[news=http://www.slyck.com/newspics/drm3.jpg]Perspective carries tremendous weight when analyzing the success of online movie distribution. From an unauthorized perspective, virtually any title or release is easily obtainable via eDonkey2000, BitTorrent, the Newsgroups and so on. The converse isn’t so straight forward.
Authorized online movie distribution has not yet reflected the success of music stores such as iTunes. iTunes and its ilk benefit from an extensive catalog of over 2 million songs, quickly released material, and a remote semblance of portability. Authorized movie distribution progress, from such vendors as Movielink, has moved at a much slower pace. Online movie stores not only are forced to compete with free networks, but the limitations of available bandwidth - it’s much easier to download a 5 megabyte iTunes file than a 1 gig movie.
There’s not much Movielink can do about bandwidth limitations, but it realizes its ability to change aspects of this world it can control. A serious factor limiting the popularity of authorized movies is portability. Once downloaded, the consumer can only play the file on his or her computer. If the consumer is lucky enough to have a graphics card with video out, then watching the purchased film on TV is possible – but only within the confines of a 6 or 12 foot s-video cable.
If all goes well, films downloaded from Movielink will not longer have this limitation. In an announcement made today, Movielink hopes to enable their customers to burn their purchased movie onto blank DVD media. This would eliminate forcing the consumer to watch a movie on a computer screen, and enhance the freedom to play a movie via stand alone DVD player. The announcement was made in conjunction with their new partner, Sonic Solutions. Sonic’s role is to provide the pivotal “DVD on demand” technology, which provides the necessary DVD burning framework. Sonic provides the technological infrastructure to burn movies, however remains flexible for the vendor to apply the necessary DRM (Digital Rights Management) software.
DRM has been – and continues to be – one of the inhibiting factors that has prevented authorized movies from appearing on blank DVD media. The conundrum being that piracy concerns has deterred the portability of movie files, which in turn has inhibited the success of distributors such as Movielink. With unauthorized movie distribution heading for mainstream popularity, authorized vendors are fighting with their backs to the wall.
But the fight doesn’t end with free networks, DRM concerns or even piracy. Authorized vendors still need to convince the movie studios that this is a good idea for all parties concerned. A representative of Movielink told Slyck.com that their company is onboard for allowing consumers to burn movies to DVD media. Unfortunately, the movie industry has not yet agreed upon a secure format for DVD burning, and licensing agreements for this type of service is also in question.
Until then, Movielink and Sonic’s concept will remain little more than a good idea.