by Timothy Lee
Wed, Dec 5th 2007 6:13am
For years, DRM critics have been arguing that the technology isn't so much about stopping piracy as it is about taking away traditional fair use privileges and then selling them back to you. I've agreed with this for a while, but I never thought I'd see a major DRM vendor admit it so candidly: Steve Jobs has apparently been pitching Hollywood studios on the idea of selling "premium" DVDs that include an iTunes-compatible version of the movie. For an extra $3 or $4, you can buy the privilege of playing your legally-purchased movie on the device of your choice—well, the Apple-manufacturered device of your choice, anyway. Only the DMCA makes this kind of extortion possible. Tools like HandBrake make it possible to convert a DVD to an iPod-compatible format without any help from Apple, but Handbrake is an illegal "circumvention device" under the DMCA. Compare that to the CD, which was developed long before the DMCA and comes without copy protection. The courts have held that "space-shifting" your CDs to a portable music device is a fair use. So you can legally import your CD collection to your iPod, or any other device, without paying a penny. But Steve Jobs apparently wants to charge you $4 for the privilege of doing the same with your DVDs.
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