Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dell Makes DVD Burning Drive for Digitally-Downloaded Content

Dell has plans to make what could be stringent copyright lobbyists' worst nightmare: a PC drive that would let customers take movies downloaded from CinemaNow and burn them to DVDs that can be played in most standard DVD players. While it sounds like a logical function (and let's face it: it is), those who feel strict copyright laws should be enforced will frown upon this device, claiming that it, along with other like devices, "infringes on copyrights".

The drives, which are based on Sonic Solutions' Qflix technology, work in tandem with the Roxio Venue application and specific Qflix CinemaNow titles (there are reportedly about 100 set to be available thus far), to create Qflix DVDs. The drive is already available in the U.S. as an option for most Inspiron, Studio, and XPS notebook PCs, and sells for US$120.

While some movie downloads from the CinemaNow Website are available in Canada, I doubt that this product and service will be. It's just another to add to the list that potential Canadian copyright law changes could deem illegal. This is despite the fact that it makes perfect sense to 1) enjoy content that you've legally purchased anywhere you want; and 2) be able to make back-ups of downloaded movies in case your PC crashes. Not to mention that DVDs created from this program are indeed copy-protected, just like regular store-bought DVDs.

"People are accessing and managing more and more digital content with their PCs," explains Michelle Pearcy, Director of Global Software Marketing at Dell, "but often they're limited by where and when they can view their content. With Qflix, movie fans can now burn their movies and TV shows to DVDs..."

Sonic Solutions' Executive Vice President of Strategy Mark Ely makes a bold statement in claiming that the Qflix technology is "bringing the $35 billion DVD sell-through market into the age of electronic distribution."

While I do see the other side of the coin where content can be mass-produced and sold in an illegal fashion (a la bootlegged content), stopping the development and integration of technology really isn't the answer. With that said, hopefully this product and the Qflix technology will cross over to the Canadian market in the near future.

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