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Download-to-own Films Coming Soon 335

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the no-reason-to-leave-the-house dept.
riflemann writes "CNN is reporting that Universal Pictures will soon launch a service whereby films can be downloaded legally to own, i.e. non time-limited digital downloads. Currently most legally downloaded movies are time limited. Buyers will also receive a DVD version in the post. Is the movie industry finally listening? And how will they define 'own?'"
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Download-to-own Films Coming Soon

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  • wait, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:51PM (#14985363)
    Universal Pictures is doing this?

    ...and the MPAA hasn't responded yet? It's taking the MPAA this long to respond to a dangerous "piracy" issue?
  • 40$ for Kong? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrpotato (97715) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:52PM (#14985367)
    That's way to expensive. These guys still don't get it. Designed to fail.
    • Re:40$ for Kong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:56PM (#14985397)
      Yes, but in the process of failing they appear progressive, with the intent of deflecting criticism.

      "You see, Mr. Congressman? We tried the newfangled approach and it just doesn't work, you can't sell things on the Intarweb, so we're going back to our old-fashioned screw-the-consumer oligopoly. We know we can make money with that."
      • Re:40$ for Kong? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tinkertim (918832) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:26PM (#14985531) Homepage
        Ah no, they had to anticipate the new tier AT&T / Verizon surcharges into consideration when setting their pricing. I'm sure 'ma bell is going to want her cut of this too .. can't be making money off their network with 'cheap servers' like Google does, that would be simply unacceptable.

        It is bad enough the average parent can't afford to take a family of 3 - 4 to see a movie. Now they've gone and done this. Nimrods.

        What next, do I have to go buy my nachos at a cinema before I can watch the movie at home? Screw DRM, and screw them for gouging. Just wait till all of the torrent networks start forwarding traffic directly to them to let them know just what they think of the idea. You thought the slashdot effect baked a CPU .. heh. Ever try to reach an abuse contact in China?

        Bad move on that thar MS network guys. Bad Move.

        Jackasses.

        Off my soapbox.
        • Re:40$ for Kong? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:53PM (#14985631) Homepage
          Man can I borrow your soapbox ? Looks like yours has a big built-in amplifier :)

          Torrent networks don't "attack" things.. while it might be possible to add someone's IP to the list of tracked peers and generate bogus SYN traffic, it wouldn't accomplish much as Bittorrent clients are designed to initiate a connection less than once every 5 minutes to any given host or tracker.

          Rewinding to the main topic, the only way to communicate to these media conglomerates isn't whining on /. or threatening to pirate their movies. We are dealing with business.. big business. The only language businesses speak is the language of money. Don't buy their stuff.. any of their stuff! Stop buying DVD movies, stop going to the cinemas, tell little Nicky he can shove his Harry Potter up his ass. Now I'm not saying this will hurt the company, but their bean counters will notice and those bean counters are the ones in power. They won't listen to our voice, but they will listen to our dollars.

          The day common people understand the democratic power of money, is the day democracy will start working for everyone.
          • Re:40$ for Kong? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 24, 2006 @04:30AM (#14986448)
            Don't buy their stuff.. any of their stuff!

            I disagree. You can buy their stuff and still put even more economic hurt on them than a simple boycott.

            My strategy - buy used DVDs, buy them from rental stores for ~$5 a disc. Then lend them out to as many people as you can. I usually work at companies with mostly well-educated, well-paid employees. I lend my $5 used DVDs out to anyone who asks, after seeing another guy do it, I even keep an inventory of recent titles on my desk for easy borrowing.

            These people are the studio's target audience - the single people have plenty of disposable income and the parents have kids which dispose of their income for them. When I lend out my $5 copy of Star Wars ep3 to 20 people over 3 months, that's at least 10 less people who would otherwise have paid money to rent or buy (I presume the other 10 just borrow it because its free, so no real loss of business opportunity there.)

