Cory Doctorow has got a short but decent article in Popular Science on how Hollywood has managed to get the tech industry to sell out the consumer starting with the development of DVDs and how it’s leading to stagnation in that industry.
Think of all the things you can do with a track from a CD now that you couldn’t do 10 years ago: rip it to your laptop, turn it into a ring tone, send it to your friends, burn a mix. Many of these capabilities are illegal, and the recording industry has tried to stop them all, but they’re out there, challenging the old rules and feeling their place in the market. Innovators have tried to enable the same flexibility for the DVD. Last year 321 Studios released software that let you back up prerecorded DVDs, but the MPAA sued it into bankruptcy before a court could rule on whether or not the product was legal.
Just last month, this magazine gave a Best of What’s New award to a $27,000 movie jukebox from Kaleidescape, praising the maker’s efforts to appease Hollywood by locking down content on the device so it can’t be shared. Kaleidescape thinks the product is within the boundaries of its DVD-CCA license, but my Deep Throat on the cartel says the group disagrees and is currently deciding how the company will be punished. Penalties range from a stern warning to fines to lawsuits. (When I called the DVD-CCA for an official line, I got this reply: “I’ve been asked to tell you we have no comment.” “Who asked you to tell me that?” “I can’t tell you.”)
Of course it doesn’t help that Hollywood and the tech companies are often one and the same these days. Companies like Sony, which once fought an 8 year battle to ensure that your VCR would be able to record TV programs, now own many of the studios that produce the content you play in your Sony DVD player. When you own both halves of the equation you tend to go with whichever one appears the most profitable and to hell with the consumer.