Jason's Blog

Ownership VS. renting of movies

by on Mar.02, 2006, under General

Instead of the normal “Link of the Day”, I wanted to post this link to an article on ThinkSecret regarding movies and iTunes. Specifically, it talks about how Apple is in discussions with major studios to try and get movie content delivered through the iTunes music store. I wanted to highlight a few things in the article that stand out in my mind.

Let me quote from the article:
“Mr. Jobs is insistent that content be sold as a download-to-own model, as music is with the iTunes Music Store, but the movie industry as a whole favors the subscription model and appears unwilling to budge.” The big thing here is as I’ve repeated in past posts –THE MOVIE INDUSTRY DOES NOT WANT YOU TO OWN MOVIES. Let me repeat that.

Now, why do I emphasize this? Because this is at the hart of so much of the debate on upcoming HDTV, recording, and movie formats. What it comes down to is Studio’s seem to want you to pay and pay and pay for the rights to access movies. When you buy a movie, you pay them once. They don’t continue to make money off of this content afterwards. Further, you’re buying into only popular content. To release older content or not-so-popular content is more expensive. They don’t earn as much money. Every movie release is a gamble on whether it will make money. The movie studios want you to pay a subscription fee, in essence, so they can produce movies and budget things out, without having to worry about future sales.

THIS IS THE PRECISE PROBLEM. Instead of producing decent content, with-in a set budget, the movie studios in essence want a “tax” on consumers watching their content. You don’t get to pick and choose anymore – it’s an all or nothing thing. You either watch what they produce, and pay for all of the stuff, regardless of how bad the content may be, or don’t watch any of it at all. This is what a subscription model is in my view. The minute you stop paying that subscription fee, you can no longer watch your movies.

Let’s take this to another step – the TV. The debate going around the internet among the technologically savvy, or just the technologically aware, is on the new standard for television. In the future, instead of being able to record movies as you wish onto your VCR, Studios want you to just “rent” these shows.

LET ME CLARIFY – Your VCR will no longer work. Or, it may work, but in a VERY limited fashion. This ties into the whole concept of ownership/renting as stated above. Having the ability to record a show on TV means studios are not getting any money off of tape/dvd sales – a bad thing in their view. Thus, the strong emphasis on DRM and controlling what you can record using this new HD format. What’s worse, is this format is going to be REQUIRED in the future. You won’t have an option BUT to use this new format by I think 2007 (I’ll look it up later).

SO, to sum up. Movie studios don’t like you owning content. In a few years, particularly with the new “high-definition” formats coming out, you won’t have ANY control over the content. Next, they want you to pay them a subscription fee in order to view this content. Last, your normal means of saving this content to watch again is going to be wiped out when you are forced to switch to HDTV in the future.

In other words, we’re ALL getting screwed, by a VERY large pig known as the movie industry/recording industry/etc. SO, WAKE UP AND PAY ATTENTION. God knows, right now, I almost wish for the blink tag back to emphasize this, as it can’t be emphasized enough. And, let me add this real quick to all those who think there’ll be an easy solution around this. The DMCA. The fact that this encryption system is a LOT harder to break. Lawyers. LOTS of money being thrown around. In other words, getting around this stuff is not really going to be an option for most people. And, if you do try and get around it, you’re branded as a criminal and have your pants sued off. Literally. Then big hairy men come from behind you and… well, you get the picture. So, take a gander at some of these links:

WritersBlockLive post on this (as seen previously on poetshome)
ArsTechnica commentary on DRM vs. Fair Use (i.e. protecting content vs. using a VCR)
BIG discourse on DRM and why it’s BAD.
Boycott AACS site

EVERYONE. Wake up call time. Get up, call your senator, call your representative. Post some of these links along with more information. THINK about the stuff I’m talking about, please, before watching television as you choose is a crime.

5 Comments for this entry

  • Laura

    I completely agree, love.  I really hate that our government is doing absolutely nothing to try to control this abuse of our rights.  And I am really beginning to hate big businesses as well…*sigh*

  • Stephen

    I don’t know about you, but as it stands now I haven’t used a VCR (magnetic tape) in ages. I’ve got bright house cable, with a high definition DVR which actually records HDTV content.  The control of what we consumers can do with this content we record is already happening – the HD DVR that I got from the cable company (as well as the SDT DVR I also have) is equipped with digital video in/outs via usb and DVI/HDMI, and these interfaces are purposefully inactive. A software hack is required to actually get content from the DVR in the digital domain over to another device (like a DVD recorder or computer hard drive). I have yet to try it – it’s on my “to do” list.

    Since this practice (limiting what you can do with content that you have recorded) is already in place, I see great difficulty in getting the powers that be to change this. I completely agree with you on the subject of contacting elected representatives to make them aware of this, but I fear many are aready in the hands of lobbyists from the entertainment industry who are “showing them the money.”

    I really like the site design by the way –

  • Jason McIntosh

    Hmm, well, I haven’t used a VCR in a LONG time, but I do use it on occasion.  The trick is, we’re more “technically” savvy people.  People like grandmothers/fathers, or those who aren’t as familiar with technology, VCR’s are usable at the very least.  Now, I find DVR’s to be even simpler, but what happens when grandmother wants to record a show for visiting kids?  Oh, she can use the DVR, but when that gets full?  Unless I can burn a DVD to keep for long term, there’s a problem.

    As a note, related to having a DVR – I’ve got one, and love it.  It does have FireWire support, as well as USB external storage support – at least in theory.  However, it’s completely unusable at this point without some major hacks.  I haven’t had the time to do so, and i don’t technically own the unit, so there’s that concern.  It does record HDTV too, btw.  In the end, without a way to get the video off of these devices so I can store them for later viewing, they’re handy for weekly television shows I may not care much about, but problematic for movies which I may want long term.  Particularly videos which you can’t find on DVD, which happens all too frequently (or, they’re on DVD for an exorbitant cost in relation to the price of a blank dvd/vcr/etc)

    SO, we’ve still got a problem.  VCR’s, maybe not so much of a problem for most people, but still a problem for quite a few.

  • Erika

    This is totally insane. Even if I record a show, if I really like the series, I will buy the DVD when it comes out. I don’t use a VCR too often anymore, since I have TiVo, but I do still use it on occasion because, frankly, I can’t afford to buy a DVD recorder. Yeah, I could have gotten a TiVo box with one, but it would have cost more money. Which, when it comes right down to it, is what this is about. People who don’t have money are going to get screwed, and the people who do either aren’t going to care because it doesn’t affect them or are going to be making money because they own the content. Makes me give communism a second thought…

  • Stephen

    About 6 months ago I bought a cheap (under $200) DVD recorder/VCR combo, mostly for the purpose of archiving old video tapes, and also so that I can permanently store DVD versions of the stuff I want to keep on the DVR. It doesn’t have any sort of digital video in (which I didn’t really care about as I usually only use my G5 for my DV camera to DVD), so the best quality input is S video. If I had waited a bit, I could have had one with the digital video in.

    Eirka, I’ve seen a few stand alone DVD recorders recently (off brands, but the transports and electronics are usually made by big companies anyway) on sites like http://www.overstock.com and http://www.bestbuy.com for under $90. That way you could at least put stuff from your Tivo to DVD.

    As for the communism – I lived in Poland in the very early eightes (during communism there) and times were much simpler. I don’t mean that I would want to go back to that, but there was definitely not much of a class divide – and people interacted with people, as opposed to electronics. I miss that part of it sometimes.

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