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?").