Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Why Copyright Will Delay Online Movie Rentals for Another Twenty Years

This excellent Slate piece, My Mythical Online Rental Service for Movies: Why Hollywood is so slow to catch up on offering all of its movies and shows online, provides a good explanation of why it's going to be AT LEAST 10 YEARS before we have decent online movies on demand--and why bittorrent and movie pirating will only continue in popularity.

The article explains that, due to the incredibly confusing, complex, and slow-to-change contractual system that locks up and segments movie rights, "Reed Hastings, Netflix's founder, told the Hollywood Reporter last month that it'll be 10 years before we see a streaming service that offers any movie at any time."

This is all due to a byzantine web of contracts, build up on the foundation of copyright. It's truly stunning. I would not be surprised if it's 20 years, or more.

Update: See also Mike Masnick's excellent post, Would You Rather Renegotiate Your Contracts... Or See Your Business Collapse?

[Cross-posted on Mises Blog.]


I believe that the introduction of flat panel HD-TVs for the mass consumer market was delayed by at least five years because of industry squabbling over HDMI standards.

We hear over an over again how it is necessary to "protect" the content producers from this an that. But think about it, how many HD-TVs would have been sold without the bickering. The imposition of DRM results in LOST sales ad lost opportunities that hurt business.


I am far from being a flat panel television expert. Here is a brief history of high definition television. Where does HDMI fit in?

I am not an expert either, but we delayed our purchase of an HD-TV until the HDMI connector was provided. Below is an overview. One thing about the overview, the previous standard DVI was implemented before HDMI, but the usual "someone" said it DVI couldn't be used since it was an open standard whereas, HDMI was designed to "fight" piracy, so it had to be used instead.

HDMI - High-Definition Multimedia Interface

High Definition ICT downgrade delayed

Unfortunately, I have to go now. I have not yet run across a story which discusses yet another delay in the release of HDMI. But, these articles a least point out how an established industry standard (DVI) was junked because it was open in favor of a DRM encumbered HDMI cable.

it's going to be AT LEAST 10 YEARS before we have decent online movies on demand

Don't we have that already, with BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay? :-)

I think you mean HDCP, not HDMI. HDCP is a DRM system that works over either DVI or HDMI. HDMI is just a connector that combines audio with DVI video.

Do you know whether HDCP caused a five year delay in the release of HDTV?

Still looking. No smoking gun yet.

Wikipedia page on HDCP

Wikipedia page on HDMI

Jesse is correct that HDCP provides the DRM system, but when conducting searches it seems the two are so intertwined that they are considered "one" technology, even though they aren't.

Actually, I don't believe HDCP delayed the introduction of HDTVs. Why not? Because plenty of HDTVs were released without HDCP before the standard was finalized!

That was the problem: if you were one of the early HDTV adopters, not only did you pay an exorbitant price, but you ended up with a TV set that was (needlessly) incompatible with hardware that came later. You might discover that your $10,000 TV couldn't display HD movies at full resolution because the players intentionally limited the quality of analog component outputs or non-encrypted digital outputs.

Some of this was mitigated by the industry promising not to do anything too draconian with HDCP until 2010. Still, if you laid down enough money for your TV to buy a quality used car, you probably weren't planning to throw that TV away just a few years later.

I guess my perceptions were simply near sighted.

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