A Timebomb Ticking

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The last couple months there’s been some stirrings about copy protection.

If you’d like to know a big reason why, take a look at the price of DVD recorders, and its media.

Prices on the recorders are hitting the $250, and prices for the media are reaching the $1 point.

Perhaps even more telling, openly commercial programs are popping up offering DVD copying.

For right now, it seems like most of the action is not pure DVD copying per se, but rather conversion of DVDs into compressed modes like VCDs and DIVX, which can fit a movie into one or two CD-Rs.

But that will inevitably change as the DVD alternative cheapens.

Up to now, the software used hasn’t exactly been simple-to-use, as in Joe SixPack’s kid simple-to-use, but that appears to be changing rapidly.

The Hypocrisy Begins

Isn’t it amazing how people who won’t back up their hard drive suddenly find the need to “backup” permanent media?

BSA recently did a survey in which 60% of those surveyed said they rarely paid for copyrighted materials, but only 12% admit outright that they just steal them.

So take three guesses what I think when I see a “copying is wonderful and essential but of course I never do it” email.

It’s going to be interesting to see the arguments for MP3s morph into DVD arguments.

Unlike a music CD, a movie is a movie. It’s one whole part, not a dozen independent songs. It will be hard to argue that you only wanted two scenes in the middle of Harry Potter, and the movie companies are ripping you off by making you buy the whole movie.

Movies cost a lot of money to make. The Harry Potter movie, for instance, cost $150 million dollars, which is far, far more than any record album ever cost to produce and promote. Yet the DVD costs little more than a music CD. At the least, a movie DVD looks to be a better deal than a music CD.

I’m sure we’ll soon hear arguments that DVDs are a big ripoff, too, and that they should only cost a dollar. The question becomes, “Will Joe Sixpack (really, his kid) think that and want a DVD-recorder, if not this Christmas, then next?

A new reason/excuse already popping up is conversion of VCR tapes to DVD format. While that may seem reasonable on the surface, and I don’t doubt that some will actually do this, I have to wonder how many will say that’s what they’re doing as opposed to actually doing it.

DVDs take a lot more time to rip than music CDs. Even on the fastest machines, it still takes a couple hours, and that’s not going to get really reduced any time soon. Two years from now, maybe it’ll be an hour instead of two.

Frankly, it’s one of the few real justifications an average person would have to buy a fast machine nowadays.

I fully expect to see DVD-recording being touted as a reason to buy a mucho gigabyte machine, if not this Christmas, then definitely by next. That will create some interesting tensions between Hollywood and the tech honchos.

Again, will the time and effort required to do this discourage most people? Will people buy a recorder, spend a dollar or so per blank, rent DVDs, and then tax their machines a couple hours to make them? Or will they just fork over the $15-$20?

I suspect the time and effort required will be far more likely than the relative costs to keep this from the mainstream, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ed

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