Android Market Movie Rentals Blocked On Rooted Android Devices

Android Market Movie Rentals Blocked On Rooted Android Devices

Here's something that I'm not at all impressed with on the part of Google and Android. I read over at Engadget that Rooted Android devices won't be able to stream content from YouTube or the Android Market. Now, I don't have any plans at present to root my new Android Phone, but one never knows when something like that might need to be done for whatever reason and I'm all for being able to do that and still use the device as normal.

The Engadget article talks about the error, in which Motorola Xoom users who have rooted their device to get superuser privileges are unable to see paid content.

Google is squarely putting the blame on the movie studios and to me, it's a cop out.

Here's what Android Market Help says:

You'll receive this "Error 49" message if you attempt to play a movie on a rooted device. Rooted devices are currently unsupported due to requirements related to copyright protection.

So here we have another case of copyright protection getting in the way of content viewing. I don't really see what rooting your device has to do with copyright protection in the least. We buy the device, the operating system is supposed to be open source, we should be able to do whatever we want with it.

Copyright protection, in this case, seems to be a convenient excuse on the part of Google and the studios. Honestly, who would be attempting to pirate video content on their Xoom when they could just do it on their PC, set up a streaming media server (like Remote Potato which I just installed and am testing with my Android phone) and then stream the content to their own devices regardless.

Face it, the pirates are clever. If they weren't they wouldn't be a so-called danger to the bottom lines of the content creators because they would never figure a workaround on all these attempts to prevent them from getting to the content.

Now, I'm sure it will be only a matter of days or weeks before someone figures this out and has a solution and it's not really a major concern since only Xoom with Android 3.1 users are able to access the premium rental service at present. But it's set to be opened to Android 2.2 soon and that would mean a much larger audience, though the rooted devices will probably still remain fairly low overall.

I understand that studios want to secure their content. It's fine, we get it. But when it stupidly gets in the way of something that is otherwise fairly innocuous, like rooting your own Android device, it just shines a bright spotlight on the content providers' inability to grasp what it is people do with their connected devices and how we want to watch our content. Whether this is really Google's doing or because of the studios remains to be seen, either way, it's just poor form.

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Posted in Mobile Video
About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Rafael Quiles

    I've been way out of the loop on the smartphones but to my knowledge Android was sort of an open OS as compared to iOS which is not. So why would you need to "root" it?

  • Ronnie Bincer

    Like you said in the article, it sounds like a lame excuse, but I can see the "legal team" having fits about the non-controlled environment (i.e. rooted devices) and not knowing how that might turn into a legal issue in the future when they want to try to enforce their rights.

  • Tim Schmoyer

    I'm rooted. Guess what they're really saying is, "We haven't figured out a way to secure our content from rooted users." Why should that be our problem? (Although, as the content owners, they obviously have that prerogative.)

    • Christophor Rick

      Which makes me wonder what kind of lame duck copyright protection they're using that simply having superuser privileges supersedes the protection :)

  • Matt Henry

    I'm willing to bet it's only a matter of time until modders find a work-around.

    • Christophor Rick

      Abso! I stated that right in the article even :) We're clever, the lifehackers in the world, we'll find a way round it even if they don't want us to have one.