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Blog: Digital Copy Gets Sloppy
      #32584 - 02/09/09 05:27 PM

You probably already know what a Digital Copy is. Hollywood doesn't want people to rip DVDs of commercial movies (and for Blu-Rays, you pretty much can't rip them yourself), but people don't think it's fair to pay for a movie twice just to get a disc version and a digital version for their portable media players. So Digital Copies are a compromise.

In general, DVDs and Blu-Rays with a "Digital Copy" logo on their packaging include a special extra disc along with a unique access code, which you can use to either download the movie in iTunes (which you can sync with an iPod/iPhone), or download the movie into Windows Media Player (which you can sync with some lousy device I probably don't care about ). Seems like a pretty clever way to resolve the digital dilemma raised above... but what if a Digital Copy isn't really a Digital Copy?

I recently bought Hancock on Blu-Ray, and at the time of purchase, I was pleased to see the "Digital Copy" logo on the package. However, when I inserted the Digital Copy disc into my Mac, iTunes didn't recognize it the way it normally does. After a brief attempt to troubleshoot, I read more carefully and discovered that this wasn't the type of "Digital Copy" I was used to. In fact, it was a proprietary new type of Digital Copy that only works with Windows computers, and its support for mobile devices is pretty much limited to the PSP. No support for Macs, iPods, or iPhones. Ouch.

Hancock is available on iTunes, so it seems like it would've been easy to include a standard Digital Copy that would work with a wider variety of devices - but they didn't. The bottom line is that the term "Digital Copy" doesn't have any official definition, so if you buy a product that says it includes a Digital Copy, you may get what you were expecting - or you may not.

Yes, you could attempt to unravel the little sticker before purchase to read all the details about system requirements, but I have to say, I think some store clerks would not be pleased if they saw you doing that. Or you could just be extra-suspicious of Sony products; because Hancock and the PSP are both made by Sony, it appears that in this case, this new "Digital Copy" continues Sony's unfortunate tradition of providing proprietary, nonstandard products.

But that's just silly. It shouldn't be this difficult to know what you're getting when you buy a movie. Perhaps the standard iTunes+WMP style of Digital Copy should come up with some sort of trademark or brand name, with a logo they could put on packaging, and then products that didn't meet this specific standard wouldn't get the logo. Or at least Sony should provide a better warning on products that don't work the standard way. However, if things remain the way they are currently, this will not only frustrate consumers, but it will also encourage ripping rather than discouraging it, because it leaves some customers feeling like they paid for a Digital Copy that they didn't actually receive.


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