Toy Story 3 heralds ultimate space shifting

Pixar's animated blub-fest Toy Story 3 is the first major movie to offer free HD streaming as part of the purchase price.

Space shifting - or format shifting as it is commonly known - has always been a major bone of contention on both sides of the copyright argument.

Big Media is obviously keen for you to pay as many times as possible for any given work because it fills their bulging coffers with more cash. You watch the movie at the cinema, buy it on DVD, pay to download it to your iPod, then cough up some more dough to watch it on your laptop while you're away on business.

The anti-copyright lobby has been keen to see an end to this perpetual cycle of payments arguing that, if you brought the DVD, you should be able to view that content on any device you see fit to move it onto. The law on making copies of movies is complicated and confusing, and has benefited no-one but lawyers, as far as we can see.

Now it seems that Disney (which has never exactly been seen as a paragon of customer freedom) has seen the error of its ways (or at least the monetary incentives offered by customer-friendly new media models) and has decided to pioneer a new era in movie history by offering an HD streaming version of Toy Story 3.

You will, of course, have stump up 25 bucks for the exclusive three-disk DVD box set of the third episode of the adventures of Woody the plastic cowboy and his space-age buddy Buzz Lightyear, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Oh... you'll also need to live in the USA because it's only available through Walmart and uses Vudu-compatible set top boxes or Boxee player software.

It's not clear how you will prove you own a physical copy of the DVD from the information we have, but we'd be willing to bet that there's some kind of email registration and code retrieval involved.

It's about time the music and movie industries realised the only viable way to cut down on piracy is to allow people to enjoy the media they have paid good money for wherever and whenever they they want.

Now all we need is for all books to have a code printed on the jacket which will allow us to read a digital version on our portable devices and we'll be half way happy. Come on book publishing industry. If Disney can play the 21st century game anyone can.