04.11.2007 11:34 AM
DRM crack in music distribution could extend to video

Now that the DRM stranglehold has begun to slip on music downloads, industry professionals are wondering if the same will happen for video. If it happens, it appears that Apple CEO Steve Jobs — the man whose influence broke the copy protection impasse with music — probably won’t be playing a repeat role.

Jobs, when prodded, hasn’t been so quick to back the removal of DRM from movies and TV programs. Many industry observers suggested that might have had something to do with his position as the largest shareholder of the Walt Disney Company.

When asked during the EMI announcement about the potential of lifting DRM from video, Jobs responded: “Video is pretty different from music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM free. Never has. So I think they are in a pretty different situation and I wouldn’t hold it to a parallel at all.”

Anti-DRM activists and analysts don’t buy that explanation, said a report by IDG News Service. “Most people believe he’s taking advantage of a technicality when he says that,” James McQuivey, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, told IDG. Software that allows users to beat video copy protection is readily available and widely used, so it’s not a strong argument for why the DVD industry is different from CDs, he noted.

McQuivey told IDG that larger business issues hampered Jobs. “No movie studio would ever support the iTunes store if it was clear that Jobs would be pushing them to remove DRM,” he said. “If Jobs did start offering Disney content on iTunes without copy protection, the other studios might fear that he’d start pushing them to do the same.”

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