Movielink, the movie download site owned by five major Hollywood studios, has apparently been up for sale for months, and unable to close a deal with any buyers. What's amusing about the story is that the buyers recognize what's apparent to pretty much everybody except the studios: that the sites suck. The sticking point in the potential deals has been buyers' desire to remove some of the restrictions the studios put on movies, in particular the inability for consumers to burn movies to DVDs so they can watch them in their DVD players. This saga seems so typical of the entertainment industry's attitude towards digital media -- a blind insistence that it knows best and that its approach simply can't be wrong. These would-be buyers realize that it's the entertainment business that must adapt to consumers, not the other way around. Until Hollywood realizes this, it's not going to amount to anything in digital media. Incidentally, one of the interested buyers was a group of investors led by Warren Lieberfarb, the guy who convinced Hollywood to embrace the DVD -- and was later fired from Warner Brothers after a difference of opinion on the company's strategy for the future. Here's a guy that took the DVD and shaped it into a product with which consumers were pretty happy, despite massive resistance from the studios. Little wonder, then, that he could probably do the same for downloads, but the studios' obsession with control and the appearance of security won't afford him the chance.
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