            For each $5, I am stealing (to use the MPAA/RIAA's favorite terminology) around $100 worth of business away from the studios and their associates (they've got 'revenue-sharing' deals with Blockbuster and Hollywood Video) and not only is it 100% legal, I also get to own the DVD of the movie too.

            You might not think that just one guy can make a difference - that might be true, but if you check Blockbuster Video's financial status, you will see they are soo deep in the red that they will probably be bankrupt within 3 years, maybe sooner. I claim complete responsibility for that!
    • Actually based on Amazon.co.uk that price is in line for what they pay for a movie in the UK.
      • I wouldn't base the cost of a movie in the UK just on Amazon. Stores such as Silverscreen, HMV, and WHSmiths all do offers quite frequently, the most common being "3 for £18/£20" (depending on the store you're in), or the aptly named "BOGOFF" (buy one get one for free). I buy DVD's quite often this way, my most recent purchase being MIB2, 40 Year Old Virgin and X-Files the movie for a nice tidy £18.

        However, we get screwed in other ways. Take Lost for example. In the US you've got Season 1
    • Loaners (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mfh (56)
      I agree. I rent movies all the time and when I do, usually a few other people watch them with me. I also lend them out when I'm done with them. I might keep a film -- if it's genre inspiring (like Devil's Rejects, for example).

      Typically a factory-direct model like this is CHEAPER than going through the middle man. Why would we pay MORE for it?
    • Re:40$ for Kong? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The cost of living comparisons are not directly related to currency conversion. Many consumer items are the same number here and there. So, think of 20 GBP as 20 USD despite the actual 'value'. Also, that number includes %17 taxes whereas here you add the sales tax on after. So, it is too much, but not nearly as bad as it sounds.
    • This is an interesting development but the price point is too high, for most movies, for the moment.

      Most blockbuster titles over here are priced at less than price they are quoting here in the stores. They are even cheaper if you buy from an online store and wait for them to be shipped. So at the release price point there is little to offer except a legal way to own a digital copy of the movie. There are people that will pay for this as players become available. Remember this is targeted at ordinary peopl

  • Security Measures? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eMartin (210973) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:53PM (#14985374)
    "Security measures will make it impossible to e-mail the film to somebody else."

    What else will they prevent us from doing?
    • Do these security measures prevent customers from dropping the movies into their shared directories and letting others access them via P2P? Or do they prevent the customer from ripping the actual DVD to an mpeg or whatever and emailing it to anyone?

      And why would someone want to send a huge movie via email anyway when there are more effivient ways to share?

      • "Do these security measures prevent customers from dropping the movies into their shared directories and letting others access them via P2P? Or do they prevent the customer from ripping the actual DVD to an mpeg or whatever and emailing it to anyone?"

        More likely they will be "tagged" with a UID so it can be tracked back to you when found on P2P. As for emailing it, you aren't suggesting that an ISP email system can handle 4+ gigs of data in one file are you? Most of them don't do more than a meg or 2.

        B.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:24PM (#14985522)
      What else will they prevent us from doing?

      Well, given how quickly every protection scheme that has come down the pike so far has been cracked, I'd have to say ... not much.
    • by skaet (841938)
      This raises the question of what formats will the movie be offered in? Sure we might get a PC version but I'm certainly not going to use it if it requires a proprietary player - and how long would it take for a crack that lets us copy the file from someone else and watch it? What if they come contained in a self-playing executable (such as Bink Video).

