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Heads Up on Movie Rentals, DRM Restrictions, and Jailbreak


movie rentals drmIf you’ve jailbreaked your way to 1.1.3 it looks like movie rentals won’t play on your iPhone or iPod touch. That’s based on first hand experience and this thread over at Hackint0sh.

Other things you might want to know about rentals:

  1. When you transfer your movie rental from your Mac to your device you need to be able to connect to the iTunes store. This could burn someone planning on watching on their Macbook in the airport and their device on the plane.
  2. You need to be connected to the Internet when you first play the movie, to stamp the 24 hour start time.
  3. Front Row can’t play your rented movie.
  4. The rental can only be stored on one device at a time.

It’s been widely reported that a rental will only play back on one Mac – the one that downloaded it. Check the update on this review at Ars Technica. According to David Chartier, you can transfer a rental movie from one Mac to another, using an iPod or iPhone to make the transfer. Copying the movie file from one Mac directly to another isn’t supported.

The iTunes Store movie rental usage rights specifically say you can only watch the movie on the computer you used to download it. See the last bullet.

It’s hard to believe all these constraints will remain in place for long. For tech-savvy users who like to juggle their media around this is cumbersome at best. It’s easy to foresee someone traveling and ending up unable to watch their movie in-flight because they didn’t meet one of these requirements.

By design, these DRM requirements fail to capitalize on an iTunes account being authorized on up to five computers. Frankly, Murphy is surprised Apple capitulated to these terms. Users with multiple Macs aren’t rewarded with flexibility, they’re shackled with overly restrictive terms.

Here’s a post from Terry White, who is clearly tech-savvy, about how he got burnt when he didn’t start playback on a rental before boarding his flight. When customers who aren’t interested in tinkering with their gadgets encounter obstacles they’ll quickly become frustrated. More from Terry on rentals can be seen here.

In another post Terry mentions how his Mac Mini media hub can’t be used to play back a movie rental downloaded elsewhere, though it seems he could have as the Ars article referenced above reports.

Starting with the 24 hour restriction these DRM constraints don’t make sense. The studios need to learn to trust the 5 machine limit. That’s what deters piracy, not squeezing the customer into a restrictive rental.

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3 comments to “Heads Up on Movie Rentals, DRM Restrictions, and Jailbreak”

  1. Now I’m disappointed. You cannot transfer or begin playing the movie unless you have an internet connection? That is ridiculous! I was planning on my next flight to rent a couple of films to watch at the airport, but not anymore.
    This makes me sad.

  2. Once you start playing you don’t need Internet access to resume playing later. But you need it at the time of transfer.

    Agreed- sad and ridiculous.

  3. You can still get the movie and watch it at the airport. The only problem is that you have to start watching the movie at home then finish the movie watching at the airport.

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