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Wrecking the DVD format 16 February 2005 Edition
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I think most of us have now grown weary of the antics of the recording industry in its vain attempts to thwart the average user's ability to make backup copies of audio CDs or rip them for the purpose of format-shifting.

By messing around with the basic format of these CDs and/or introducing errors that significantly reduce the effectiveness of the inbuilt error-correction, the industry has made no dent in piracy -- yet they have rendered a growing number of car stereo and other playback devices incompatible with their wares.

I know quite a few people who no longer spend money on these "enhanced audio disks" simply because they be bothered with media that may or may not work with their CD players.

Instead, these people consider these copy-protection mechanisms sufficient justification to simply download already-ripped copies of those albums from their favourite P2P network.

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Obviously the industry is doing nobody any favours by engaging in a battle of wits with pirates, in which they're clearly outgunned by a huge margin.

Well knock me down with a feature -- but the movie industry seems to be following the same lame path.

News this morning is that, as of mid this year, commercial DVD releases will likely include a new copy-protection scheme from Macrovision.

Just like the lame methods used by the music industry, there are no guarantees that this new anti-rip technology will be compatible with existing DVD players -- so you might end up buying or renting disks that you can't actually watch.

I feel sorry for the DVD rental and retail shops when this technology starts rolling out the doors. If there's any real degree of incompatibility then the complaints will likely come thick and fast.

Then, to make the whole thing seem even crazier, the movie industry acknowledges that this copy-protection system won't defeat all ripping software.

Ain't that sweet?

Inconvenience goodness knows how many customers and resellers for the sake of adding a copy-protection scheme that, it is admitted, probably won't work very well.

I can see that it'll be only a matter of weeks before those who delight in creating the latest and greatest ripping software will have come up with versions that happily ignore Macrovision's technology -- and then the industry will be right back at ground zero -- except that they'll have just pissed off a certain percentage of their market because the new disks won't play properly.

Here's a thought..

Maybe the recording and movie industries ought to wake up to the fact that there is a certain percentage of the population who won't buy a genuine disk no matter how cheap it is. When these people illegally rip a copy, they're not depriving anyone of revenue.

There's another chunk of the market who'd buy the genuine disk if the price was right but want to be able to make a backup copy or perform some format-shifting for convenience. The copying activities that these guys engage in is also not a source of lost revenue.

Finally, there are the professional pirates who rip disks and sell the copies. These are the guys that the industries need to focus on. The problem is that the lame copy-protection schemes being used, or about to be used, are so trivial to circumvent that they have no effect on these pirates.

But, once again, we have an industry which assumes all of its customers are crooks.

I haven't bought a new CD in maybe four years (but I don't use P2P networks either) and if I find that DVDs have become incompatible with my DVD player (when I get a new one to replace my stolen one) then I'll also stop buying those too.

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