      The files would also have to be within a reasonable size, the current 700MB standard would be perfect so I could burn it to a CD for later playback. Will t
    • by Amouth (879122) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:51PM (#14985624)
      I think the file size alone will prevent "e-mail" ing the film to anyone..

      if i got a full length movie sent via e-mail to me and the mail server accepted it i would first fix the mail server then beat the person who sent it to me
    • Will it prevent it any more than it prevents me from emailing my .m4p FairPlay iTunes tracks to a friend? If so, I'd like to know how. Other than the fact that mail servers, ISPs and everyone else involved in the process of sending an email will come knocking with a shotgun if you try to send an entire movie via email. Prevent the recipient from playing the file, certainly, but I think they'd require a complete rewrite of the email system to prevent the file itself from being sent.
    • by Doppler00 (534739) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:00AM (#14985660) Homepage Journal
      What it essentially means is that these movies are not "download to own". They are probably only functional as long as your PC's generated key is properly validated against their servers. Once this mechanism no longer functions, you will not be able to watch the movies. Download to own this isn't.
    • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:03AM (#14985672) Homepage Journal
      Well, if I can't email directly, I can Email them a link to the file [yousendit.com] which is stored on a separate server and let them get it from there anonymously. Actually, I can input a fake email address with this service and just paste the link that's generated to SEVEN other people.

      I've said it before, I'll say it again. There's ALWAYS a way around some security measure, and as usual, it's been around for some time now. Anything in the DMCA covering pre-existing services that only now happen to circumvent distribution/content-protection?
      • "Anything in the DMCA covering pre-existing services that only now happen to circumvent distribution/content-protection?"

        Actually, yes. There is no "grandfather clause" in the DMCA. Just ask anyone that recieved DMCA takedown notices for linking to DeCSS.

        B.
    • What else will they prevent us from doing?

      Viewing it. If you can view it you're a "pirate". Arrr!!
  • zones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by noelo (661375) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:54PM (#14985376)
    I wonder will they enforce region encoding on these DVDs or will they be zone free....
  • Own (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:54PM (#14985383) Homepage
    How will they define own?

    Ownership agreement:

    You will not make backup copies of your files.
    You will not have your files on more than one computer.
    You may not share the files under any circumstance.
    You may not playback the movie to more than 5 people.
    • Where did you get this from?

      OR

      if you are making this up, how the hell did it get modded up so high?
      • Re:Own (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eightyford (893696)
        Where did you get this from?
        OR
        if you are making this up, how the hell did it get modded up so high?


        The latter, and I have no idea. ;)
      • Re:Own (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zcat_NZ (267672)
        You will not make backup copies of your files.
        You will not have your files on more than one computer.
        You may not share the files under any circumstance.

        Standard DRM stuff. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

        You may not playback the movie to more than 5 people.

        The usual wording is more like "For home viewing only. This film may not be rented or shown in public, clubs, schools, churches, prisons, etc" .. You have four friends over for poker, that's a club. Don't even think about letting them watch a movie with
    • Re:Own (Score:5, Funny)

      by ErikTheRed (162431) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:22PM (#14985513) Homepage
      How will they define own?
      See: Pwn3d
    • So if you have 5 friends, someone's going to have to sit outside!
    • by Kenshin (43036)
      You may not playback the movie to more than 5 people.

      That would suck for families of six.

      One of them would have to sit in another room while everyone else enjoys the movie.
  • Still too much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:55PM (#14985387)
    $35? It won't take off until it goes below $20.

    • new dvd releases on amazon.co.uk arent much less. If that price includes the shipping of the DVD, the price for that + the data delivery overhead is reasonable.
  • Sounds good to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:55PM (#14985390) Homepage
    This sounds like a fine system to me. But there is always a catch. So...
    • The downloads will not be full resolution
    • This will only work on Windows
    • The DRM (which we all know is there) will be over the top (must use their player with no other open applications)
    • The compression will be bad
    • It will be in a hard to use format (i.e., can't put on your iPod or transcode it for that purpose)
    • etc.

    I predict at least two of those, probably 3. The second on the list (Windows only) is almost a certainty. Good luck to them, this sounds very good, but my experience tells me there are some major catches in there that we can't see yet.

    • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:3, Informative)

      by eMartin (210973)
      "It will be in a hard to use format"

      The article says they will give you a copy for use with portables.
    • Universal are missing a trick here, the best portable device for playing movies at the moment is the Sony PSP. Without a unified DRM format they were bound to go with the one that provides the largest target audience. Although Apple have been successful with iTMS it looks as though Universal's aim here is to ditch the middle man entirely, something going with Apple wouldn't allow them to do.
  • by O'Laochdha (962474) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:56PM (#14985400) Journal
    Let's face it, most downloaders aren't in it for the convenience. Whether it's an ideological beef with the MPAA, lack of funds, or just plain stinginess, most people don't want to pay for these movies. This might catch on among people who don't feel like going out to the store or waiting for it to come via online stores, but it's not going to curb illegal downloading.
    • by robertjw (728654) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:29PM (#14985540) Homepage
      Let's face it, most downloaders aren't in it for the convenience.

      Which brings up an interesting point, how big of a problem are illegal downloads of movies. Personally I don't download them, netflix is way more efficient and I can watch on my TV which has a bigger screen, better sound and a nicer chair than my computer. This is nice for people that want to download, but I don't see the masses downloading movies to their computer on a regular basis like they do music. Music downloads are a totally different animal. You can have thousands of songs, put them on shuffle and put them in the background (just like xmms is doing fo me right now). Movies aren't as versatile that way. If I'm going to watch a movie, I'm going to sit down and pay attention to it. There's no point for me having many thousands of movie titles.
      • by kwark (512736) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:58PM (#14985646)
        "I can watch on my TV which has a bigger screen, better sound and a nicer chair than my computer."

        In what century are you living? Modern dvd-players/recorders play MPEG-4 content, for about 50EUR you can get one with all necessary outputs for you surround system. Movies can be downloaded in different qualities:
        - 700Mb: 2channel mp3 with good enough picture quality
        -1400Mb: multichannel ac3 with good enough picture quality
        -4500Mb: stripped/recompressed DVD images in a good quality
        >7000Mb: untouched versions of originals

        "thousands of audio file.... Movies aren't as versatile that way. If I'm going to watch a movie, I'm going to sit down and pay attention to it. There's no point for me having many thousands of movie titles."

        You might have noticed that diskspace is dirt cheap these days. The same for DVDs on a 50cent DVD one can fit 6 movies. But if you have for example an modded xbox hookup up to your TV and a network disk it's almost the same as your music files example. With ease one can have a TB of movie data at your disposal, all you have to do is sit down and pick something.
        • In what century are you living?

          21st I think. Here in the states (I'm guessing you are not from the US since you priced in EUR) the average Joe that just rents DVDs isn't set up to easily download movies and write them to DVD the way you describe. I'm not disagreeing that downloading is slick, especially the way you describe, but there just isn't consumer domand for it. I believe the percentage of people that will go through the additional steps to download illegal movies and watch them as you appearan
      • I download movies legally nearly daily, http://movielink.com/ [movielink.com] is extremely convenient and for the movies I rent (the daily special usually or 50% discount) is as cheap or cheaper than blockbuster.

        Download size is 1 GB typically, it takes between an hour and two hours to download. You can output to your TV if you so desire, and resolution looks good enough that it probably would look fine on most TVs.

        LetterRip
    • by temojen (678985) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:41PM (#14985587) Journal
      Let's face it, most downloaders aren't in it for the convenience.
      BitTorrent is much more convenient that learning Japanese and moving to Japan just to watch cartoons...
  • by DerGeist (956018) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:57PM (#14985404)
    This is definitely something that could be very powerful -- like iTunes, except you get the CD in the mail as well. My guess for the "ownership" part of the movie would be it only works on the computer you downloaded it to initially and is, of course, bogged down with DRM that requires you to authenticate each time you use the media.

    This service could really be huge if they implemented something vaguely similar to FairPlay in the sense that you can put it on a few other computers, and instead of putting it on your iPod, you could have a 30 day "timeout" -- if you don't connect to the internet in 30 days and reauthenticate your DRM'ed movie, you can't play it. This way it'll still work if you go on vacation or whatnot.

