Steve Jobs pitching "premium," iPod-loadable DVDs

Techdirt reports that Steve Jobs has been pitching studio execs on a scheme whereby DVD owners can pay extra for the "privilege" of ripping their DVDs -- but only for playback on iPods and iPhones. The thing is, Jobs fought the music industry back in the early iTunes day, arguing that people who buy CDs should have the right to rip them without paying anything extra.

So what's the difference? DRM -- Digital Rights Management. This is the anti-copying software that studios put on DVDs, allegedly to "stop piracy." But DRM isn't doing anything to stop piracy (people who want to pirate DVDs just break the DRM, because it's impossible to stop determined attackers from copying bits on their own computers). It seems like the primary use for DRM is to sell you back the rights you used to get for free, so that the studios can pick your pocket every time you find a new way to use the media you buy from them.

As I've said before: this isn't a business model, it's a urinary tract infection. Before DRM, all the uses you could imagine for your media flowed in a healthy gush -- rip a CD, make a backup, put it on an iPod, make a mix disc, stream it from a home server, etc. Now it comes in a painful, drip-by-drip trickle -- want to watch your DVD on an iPod? That'll be three bucks please. Want to make a backup? Sorry, nope, you have to buy another copy (as the old MPAA head Jack Valenti used to say: "You can't back up a set of wine glasses -- why should you be able to back up your movies?"). Link (via /.)

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  1. I don’t see why you’re so negative about this… Steve Jobs is doing the world a great service by giving us a legal way to buy access to our fundamental rights as consumers. Why, by some estimates he could be saving you over $371 per DVD!

  2. Cory, there’s no mention in the Techdirt piece about paying for the right to rip, there’s merely a reference to paying for the presence of an extra iPod-ready file on the disc.

    In fact, nothing about this proposal changes the right to rip (or lack thereof) in any way, shape or form. So what are you talking about?

  3. “Techdirt reports that Steve Jobs has been pitching studio execs on a scheme whereby DVD owners can pay extra for the “privilege” of ripping their DVDs — but only for playback on iPods and iPhones. The thing is, Jobs fought the music industry back in the early iTunes day, arguing that people who buy CDs should have the right to rip them without paying anything extra.”

    And, for Jobs, DRM is a nice way to lock in consumers to his particular platform.

    @1… from that article on the $371 savings,

    “It would seem like ripping a movie yourself for free would be cheaper, but if you consider that it takes at least 90 minutes to convert a DVD… Even more if you factor in the legal fees of fighting a DMCA case for bypassing the copy protection.”

    Huh? 90 minutes to rip a DVD and convert it to a different format? Man seriously needs an new computer. And does he actually do nothing but sit there and stare at the screen while the DVD is being converted? Clearly someone talking about something he has zero experience with.

    That’s why they call them analysts!

    And when was the last time anyone got a DMCA notice for ripping a DVD for their own use (as opposed to filesharing the rip)? I’d like to see one DMCA notice sent out in such a case.

  4. This is just another plot by the Conspiracy to try to steal our slack and sell it back to us! Well it ain’t gonna work you friggin-fraggin Pinks! If I don’t want to pay for the things I buy, I damn well won’t! I love my slack and I ain’t never gonna let it go!

    Praise Bob,
    Reverend Dr. Shortfatsteve

  5. The problem is, Steve Jobs has no choice…

    It IS cyncial and manipulative, but it is also necessary for him.

    The iPod has great video capability, but nothing to WATCH on it. People have these piles of DVDs, and keep buying more.

    You should, and there is no technical reason why not, have iTunes rip DVDs and shove them on your iPod (and allow you to watch them on the plane without burning battery life spinning the disk around).

    But to do so would violate the DMCA, because there is some form of magical copyright control. So if Apple did that, they would get sued and sued bigtime by the studios.

    This would give them the opportunity going forward, and would also eliminate the trivial “check the CD out from the library and pop it into iTunes” problem the music industry claims to have.

    The root problem is the DMCA anti-circumvention prohibition.

  6. From the everyday consumer standpoint, yes, it seems like an evil plot to make you buy your fundamental rights. But look at it from the film and music industries’ sides. The music industry has already gone down the drain because CD sales have plummeted. One person buys a CD, rips it, makes it publicly available, and everyone else who wants that CD needs only to look for a free copy. The film industry knows it’s only a matter of time before they’re next, with technology growing and getting cheaper.

