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NBCU Talks Video Piracy At CES, But Apple's Still Not Listening

Last October, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) and companies like News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS), CBS (NYSE: CBS), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and others signed on to develop guidelines designed to prevent unauthorized online content. They drafted 15 points that called for a range of monitoring procedures to guard against copyright infringement.

At CES this week, NBCU gathered some of its members to highlight its efforts, which include pressing the federal government to take up the issue. In particular, some members are suggesting that the entertainment industry’s reliance on Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices has not made a dent in the growth of copyright violations, THR reports. Secondly, the group, which also includes smaller companies like Veoh and Dailymotion, have also identified a need to iron out existing differences. The companies have not outlined what those differences are, though methods and degrees for copyright filtering is something that the industry at large has had a tough time dealing with. For example, the FCC is investigating Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) for trying to disrupt the use of P2P networks by users.

FT: Apart from trying to move the coalition’s anti-piracy agenda along, NBCU has been trying to reach out to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which has so far shown little interest in participating in the group. Aside from a disagreement about pricing, NBCU cited lack of cooperation on combating piracy when it decided not to renew its contract with Apple on iTunes downloads of its TV programming. As a sign that relations between NBCU and Apple haven’t warmed, the network hoped Apple would implement anti-piracy technology that could block copyright-protected content being used on the iPod. Though no one’s talking officially, Apple refused to entertain NBCU’s request.

2 Responses to “NBCU Talks Video Piracy At CES, But Apple's Still Not Listening”

  1. Bob Eran

    Old data. Fox and Apple just teamed-up for one of the first anti-piracy video models, something that should have been a no-brainer. Stealing video is easy in todays digital environment, just as stealing music was easy eight years ago during the height of Napster. What the industry needs to do is look at what was learned from the usage model behind the music piracy: the media was over priced/under valued ($20 a disk for new releases at most retail outlets at the time, and typically the audience only wanted one song off the album), and digital distribution was more convenient for the consumer, even when broadband was a luxury service. When introduced to a paid model the consumer felt was fair, $0.99 a song struck a cord, and the audience was rewarded with a high quality experience.

    Apple hasn't been able to reproduce this with video, thanks to the studios: where the music industry was willing to try, with reservation, a new business model, the movie studios have been lax to experiment with a model that could alienate their brick-and-mortar resellers. Walmart threatened to pull DVDs for anyone selling low-quality, no bonus feature iTunes titles at the same cost of the physical disk. It took the House of Mouse to strong arm them into submission by threatening to withhold Pirates. Even with tepid reception from the studios, movies do not make Apple a ton of money–most uneducated consumers know they're not getting their money's worth at iTunes.

    Fox and Apple are now offering iTunes-friendly digital copies on select DVD titles. This is The Great Compromise that the industry has needed for a long time; Hollywood can't make the DVD ripping software go away, and playing cat-and-mouse with the hackers on future formats is a waste of their money. But, if the average consumer, who knows the law and probably wants to follow it as long as it's not interfering with his perceived "fair use" rights, can just drag-and-drop the movie from DVD to iPod, there will probably be less copy-protection-free copies on the net. And maybe, Hollywood will start to see some revenue that they could pretty much just write-off before.