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Blu-ray to get managed copy. At last

Years after it first launched, Blu-ray is now set to get managed copy, to allow users to copy their movies to another device or keep a backup. But you'll need all-new hardware to do it

Blu-ray: we're sort of stuck with it now, aren't we? We love our movies with glorious 1080p and beautiful lossless surround sound, but we're not so keen on its restrictive DRM, which prevents us from using our films the way copyright law suggests we should be able to. We're talking here about making a copy for personal use, so we can stream it to a media player or put a copy on an iPod or other PMP. But rejoice -- in a restrained, Sunday kind of way -- because managed copy is on the way to Blu-ray, according to Engadget and Video Business.

Managed copy allows users to 'rip' video from a Blu-ray disc, but in a controlled manner, with DRM remaining in place to prevent copies ending up on the Internet. The copy-protection system on Blu-ray, known as AACS, has always theoretically supported managed copy, but from 4 December it will become mandatory for discs to allow consumers to make at least one copy. Try not to get too excited though, because in order to make a copy using this system, you'll need a piece of hardware that supports it, and have a guess how many currently do. That's right: none.

And, as you might imagine, there aren't a whole lot of hardware companies queueing up to make players that allow managed copy right now, because this isn't, and never will be, something most consumers are especially bothered about. Hopefully PC drive makers will be the first to jump on the system, because it makes most sense to allow copies to PCs, as they have all the necessary hardware needed to make the system work. Namely Internet access and a hard drive to store the video.

We're especially interested to see if this move to support managed copy spurs Apple into adding Blu-ray support to its computers. After all, iTunes, the iPod touch and Apple TV are all strong candidates to take advantage of a system like this. Imagine if you could rip a Blu-ray on your Mac and stream it to other Apple devices in your home. That would, as we say in the trade, r0x0r.

As this news comes to us from the US, it's unclear if the same rules will apply across the rest of the world. Theoretically, the Blu-ray region code could prevent certain titles from non-US regions from allowing managed copy, but we think that's quite unlikely.