    How can you expect these industries to survive when we’re taking their products and giving them away to everyone else for free?

  7. Gruppler, I’m sure that would be a very reasonable argument, if that were what’s actually happening.

  8. Teresa, so what is actually happening? Are there hordes of people who download movies from Mininova, watch them, and then scoot over to Blockbuster to rent them?

  9. Give me a break that the movie studios are forcing poor Steve Jobs to do this. If the studios add a file to DVDs that can only be played on Apple equipment, that’s a big win for Jobs at the expense of his competitors. Steve Jobs cares about as much for your ability to watch media in the way you want as the studios do. All Jobs cares about is beating his competitors, and if lock-in to his hardware is the way to do that, he’s shown he’s more than happy to do so.

  10. MPAA industry assembles cookie-cutter, focus-grouped, PHB-approved band
    and produces CD of said band.

    CD buying public finds CD to contain excessive amounts of ‘Teh Sux’ and
    turns to alternative and independent labels.

    MPAA industry notices drop in sales and goes ‘Oh NOES!1! Can Has
    Pirates?1?’. Demands more DRM.

    [Lather. Rinse. Repeat.]

  11. I believe in the ultimate power of the consumer. Don’t buy this crippled crap and it will go away. Remember the Edsel?

  12. Cory: this doesn’t make any sense. I love you, but I think you’re in over your head tech-wise.

    The whole point of ITMS DRM is that the file you get is encoded for your use with a special key accessible to iTunes using your unique user ID and password. So every copy of “Die Hard 4″ downloaded from the ITMS is a unique version of that file. That’s how their DRM works.

    DVDs are made from molds. Every single Region 1 WideScreen special edition copy of “Die Hard 4″ is the same as every other copy. If they want to use Apple’s DRM for an iPod-ready copy on the disc, they’d need a separate mold for every single disc, or they’d have to switch to burning them all on DVD-R or something. Which would be stupid. Alternatively, they could put an iPod playable version that iTunes could add DRM to once you load it in your computer, but to do that they’d still need a non-DRM version on the disc to start with. And they’re not going to do that because it would be stupid.

    And that’s not to mention the fact that you can still rip the original!

    The only way this would work is if the special iPod-enhanced copy of the DVD just let you download the movie for free from the ITMS. You may not like it, but you wouldn’t have to buy it either.

    So what’s all the fuss? You wouldn’t lose anything and you might get a non-DRM pre-decoded version on every disc. Sounds pretty win-don’t lose to me.

    r y jst ngry t Stv Jbs r smthng? r y gng t pst bt hw Stv s th dvl vry tm h rlss nw prdct? CHLL T.

  13. Tubman (10):

    Teresa, so what is actually happening? Are there hordes of people who download movies from Mininova, watch them, and then scoot over to Blockbuster to rent them?

    If there were, the situation would be a lot more like what actually happens in music distribution than Gruppler’s “just give everything away” model.

    (How come everyone who wants to argue against new models of sales and distribution characterizes them as “just give everything away for free,” when no one who’s arguing for them is using that model?)

    We keep seeing reports that listening to illegally downloaded music correlates with increased music sales. Also: some downloaded music is stuff the listener would never have bought. That’s not a lost sale. Some is stuff the listener will buy anyway. Again, not a lost sale. What you’re left with are two categories: music the listener would have bought, but now doesn’t buy because he can listen for free. This appears to be a much smaller fraction than the industry says it is. The other category is people who wouldn’t have bought that music if they hadn’t heard it, but now buy it because they have. This appears to be a larger fraction than the music industry admits.

    What the industry focuses on is a single transaction: person listening to music they haven’t paid for. This is like equating a person browsing a book in a bookstore with one who is reading a stolen book.

    It couldn’t have been more evident that changes were going to come to the music industry. Instead of working with that, the industry dug its heels in and insisted that the internet would be the death of music sales. Instead, the internet is now a major commercial distribution channel, via several very different distribution and compensation models.

    The movie and video people are going through the same process, only it’s not quite as awful because they’re not as stupid as the music industry. Still, it’s funny watching them try to force downloaded digital info to behave like a plastic-boxed videotape. I remember when they were screaming that home videotaping was going to kill the movie industry.

  14. it might be worth noting the original story techdirt links to actually says

    “the studios are hoping to create “premium” versions of DVDs that include a copy of the movie that can easily be put on an iPod”

    not steve jobs or apple

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