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Wednesday, 16 January 2008 02:51

The DVDs you don't need to rip (but probably will)

Twentieth Century Fox and Apple have teamed to deliver a system that makes it easy to add purchased DVDs to an iTunes library.

The discs contain an extra copy of the movie formatted for use in iTunes and related devices, and a serial number is on the case. The serial number allows the file to be played, but locks it to that iTunes library. It can then be used on that computer or an associated video-capable iPod, an iPhone, or an Apple TV.

"One of the most requested features DVD buyers have been asking for is the ability to get the movies they bought into their iTunes library," said Jim Gianopulos, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment. "We're thrilled to offer such an incredibly simple way for our customers to get even more out of their DVD purchase, and we look forward to releasing many more DVDs this year with iTunes Digital Copy."

The first title with iTunes compatibility is Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest. Some of the companies' thunder was stolen when copies of the DVD were released to customers ahead of time last week, resulting in widespread coverage on Mac rumour sites.

Fox has previously provided a Windows Media version of Digital Copy allowing playback on a Windows PC and one portable device.

The trouble with this approach is that it means messing around with DRM. Many Mac and Windows users are already happy using free software such as Handbrake to transcode DVDs into formats that are usable on iPods and other portable players, or that take up less space on a computer and reduce battery consumption compared with playback from DVD (important on those long flights in economy). The resulting files are not encumbered with DRM, which is an advantage even if the copy is made for strictly personal use.

While Fox's Digital Copies assure people that they are fully within their rights to watch the movie on a personal player, I doubt that will bother most people too much about that.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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