I’ve enjoyed watching the DECE (“Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem”) discussion unfold – it makes for good entertainment. A decent amount of the commentary has been the typical knee-jerk “DRM sucks” response you’d expect. And while it may be partially true that this industry alliance (Sony, Best Buy, NBC, Comcast, etc) was formed to fend off Apple, DECE has the potential of ultimately benefit all consumers. Really, can it really get any worse?
I watched the entire first season of Burn Notice via Internet streaming and downloads: Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon Unbox on TiVo. Each video locked in its respective silo. When I watched an episode on my laptop, Melissa couldn’t catch up by watching it on TiVo, Xbox, or even her own PC (with separate iTunes account). And there’s no way for me to watch the entire season again via a single screen. Or let’s say I purchase a movie on the living room PS3 or Vudu, and decide to watch it on the bedroomTiVo. Right now, I’m out of luck.
So let’s think about a commercially successful form of DRM… Ignoring for the moment it was cracked years ago, the DVD has enjoyed great success. Buy pretty much any DVD from any studio and it plays in nearly any brand of DVD player. So why not retrofit that “buy once, play anywhere” model for the cloud?
I support the studios protecting their properties, as long as they respect their customers with reasonable usage rights. Of course, the devil will be in the details. We’d most likely need network-connected devices to validate against a licensing server and capable of handling whatever codec(s) they agree upon – so we’re talking either new gear or gear that can be updated to support this model. If and when this ultimately rolls out. But I am hopeful these players do the right thing, and do it efficiently – despite imminent broadband caps, the clock is ticking. And I’m betting they’d rather improve access than see their content given away via P2P networks.