Hollywood may demand DRM for big HDs

Written by Geoff Richards

July 21, 2005 | 16:02

Tags: #drm #dvd #hollywood #ipod #james-morris #microdrive #mp3 #perpendicular-recording #psp #studios #video-ipod #vpod

Hard drives using perpendicular recording are scheduled to reach consumers early next year, squeezing as much as 200GB into a 2.5" laptop-sized hard drive. By 2007, we may have up to 20GB on a tiny 1.8" Microdrive thanks to this wonderful new method in storing 1s and 0s.

However, the powerful Hollywood studios may exert some influence on the introduction of these drives, fearing mass piracy using devices like the rumoured Video iPod, according to Tom's Hardware Guide.

"Hollywood can get really concerned. What if you can carry like 20 movies with you all the time, and they can't control the content any more?" Michael Cai, senior analyst with Parks Associates, told THG. Indeed, this is already possible using a new generation of toys, such as the Archos AV400.

Currently, these devices are relatively expensive and are fairly niche in their appeal. However, Seagate spokesperson David Szabados had this to say: "In many cases, it is the disk drive itself that has directly enabled the introduction of many of these new devices we see. As we increase overall capacities using perpendicular recording, we'll see an advancement in those existing products as well as new unique applications as well. For example, it's only a matter of time before devices specifically designed to store and playback high-definition television become mainstream." .

DRM (Digital Rights Management) has something of an image problem. Almost no one except the copyright holder ie the Studios, is in favour of it. Much has been written about it: our own James Morris, former editor of PC Pro magazine, has written at length about it in his Column.

Hollywood needs to learn a lesson from the Record Industry: heavy-handedness will only drive your customers further away. It's the 21st Century dammit - embrace new technology! If I buy a film on DVD, I am paying for the ability to enjoy a film long after it's all-too-short cinema run has ended. Instead of blocking me from playing it anywhere but on my DVD player, by supporting my desire to watch it on my portable player, my PSP, or even my fridge, you ensure I am a happy customer, and happy customers will buy more.

Of course, the purpose of DRM is to prevent rampant piracy - one original DVD feeding tens of thousands of freeloaders. My only hope is that in doing so, they will avoid annoying the crap out of their loyal customers, like the audio CD "protection" that blocks you ripping music you paid for onto your iPod.

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