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Rooted Android devices barred from watching Android Market movies

Google has blocked rooted Android devices from paying to download movies legally from its Market, citing copyright protection agreements.

Google has blocked access to the Android Market's movie download rental service for any rooted Android device, Wired reports.

Users who have unlocked the standard Android operating systems to give them full administrative privileges will now be greeted with a terse error message if they try to download a movie from the store.

Google offers a short and far from sweet explanation to this complaint: "I see 'Failed to fetch license for [movie title] (error 49)' when I try to download a movie."

Its response: "You'll receive this 'Error 49' message if you attempt to play a movie on a rooted device. Rooted devices are currently unsupported due to requirements related to copyright protection."

It's those dinosaurs in the movie studios, stomping and bellowing again. Still living in the pre-Betamax days when they had almost complete control over when, where and how punters watched films, they believe their digital rights management (DRM) systems are vital to protecting their content.

Movie studios are worried that users of rooted Android devices will be creating bootleg DVDs to sell in the local pub. Ironically, it's those who are technically savvy enough to root their devices who would be most likely to find a way to circumvent this protection. Most anti-DRM activists simply want to enjoy the content they've purchased on any device, at any time, in any way, without restriction. The films in the Android Market aren't unique, and those who really want to copy them will find higher quality, unprotected copies elsewhere -- without paying for them in the first place.

Most Android users won't notice anything as they're behaving themselves and using the standard OS. UK users will notice even less, as we don't have access to the movie service at all. Still, it's the principle, and both sides believe they're right. It's unlikely the studios are going to back down any time soon.