The New iPod and Consumer Expectations

What a cool new device Apple has made us all lust over! Again! Not only is it thinner than the previous generation of iPods, it sports a wider color screen capable of playing back video. And you can download select TV shows from the iTunes Music Store. Now on the way to work, I can watch Lost and find all the clues that I’ve missed the night before.

Of course, the video playback is not limited to the TV shows, there are pleanty of video podcasts (FYI: that’s an iTunes link) for you to select from—I usually watch Rocketboom while eating lunch at my desk. And then there’s all the videos I already own.

I have a few movies on VHS that I could do a an “A-to-D” conversion on—digitally record to my computer using an EyeTV or just my regular firewire camcorder as a pass-thru. It’d take some time, but it could be done.

And of course, my DVD collection. Since those are just discs with digital video files on them. It should be easy enough to down-convert them on my computer to the proper resolution for the iPod. And it is pretty easy. Sheesh, it only took two days for a tutorial to be put on a very popular blog.

But, unlike all the video content (both analog and digital) listed before, it’s illegal to digitally copy this DVD video content to your new iPod. We all know why. Sure, you could copy the video from the analog out, then copy it back digitally, then down-rez it. A “D-to-A-to-D” conversion, if you will.

Does anyone else think this is absurd? You own the content. You own the device. And you’re not doing anything illegal with the content under traditional copyright law.

Thankfully, some other folks do to. One in particular is U.S. Representative Rick Boucher, of Virginia. This is not hot news, but he’s got a bill in Congress that essentially says if you’re not doing it for otherwise infringing purposes, it’s not illegal to conduct fair use.

If it were to pass, you wouldn’t be breaking the law while watching your DVDs on your iPod, on the way to work. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

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