In the fallout from the news that Warner Bros. plans to use BitTorrent to distribute movies, many people have noticed the shortcomings of the service that Mike pointed out, such as the fact that downloaded films can only be viewed on computers, and are (again) noting that the entertainment industries are taking a completely reactive strategy to digital technology. Their actions are predicated more on stopping the loss of sales from physical formats, than realizing they can actually grow their overall businesses by embracing technology, offering new services and innovating their business models. The BitTorrent plan might be a furtive first step down this path, but that idea is belied by the restrictions on the downloaded content. Tim Lee points to a post by our good friend Patrick Ross, where he says he won't use the new service because, like previous movie download offerings, the restrictions make it rather pointess. Ross rightly says that he should be able to move the content onto the device of his choice, like with music. Lee's response is also on the money: that the ease with which people can do this with music is because the CD predates DRM, and that had the music industry been able to control the licensing of necessary DRM technology -- like the movie industry has -- the rate of innovation would have slowed and the market would still be waiting on products that support new business models, like MP3 players. This is what's going on with movies, where, as Lee again says, Hollywood's stranglehold and obsession with stopping piracy at the expense of usability has prevented the advent of any decent (or successful) movie download services. Clearly Ross understands how using copy protection and DRM makes content less valuable, which is a little surprising coming from somebody who calls himself "a believer in DRM". He's also supported the idea that consumers can "vote with their wallets" when it comes to DRM -- just as he himself has done, meaning Warner Bros.' heavy restrictions have cost it a customer. This illustrates the folly of current entertainment thinking, and the industry's reliance on DRM: it would rather assuage its paranoia about potential losses to piracy, than deliver useful products that will grow its business.
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