CinemaNow DVD burning is flawed

Written by Brett Thomas

August 7, 2006 | 16:49

Tags: #cinemanow #copy-protection #drm #dvd #mpaa

CinemaNow has come quite a bit forward from only allowing Vivid's movie titles to be burned up to DVD. The service now offers over 100 movies for your directly downloaded viewing pleasure, with a one-click solution to burn to DVD. It was such a great idea and such an industry step forward that it's a shame to report on how it got incredibly screwed up thanks to DRM.

Sadly, that's exactly what happened, though. The issue stems from CinemaNow's poorly designed method of DRM, which introduces errors into the recording intentionally. The goal is to push the disc to the limits of a player's error recognition and correction (ERC), which makes the disc almost impossible to copy. Of course, as CinemaNow is learning, the threshold of DVD ERC is a moving target that depends on everything from the quality of the player itself to the quality of the recording media. Thus, many customers are in an uproar to find out that their burned, legal DVDs will not play on many standalone players, which simply do not have ERC levels high enough to cope.

Worse still, for those that DO have the ability to play the DVD, the errors introduced make the disc go bad with the slightest amount of dust, lint, oil or scratches (which is what the whole ERC is for in the first place). Thus, even if you get a working copy, there is little hope for it to remain that way for long. Couple this with the fact that you can only burn a title once without hacking the program, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Clearly the entire concept of this DRM needs rethought, but until that point it is best to stick to the old adage of caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware, indeed.

Got a thought on the latest DRM-related issues? Have you tried CinemaNow yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in our forums.
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