Legal Copying of HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs? Huh?

Movie studios and film companies are reportedly supporting a licensing agreement that's in the final stages of completion, and it might just let you legally copy HD DVDs and Blu-ray discs. This could be a crack in the armor, a compromise for the mess that is digital rights management (DRM). What, did hell freeze over?

Michael Ayers, speaking for the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) licensing group, said Hollywood film studios and content owners may allow buyers of HD DVD and Blu-ray discs to make one backup copy of each disc, and one digital copy to reside on a home media server. Studios may charge more for these Managed Copy privileges, and will be able to dictate just how many copies you make of your movies you bought.

This is a step in the right direction. After all, DRM can go beyond an all-or-nothing equation. If the studios would simply let people make enough copies so they can use their paid-for media on whatever hardware they own, the problem of oppressive DRM restrictions might be closer to a solution. At least, this would be a better deal for the honest people.

One studio said it's hoping this Managed Copy system will be in place for the 2007 holiday season. Meanwhile, the HD DVD Promotional Group added that Managed Copy will be backward compatible on HD DVDs, while it won't be on Blu-ray discs. No matter what, there will still be DRM slathered all over both formats.

How many times do these copy protection schemes need to be cracked, hacked and sacked before the movie studios realize it's not going to work? The studios and the AACS licensing group might have finally seen the futility of trying to completely lock up their content. Let the people fairly use their media, and maybe it won't be so tempting to steal it.

Copying HD DVD and Blu-ray discs may become legal [Macworld, and Ars Technica]