MovieLink offers DVD downloads

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MovieLink offers DVD downloads

Movie download service Movielink announced that it has licensed technology from Sonic Solutions to allow consumers to download a movie and burn it onto a DVD for use in standard DVD players. This is a huge move since before MovieLink required that you play its downloaded movies only on PCs since they used DRM (digital rights management) to ensure that only the PC you downloaded the movie could play it - plus up to 2 other PCs.

If you recall, back in April, I wrote about MovieLink's movie download service and said this:
The films available on Movielink can be stored indefinitely on a computer hard drive or transferred to as many as two other computers. A copy can be burned to a DVD as a backup, however these DVD discs can only be played on up three PCs authorized by Movielink - they cannot be viewed on a standard DVD player because of special security encryption. Studios are being extra cautious about selling films online in part because DVD sales produce more profit than theater box office receipts. Still, this could be a deal breaker for many users that don't have a PC hooked up to their large-screen TVs. Who wants to watch a DVD on a teensy 17" or even 21" PC monitor?

Further, I stated back in April - "If Hollywood makes it easy for users to download and play movies on their television, they could make a killing. Just look at what Apple iTunes did after everybody said that no one would pay for music in the "Napster age". Apple proved them wrong. Hollywood could do the same if they make the user experience as easy and simple as Apple did." Ironically, the example I gave - Apple iTunes - is now rumored will offer movie rental downloads. (with DRM embedded, but of course! )

Well, thank goodness Hollywood has finally gotten its act together and plans to allow users to burn to a standard DVD playable on any DVD player using MovieLink.  I should point out that the download-to-burn service won't be available until the company obtains a license for DVD encrypting technology later this year. "We are hopeful this gets into the market in a big way in the next six months or so," Jim Ramo, MovieLink chief executive said.

According to Reuters, only a portion of Movielink's 1,500-title library will be available for download-to-burn until Movielink clears those rights with its studio investors, Ramo said.

However, as I previously stated, this is a momentous change for Hollywood since until now, the major movie studios have been very hesitant to allower consumers to download DVDs over the Internet since it opens the door to increased piracy. In addition, downloaded content is usually much less expensive than the retail DVD copy, so the enticement for fraud and financial loss is potentially greater. Simply pay $3 to download the movie, burn to a DVD, then copy the DVD using a ripper such as DVDFab Decryptor. It copies the entire DVD movie to the hard disk and removes all the protections (CSS, RC, RCE, APS, UOPs and Sony ARccOS) while copying. AnyDVD is another popular ripper. Compare $3 vs. $25 for a retail DVD and you can understand the movie studios concern. Retail DVDs still have a huge markup even with the distribution, packaging, and retail costs. Maybe if they used less of that stupid security tape that is damn near impossible to remove from the DVD box, they'd increase their profit margin even more.

With this announcement. Movielink is the first major download service to offer download-to-burn DVD for use in both personal computers and standard DVD players connected to television sets.

I should point out  that Amazon Unbox now offers movie downloads for $1.99, which is similar to Apple iTunes.

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