Cory Doctorow in Popular Science

Go Ask Hollywood: Why can’t you back up your DVDs? Because entertainment execs don’t want you to

The holiday shopping guides were all atwitter over the new DVD formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD–competing systems for recording and playing back high-definition movies. Both feature hugely increased pixel counts, more bit-depth and a surfeit of storage. But here’s an important question that goes unasked in all the hype: What features won’t your next-generation DVD device have?

It won’t have a button for making a backup copy of the DVD you just bought, or for sending the movie to any portable video player. And if you put one of these long-awaited new discs in your PC, you won’t have the option to rip it to your hard drive the way you do when you insert a CD.

[…] We can’t rely on the vendors to act in our interest these days, dragging the entertainment execs kicking and screaming to the money tree. The irony is that the tech companies say that this is all done in your interest, that by pleasing the studios, they can give you a device for which Hollywood might make a few movies available. But it will be on their terms, not yours. With friends like that, who needs the Boston Strangler?