Movielink, the new online motion picture delivery service, has gotten its share of bad raps during the past week. Reviewers say the movie studios' alternative to video piracy is at best very slow to download - even with a broadband connection. It self-destructs viewing capability after 24-hours of starting a film and is limited to low resolution viewing only on the PC where it's downloaded.
That is, if the customer uses Microsoft Windows.
Aficionados of Apple's popular Macintosh platform (as well as all other competitors to Microsoft) are told to forget about it. If, of course, the non-Windows browser even works at all (which, we found, it often doesn't.)
After one disgruntled Macintosh user sent a message to firstname.lastname@example.org,Movielink responded that it hasn't identified a digital rights management (DRM) technology that works for the Macintosh in the same manner as with today's highly restrictive Windows environment.
"At this time, Movielink has not found a suitable security technology - a digital rights management (DRM) system - that meets its requirements and is compatible with the Mac environment," the message said.
Movielink uses both Microsoft's Windows Media Player and RealNetworks Real Player to display its films. Each uses it own proprietary DRM system. Movielink did not choose Apple Computer's Quicktime system, which is compatible with the MPEG-4 standard.
In recent weeks Microsoft has advocated an increasingly closed, hardware-based means to secure content used on Windows PCs. As a result, many new restrictions are being placed on Windows users who wish to handle copyrighted entertainment. Apple, on the other hand, has promoted its Macintosh computer as a "digital hub" to ease the transfer and manipulation of such media. Apple's far looser approach has angered Hollywood's content owners, but been embraced by computer users who access multimedia content.
Might Movielink's exclusionary technology policy be extended to television, allowing on-demand movies and other premium content to be shown only on video devices whose manufacturers restrict and limit their use by consumers? Yes, if Movielink is allowed to maintain its restrictive stance toward customer-owned hardware.
Users who run Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP can access Movielink at www.movielink.com.