    The big issue here is we're talking about a movie -- a multi-million dollar venue, corporations don't lightly toss around the idea of letting you put a $500 million production on five other computers for nothing. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction and not just some kind of sick ploy, like if they load it with horrible DRM that eats your soul and then afterwards (when the service rightfully bombs) they just say "eh, there's no market for this kind of service" and never try again. Anyway here's hoping.

    • I agree this is a step in the right direction, I can't wait to see more of this.

      Myself, I would like to see BSG available like this via some sort of subscription, ie I pay lets say $50-60, and I can download the episodes each week as it's released, and at the DVD release points, they send me the boxed set.

    • The big issue here is we're talking about a movie -- a multi-million dollar venue, corporations don't lightly toss around the idea of letting you put a $500 million production on five other computers for nothing.

      Huh? They currently sell DVDs which can be played on an unlimited number of computers. DVDs are encrypted sure, but it's been cracked, and people can rip and re-encode DVDs at the drop of a hat. You don't see the studios suddenly stopping distributing DVDs because of the piracy risk, do you?

      Non
  • Restricted Access (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ClamIAm (926466)
    For the past couple of years, I've been increasingly restricting the funds I contribute to the media cartels' war chests. Until they stop the lawsuit shenanigans and begin distributing media in DRM-free, non-patented formats, I will continue to do so. Besides, indie music and films are much better, so it's not like I've been missing much.
    • Besides, indie music and films are much better, so it's not like I've been missing much.

      No, it's really not. The vast majority of it is much, much worse. But there's a lot more of it, so the odds are good if you look hard enough you will find something that is better - or at least something that you like more.

      (Very long essay on current and classical ways of paying for entertainment and art deleted. It's been said more concisely, and probably better, by way too many others.)

      Er, right. In summary, everyo

  • by sakusha (441986) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:06PM (#14985435)
    This is so obscenely overpriced at $35 per movie, hell, you could buy 2 or 3 DVDs for that price. Do the studios not realize that they are driving customers away by price-gouging? This is the same crap we heard from the music companies when vinyl records were going up to $9 and CDs came out, they were supposed to be cheaper than LPs because they were cheaper to manufacture. But music CDs are still way more than $9 (even accounting for inflation).
    The media companies look at every new format as an opportunity to raise prices, even when the cost of manufacturing and distribution drops significantly.
    • That price is for the UK, and is in line for what they would expect to pay based on a short trip to Amazon.co.uk. War of the Worlds for example is running about $5 more then the download price of Kong.

      Though it's more then the Amazon.co.uk price for Kong.

      • The prices are way more than are available elsewhere online. Play.com offers King Kong for 15 quid ($26 US), and Pride & Prejudice and War of the Worlds are both 13 quid ($22.50 US). And that gets you a downloaded copy that only plays on Windows and which you can't burn to DVD - but apparently can keep forever, and a second copy somewhat strangely through the post.

        If they were to say you can download a copy - even if they provided their own app to burn to DVD - and that's it for, say, 10 quid then this

    • Do the studios not realize that they are driving customers away by price-gouging?

      They don't realize it because it's not true. People continue to buy what they want at a price that is acceptable to them. If it's not acceptable, why are they buying? It isn't as though movies or music are essential goods that people need to survive. Just because you personally think something is overpriced does not make it price gouging.
    • This is so obscenely overpriced at $35 per movie, hell, you could buy 2 or 3 DVDs for that price.
      Heh, just think about what this could do to the aftermarket: no more previously-watched movies. They need to drop the price considerably before I even start to consider buying new.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:08PM (#14985445) Homepage Journal

    Heh, from their FAQ [lovefilm.com]:
    Broadband internet connection recommended.

    +9000, Duh
  • my anal-orgy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "And how will they define 'own?'"

