We've seen it before: A serious threat to an industry looms, and entities that are usually rivals join forces to nip that threat in the bud. Today, CNET's News.com reported that major movie studios are teaming up to combat the increasing problem of piracy.
According to the article, the six major movie studios will form a nonprofit consortium dubbed Motion Picture Laboratories, or MovieLabs. It will have a budget of $30 million the first year as it researches ways to prevent movie piracy. Backers include Hollywood bigwigs Disney
Those companies certainly sport deep pockets, but they have good reasons to be concerned about piracy. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, illegal duplication and sale of movies and DVDs costs the film industry more than $3 billion every year. Some believe that the future of the home video market may be endangered by piracy, with fears expressed for the prospects of movie-rental heavyweights like Blockbuster and Netflix
The consortium will look into ways to jam camcorders in theaters, technologies to detect illegal traffic on file-sharing networks, and methods for preventing unauthorized access to personal networks, among other technologies.
While the goals are perfectly understandable, investors should hope that the studios keep a careful eye on controlling piracy while encouraging new means of digital distribution for their content. After all, despite music companies' concerns about piracy, Apple's iTunes Music Store proved that a legal music download service could rake in the profits. Hopefully, Hollywood can navigate the stormy waters of cinematic piracy without sinking any promising new technological possibilities -- or alienating the increasingly tech-savvy consumers who are the frontrunners in setting up the new digital living room.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.