HomeTech Takeaways: The Frustratingly Predictable Case Against Screening Room

Usual Suspects lining Up with Buckets of Cold Water...

Last week I shared some thoughts on a compelling initiative aimed at disrupting the way Hollywood blockbusters make their way into the home. This week a piece surfaced on Wired throwing a massive bucket of cold water on the whole idea. And if that weren't enough John Sciacca put up a dismissive piece of his own over at  Residential Systems. 

The two articles combine to make it very clear that Screening Room has massive hills to climb in order to become a reality, as if that needed clarification. Wired's article places most of its emphasis on the political challenges associated with disrupting a very entrenched business model. John Sciacca's article more effectively highlights the technical challenges involved with copy protection, citing the ridiculous lengths to which Prima Cinema has been forced to go to appease the rights holders.  

The Takeaway: 

Much of what these articles point out is irrefutable. Screening Room will face huge challenges in the both the technical and political arenas. What gets my goat is the frustrating predictability of the arguments posed by opponents of the idea. Namely: It will lead to more piracy, and it threatens an entrenched model. 

Belaboring the technical difficulties associated with copy protection ignores a key point: piracy is already rampant. Opponents of Screening Room, who argue that this initiative would only exacerbate the problem willfully leave this inconvenient fact out of the conversation.

Opponents also conveniently ignore the fact the anti-piracy measures do little to stop the actual pirates. In reality they only serve to make access to entertainment a whole lot less convenient for people like you and me. To that end I could just as easily make the speculative argument that a product like Screening Room would decrease piracy by finally providing a legitimate option for consumers who might otherwise resort to torrent sites. You know who you are.

The argument being made by theater owners (aka exhibitors) is even more frustrating. Forming a case against innovation while citing nothing more than personal interests is unoriginal and uninspiring. Perhaps they should review Blockbuster's playbook circa 2000. There may be some lessons buried in there.

Will Screening Room succeed? It's anyone's guess. Will something resembling Screening Room be a reality someday? I wouldn't bet against it. In the meantime prepare for a lot of kicking and screaming from parties looking to stave off the inevitable. 

Read the full piece from Wired here...

- Jason Griffing