How many ways are there to protect us from our music and our movies? The ones we buy and listen to and watch.
There’s Apple’s FairPlay, Microsoft’s PlaysForSure, and a dozen others, including copy-protected movie DVDs.
Here’s another one. It’s called Drive In. Take a look at what it says it does. Then compare the value of the solution to your own method.
First, how is that we’re being protected from the music and movies we buy? We buy a CD, import the music to iTunes, play on Mac or Windows or iPod. All is good.
Second, TV commercials say we can “own” the latest DVD release, but the term “own” isn’t really what we think it is. We cannot easily make copies for personal use (yes, there’s wiggle room in that, plus it’s possible, but…).
Download music from nearly any popular online music service such as iTunes Store, and the recording and movie industry protects us from our music and movies by restricting where they can be played.
Worse, some in the recording industry want to charge a tax on the music players for the privilege of playing their music on our players (even if I already “own” the music they sold to me).
Along comes Flip4Mac to help us view and listen to what we already “own” in yet another innovative way. The Drive In utility lets Mac users store a personal DVD on your Mac. What does that mean?
Drive In creates an image of your movie DVD on your Mac. You get the same quality, navigation buttons, and everything else on the original DVD. It can even be played on your Mac using the DVD Player in Mac OS X, or Front Row in new Intel Macs.
Whatever copy protection is in the original DVD is retained by Drive In in the image.
The image will play on any Mac you own (if it’s fast enough, and on the supported list), but you can’t share your images with others.
What’s the advantage of that? Why not just carry your movie DVDs with you wherever you go? You’re way ahead of me.
The idea here appears to be a utility that stores movies on our Macs, especially Mac notebooks, so we don’t have to carry the valuable DVDs when we travel.
Copy protection isn’t broken. It’s actually preserved in the image of the movie DVD on your Mac. I can’t wait to see what happens with the MPAA figures out what’s going on with this utility.
If you haven’t used Mac OS X’s Disk Utility, a “disk image” created by Drive In is an exact duplication of the information on your DVD. Your Mac never knows the difference and plays the image exactly as if it were the DVD used to create the duplicate.
Are your eyes open as wide as mine? Somehow, this all sounds so cool, and so troublesome at the same time. Cool because now there’s a way to “duplicate” my movie DVDs. Legally? Ah, that’s another question that moves quickly into troublesome territory.
There’s also the projected $50 cost. You can’t truly share the disk image with someone else, but you can move it from one Mac to another. Did I mention size?
A single movie disk image on your Mac may be 6-gigabytes in size, so it’s unlikely that you’ll carry a whole movie DVD library around on your Mac (streaming video via iTV is starting to sound pretty handy, huh?).
Telestream, the Flip4Mac folks, are also known as the keepers of Window Media Player technology for the Mac, so they know a thing or two about doing video and audio on Mac OS X.
Still, the FAQs on the Drive In web pages don’t truly satisfy my curiosity about the legality of copying personal movie DVDs that are copy protected.
If the recording industry can sue thousands of teenagers and their parents for downloading music online, what’s to prevent the motion picture industry from taking a bite out of their idea of criminals and suing you or me or Telestream for simply thinking about it.
The Drive In beta is just that. It’s beta, so your mileage may vary. I tried to copy two DVDs to a disk image. One worked OK, one did not, so that’s a 50-50 rating.
You’ll need a powerful Mac with OS X Tiger, and an internet connection to activate the beta. The process to create a copy of your DVD is Mac simple but not exactly fast. The list of Known Issues is extensive, but after all, this is beta software. Some DVDs work, some don’t, as DVD copy protection schemes vary.
Now, back to the idea of creating copies of movie DVDs to run on your Mac and play on Front Row. I’m all in favor of that. Let’s see how long this solution lasts, then compare it to what Apple plans for 2007.