Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mickey Mouse hates FireWire

Technical issues are one thing. Legal issues are another. Fighting anti-1394 FUD was a walk in the park compared to negotiating with Hollywood attorneys and leaving with anything more than your life…shirt off your back and dignity were the first things to go. 1394 was ready to go into multiple audio/video products as early as 1996 but Hollywood was digging their heels in. Convergence between consumer audio/video and computers would never happen as long as they could prevent it. Hollywood feared digital technology. To them, digital video was an invitation to download all their movies to the Internet and then everyone would see movies for free and they would never sell another DVD.

The long road to providing acceptable digital rights management started in 1995 and was not completed until 2007. We got close a number of times, but then another objection was raised and another round of engineering was initiated to meet the new concern.

You have to keep in mind that the movie industry has fought every new innovation starting with the television. When the VCR was in the works, they tried to get a $25 - $35 tax applied to every videotape to protect themselves from bankruptcy. Of course, today, half their income is from video sales and rentals. The introduction of the DVD was delayed by at least a year due to Hollywood obstructionist tactics. With the transition to digital television, fear was running rampant. Hollywood is remarkably unimaginative when it comes to seeing how a new technology can be used to their advantage. The cry today from the studios is “How can we compete with free?” To which Gary Shaprio, President of the Consumer Electronics Association replied, “The bottled water industry competes very well with free.”

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