The whole Napster story is set to repeat itself in the digital video world. With the proliferation of broadband and peer to peer network technology like eMule and Bittorrent, the cat is out of the bag. With digital video services now providing simple, consumer level products that allow video content to be captured instantly, it’s not difficult to imagine the revolution that is now taking shape. What is called TV Piracy today is an opportunity for someone to make a killing tomorrow.
Apple Computer was the big winner in the original Napster story, with the development of the iPod and iTunes Music Store. Despite the fact that there are significant questions about the way Apple has introduced its Digital Rights Management system, there’s no doubting the successful introduction of ITMS has changed the music industry forever. A profitable music on demand industry was born.
There seems no doubt that the video on demand industry will follow, but what remains to be seen is what shape a really tenable digital video download service will take. Personally, I’d have no problem at all with paying a reasonable fee for the convenience of downloading video on demand. Providing the DRM is not too restrictive, of course. Following the music example, I much prefer the DRM-free subscription service offered by eMusic.com, but Apple certainly has the better range of choice from the main labels on the ITMS. My wish is that someone would come up with a really forward-thinking download service that has minimal DRM (maybe hooked up to a set top box solution like TIVO) that makes it more worthwhile to use the legitimate service than resort to peer to peer networks.