Making HD-DVD and Blu-ray Copies Legal

In an article on InfoWorld today, Jeremy Kirk is reporting that we may finally get to make personal copies of our HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies without fear of going to jail. According to the article, the proposed licensing agreement is under negotiation by AACS Licensing Administrator members (including Sony, IBM, The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., and Microsoft) and the movie industry companies who use AACS copy protection to safeguard their content.
HD-DVD has a Managed Copy provision built into the specification, which allows for movie rights holders to enable consumers to make copies within a set of parameters. I’m less familiar with the inner workings of Blu-ray, but it seems to have a similar feature. Essentially the Managed Copy system is designed so that the copy remains in a rights managed state, but you have greater flexibility about what you can do with the copy. While this doesn’t go far enough for some people, I certainly wouldn’t care about making copies of my movies, if I knew that I could easily put a movie on my iPod or play it back from my home theater PC without having to buy the same movie three times.
While this doesn’t solve the problem of making copies of titles currently available only on DVD, having a forward looking solution is certainly a step in the right direction. The next step toward placating those of us who like to have easy ways to consume our favorite entertainment when and where we want is to make it legal for cable and satellite companies to offer network DVR as a valid product offering. This would essentially mean that you could watch any show recently available in your cable lineup at any time, even if you forgot to set up your Tivo. BitTorrent and other P2P services currently fill this need, but at least in the United States we’re considered criminals if we opt to locate shows out on the public Internet.