The meaning of Interoperable

Interoperability seems to be a theme for the day. Playing downloaded tracks on myriad portable players. Converting files to Wav, or CD. In the words of Mr Cohen:

“Interoperability is critical,” said EMI Music Senior Vice President Ted Cohen. “We need to get to that point, and people need to work together to do it.” Cnet

Regardless of Ted’s intentions (which are likely more open ended), in general, the entertainment industry truly means ‘limited’ interoperability: Interoperability according to certain limitations that match IP boundaries, business objectives, or corporate biases.

Case in point: DVD regions. From a technology point of view, I can see no reason why DVDs should be regionally encoded. From a business point of view, we can see the justifications – unique price points across the globe. Interestingly, these regions probably don’t match IP boundaries for every film release.

As the downloadable music stores go global, are we about to see a form of regional encoding? Whereby users in France cannot purchase tracks from US versions of the stores, even if the US is offering better prices. Or will the next stage be affixing licenses based upon the region of the Operating System? (Please, no).

While living in OZ, I was prevented from accessing the iTunes music store unless I produced a MAC account associated with a US address (Yes, I found an address to use.) CDs in OZ are quite expensive… so expensive that people like to order music from Amazon and hope for customs leeway (my observations).

With digital stores however, will Aussies, Norweigans and Japanese be treated to different prices from the rest of us? Will they be able to shop globally, as a response? (without producing international addresses). AND, if these customers do produce addresses outside of their home countries, who gets the money?

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