When you buy a CD you can generally rip it to your hard drive with minimal effort. Every now and then Sony tries to thwart you by either claiming you're a thief or rootkitting your PC. Even with copy-protected CDs it's possible to rip the music without much additional drama. The same has never been true of DVD. Although it's reasonably trivial to copy a DVD, it's not really possible to do it legally -- you need to break the CSS, and that's where the trouble starts.
So the announcement atthat Fox and Apple are going to work together to provide an iTunes-compliant copy of the movie on the disc, alongside the regular movie, was an interesting one. And certainly an interesting development in the world of electronic distribution.
Here's how it works. You buy a DVD from Fox, the first of which is the Family Guy Star Wars parody, and on the disc is an iTunes-compatible file. To use this file, you simply stick the disc in your computer, enter a unique code into iTunes, and it will copy the file into your library. You can only do this into one library, so you can't lend the disc to anyone else to use the electronic copy. You can then copy the file to iPhone, or just watch it on your PC., an or
The Apple announcement doesn't mention what sort of quality you'll be getting, but we'd hope that the Blu-ray discs come with an HD version to work with the revised Apple TV system. If that does happen, we think it's a pretty good idea -- of course, not many people have Blu-ray PC drives and with no announcement from Saint Steve about when Blu-ray is coming to Mac, we can't be sure when they will hit the mainstream.
We're a little surprised Jobs didn't sign Disney up to this first, but they have always been ultra-paranoid about electronic distribution. Even though Steve is the big man over there now, change takes time.
There's no word on UK availability of these files, but we'd wager they won't happen here for a while and it's almost certain US discs won't work outside the US. -Ian Morris