My daughter just gave me a DVD with iTunes videos of the entire first season of Lost. How can I watch these programs on my TV? Is there some way I can burn the episodes to DVD?
Waiting To Burn
[ad#AdSense1] There’s an easy answer, but it’s probably not what you’re looking for. The easiest way to watch the first season of Lost on your TV is to buy the Season 1 DVD set from Amazon.
The iTunes files your daughter gave you are intentionally handicapped by a Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme that limits what consumers can do with the files. Unlike iTunes music, iTunes videos can’t be burned to disk.
Why would Apple do this?
Actually, Apple probably doesn’t want to do this. The DRM limitations on iTunes videos are more of a compromise designed to appease copyright holders while making programming available in a downloadable format. Given the many barriers to getting these programs online it’s amazing that the networks are offering any downloadable programming at all.
There may be some “unofficial” tools that would assist you in conversion and burning of these episodes to a more standard DVD format. If such tools actually exist they are almost certainly in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
What, you don’t know about the DMCA? You will soon enough. It is slowly having a major impact on how consumers interact with media (and not in a good way). Among other things the DMCA criminalizes all manner of activities that used to be taken for granted (Fair Use, making backup copies, format shifting, modifying hardware devices).
The mere fact that your daughter gave you the DVD full of Lost episodes might actually be interpreted as a copyright violation. While she would certainly have the right to lend you her DVD collection, the same right does not necessarily extend to the downloadable episodes. In the analogue world the right to lend your physical media to another person is the result of the Right of First Sale. In the digital world, the Right of First Sale no longer exists. In other words, once you’ve purchased a digital product you have almost no rights.
So let’s recap your options along with the pros and cons of each:
Lost Season 1 DVD set:
- $59.99 from Amazon (with free shipping and no sales tax).
- Plays on any DVD player.
- Can be loaned to friends and family without fear of criminal prosecution.
Lost Season 1 on iTunes:
- $34.99 downloaded from iTunes
- Plays on any Mac or PC with iTunes installed.
- Can’t be burned to DVD. The only way to watch it on your television is to connect your computer to your TV. Not an acceptable solution for most users.
- Can’t legally be loaned to friends or family.
- Surprisingly quite a bit cheaper than the DVD set. Some iTunes series are actually more than the equivalent DVD sets.
- No waiting. Episodes are available the day after they air.
Clearly there are some tradeoffs. The iTunes downloads aren’t entirely a bad deal if you can live with the limitations. It’s important to note that those limitations are not technology limitations, but rather limitations intentionally imposed by the copyright holders. As more content becomes available digitally you can expect to see more restrictions thanks to DRM.
It could be worse, if you had downloaded episodes of Survivor from CBS they would stop playing after 24 hours. The episodes literally self-destruct.
And that’s another problem with DRM. Every content owner will have their own set of rules that they want to impose. Rules that may vary across their product line based on the age and perceived value of each program. iTunes at least provides some form of standardized DRM. When you download a program you know what you’re getting into and you don’t have to worry that the next program you download will have a different set of restrictions.
Update: We’ve heard reports that a program called Tunebites may be able to convert your iTunes video files into a format that can be burned onto DVD. Tunebites is a commercial program that runs only on Windows PC’s — so if you’re a Mac user you’ll either need to run the program in a virtual PC environment, or look for another solution.
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Note: In some cases names and specific details may be altered to protect our readers.