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Digital Video Rights and Wrongs

What can you do with the video you buy and download off the Web? The answer depends on where you got the content. Most sites that have copyrighted content such as commercial movies prohibit reselling or redistributing the video file and use digital rights management schemes to back that up.

Beyond that, restrictions vary by the site. For example, you can use the videos you buy from iTunes on up to five authorized devices such as PCs and iPods. Google Video's copy-protected content--which includes most of its good commercial videos--plays only in its viewer app or on a PC with a live Net connection. Neither site lets you burn video to DVD for living-room playback.

CinemaNow has started allowing customers to burn a limited selection of purchased movies to DVD. These DVDs will work in your living-room player. Movielink recently said it plans to offer the same capability--via Sonic Solutions' software--once studios give the go-ahead. Prior to this change in policy, both services allowed you to burn mainstream-movie DVDs that played only in your PC.

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