I’ve claimed that Miro is unusually liberal with the video files it downloads for watching. It treats them just like any other file on my computer. That might sound like a statement of the obvious, but it’s not true of most media files I haven’t created myself. For better or worse, the companies that own the copyright of much of our popular culture have successfully lobbied the companies that make most of our software, and arranged it so that copying media files is hard. This is why music purchased in iTunes can’t be listened to on most mobile phones, and why you cant copy several DVDs onto a laptop’s hard disk for watching on the plane. Whilst this is a reasonable carry over from the distribution of media on DVDs, CD’s and tapes, it is not without problems and it misses the opportunities the new distribution medium offers.
The generic name of this technology is DRM (Digital Rights Management), and it has been well described elsewhere. Founded on the simple premise that copying digital files should be as cumbersome as copying physical objects, it fails in my opinion because normal usage of digital files requires copying people are often unaware of, and the lack of a physical object makes it impossible for customers to easily comprehend the limits they face. So many people have a conception of how their computer works that runs counter to the decisions made in DRM systems that explaining them becomes a hopeless task. Sometimes I can copy it, and sometimes I cant. Sometimes I know I’m copying, and sometimes I don’t. This makes using media files a frustrating experience, and I personally try to avoid adding frustration to my life.
Miro completely lacks any attempt to implement a DRM system. This means that Miro never surprisingly prevents me from doing something reasonable, making using it simpler, and the files it downloads easier to watch.