Back in April I blogged this:
You might remember Judge Marilyn Patel from her ruling against Napster in A&M Records vs Napster, the ruling that sent the music industry into a death spiral of war with its customer base and insured that the universal jukebox which was so close in the year 2000 would not exist in our lifetimes.
Now she’s hearing another big case pitting tech innovators against media conglomerates who don’t even know what’s in their own interests.
Sure enough, as anyone could have predicted, Judge Patel ruled against Real DVD and by extension, against fair use, freedom of information and ultimately against the interest of the very media companies she ruled in favor of. When 90% of U.S. consumers believe they should be able to make backup copies of the DVDs they purchase, its a futile battle to try to prevent them from doing so.
And just as with Napster, whose centralized servers potentially gave the music industry greater control of how music was distributed online, Judge Patel has ruled illegal a product made by a legitimate company that offers STRONGER copy protection than that used on DVDs.
From the LA Times editorial board:
When Hollywood tries to preserve last century’s business models and “release windows” that restrict availability, it risks missing the opportunity that new technologies present to increase consumption. Redbox, whose kiosks promote impulse rentals, is just one example. Other targets include companies that use new technologies to improve consumers’ experience with the movies and television shows they’ve acquired. Last week, for example, the major studios and an affiliated licensing group won court rulings against products that enable consumers to copy DVDs onto a PC or home video jukebox — even though the resulting copies were better protected against piracy than the original DVDs.
RealNetworks’ RealDVD software and Kaleidescape’s home servers drew fire in part because they can make permanent copies of the rented or borrowed discs. But people who are so inclined can do that already with tools that are cheaper and less restrictive. More important to the studios, RealNetworks and Kaleidescape add value to a movie collection by making it easier to manage and watch. In so doing, they increase the incentive to own a movie rather than just rent it.
One lesson from the technology industry is that there is a trade-off between controlling products and unleashing the innovation that spurs growth. Just look at how well the iPhone has fared since Apple invited independent developers to create applications for it. Hollywood should remember the principle underlying the case against China: Centralized control stifles a market. Rather than trying to stop potentially disruptive technologies and business models, Hollywood should find a way to harness them.
This is just another example of our sclerotic and corrupt system choking itself. When short-sited industries write their own regulations intent solely on protecting rental incomes and antiquated business models, everyone loses, including the big Hollywood moguls.