Hollywood's looking for a way to make digital movie files more portable. It's a big problem for them, enough that they want to create a new working group to figure it out.
Consumers, the industry believes, could balk at buying digital movies and TV shows until they can bring their collections with them wherever they go — by and large the same freedom people have with DVDs.
In the last year and a half, a broad alliance of high-tech companies and Hollywood studios has been trying to address this problem through an organization called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, or DECE. Five of the six major Hollywood studios (Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Sony, Paramount and Fox, but not Walt Disney) are involved, with Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Intel and Best Buy.
What they came up with focuses on a new DRM file format as well a database to track who/what has the rights to view the file.
Under the proposed system, proof of digital purchases would be stored online in a so-called rights locker, and consumers would be permitted to play the movies they bought or rented on any DECE-compatible device.
I feel that this is a concept destined for failure. We already have file formats that are nearly universal, they would be the ones that have no DRM.
At first glance the "digital rights locker" sounds like it might be a good idea, as it will supposedly allow you to have access to all of the media that you can watch, no matter where you are. But to me, this sounds like having to call up your parents every time you want to watch a movie.
What it boils down to is what happens when things go wrong? What if they lose your purchase history? Or the whole system goes down? The answer: no movies for you. And who knows if it will ever recover correctly.
Another problem is getting every company on the same page. This will likely turn into a BluRay / HD-DVD like competition. What happens if you buy into the equivalent of HD-DVD and it shuts down in a few years? I hope you like throwing money away, because I'm sure none of the systems will guarantee access to the media for any period of time.
I think Hollywood needs to take a lesson from digital music downloads. Two of the big sources (Amazon, iTunes) now have DRM free files, which I think did a lot to make their services more acceptable (or at least from my point of view).
In the end, DRM only hinders legitimate customers. Pirates will always find a way to share copyrighted content. I believe it's impossible to provide a media file that is protected in such a way that it can't be copied. It's simply the nature of the mechanism, if you can view it legitimately, then it stands that someone can find an illegitimate way to access the content.