their own. A bad idea is to allow the kiddos to do this with an original DVD. A good idea is to create a second copy of the DVD for kiddie consumption. But creating that second copy is illegal. Well, to be accurate, the idea of owning or making a copy isn’t illegal, but breaking the copy protection through software means is illegal.

Just like all of the RIAA’s feeble, misguided and possibly illegal attempts at copy protection, we’re in a state with movies where the users who do wish to pirate movies have no trouble bypassing all forms of copy protection. The users who simply want to make fair use of their purchased media are stuck. Either they do not know how to copy their movies or they have to make a conscious choice to break the law to do so.

The MPAA deserves a morsel of credit for at least attempting to meet the future distribution demands of its users. Unless the MPAA changes its tune quickly, we’re just going to hear about how they tried to fight pirates on the decks of their frigate and failed. The only response I can envision is further disenfranchising of the consumer.