    I OWN a car, I can lend it to anyone I please and I can drive it on all public roads in my country. Yes there are limitations, I can only accomodate as many people as the law allows. But if I am not allowed to lend it to anyone i like, I dont own it. So no, this does not actually satisfy my definition of OWN
  • No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <{markt} {at} {lynx.bc.ca}> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:15PM (#14985486) Journal
    My bandwidth is too valuable to waste on stuff I can just go and buy at a video store for about the same price (and considering I could be back from the video store in about 10 minutes, I'd have the movie a lot faster getting it myself too).
    • I could be back from the video store in about 10 minutes

      The prime market for Netflix and download services is middle class and suburban. Bandwith is cheap, postage is cheap.

      Instant gratification isn't worth a weekend run into town.

    • My bandwidth is too valuable to waste on stuff I can just go and buy at a video store for about the same price

      Ahhh, the paradox of greed. Others have pointed out that the download service costs more than the DVD, yet it will save the big publishers money. Oh yeah, once enough people are using DRM'd downloads, the DVD "hole" and your local store will be closed. Sorry, but you don't have a choice about it.

      Did you mention competing movie makers? The MPAA has a plan for them too. First up is all digital

      • Well, hopefully by the time my local video store is closed, I'll be able to download a movie to my hard drive in the same time or less than it would have taken me to go to the video store and buy or rent the DVD.

        For the time being, it's simply more convenient to go a nearby video store than to wait for a movie to download to your system.

  • First movie (Score:4, Funny)

    by ltwally (313043) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:19PM (#14985504) Homepage Journal
    "King Kong" will be the first film available as part of the new service.
    Great... so they chose the one movie that no one pirated. I can see the headlines now, "LEGAL MOVIE DOWNLOADS OFFERED, YET PEOPLE STILL CHOOSE PIRACY!!"

    Seriously, I hope they pay me to download this crap... I know it sure isn't worth my money, or even watching for free, for that matter

  • A little over five years ago the idea of offering download-to-own movies struck me after reading an article on illegal downloading and the complaints about movie theatres. While it may not have been an innovative idea or a stretch to fathom (I thought it was unique), I genuinely thought the system could work. You sign up and download a movie at full resolution. And it's yours to keep, no restrictions other than the obvious. And you would pay around the neighbourhood of $10. That's roughly double the cost of
  • Betting On (Score:2, Insightful)

    by u16084 (832406)
    For that Price... They are betting on "impulse" buyers. And everyone is right, it is setup to fail. Movies are not the sort of thing "You JUST MUST HAVE NOW". (Not for $35) If you consider thet latest articles on /. - The Taxation (extortion) that is proposed on bandwidth hungry sites. Shipping Costs etc etc. Yes, someone is going to comment on that the DVD/Movie industry is over priced and they could afford it. But which studio is going to come forward as say "Welp, the consumer was right, we were ripping
  • They have a limited selection and it's not full resolution, but the quality is actually pretty good. But it's pretty cheap. "Rentals" are even cheaper and the limitations on watching them is fairly reasonable.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:02AM (#14985665) Journal
    At the speed of my connection (at home, not at work, and (alas) no longer at college), it'll be faster for me to wait for them to mail me the disc. On the other hand, at the price point they're offering, I may as well just buy the disc online and splurge on the second-day shipping.

    Your feeble marketing skills are no match for the power of the Postal Service! You will pay the price for your lack of vision!

    I'm serious about that lack of vision thing. I give them kudos for at least trying, but trying in a way that is bound to fail isn't innovation - it is just plain stupid.
  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:02AM (#14985666)
    Apple is widely rumored to be in negotiations with the studios to add feature films to the iTunes Store, but the major hangup seems to be that the studios are insisting on a $9.99 a month subscription to keep a constant flow of cash coming their way, with an extra $13 or so on top of the monthly fee to keep movies after the term of the subscription ends. Jobs is having none of this, insisting on a $9.99 per movie fee with no monthly charge. You pay $10 and it's yours forever, and you don't have to keep spending money every month to maintain access to your files. The iTunes Music Store has had an enormous amount of success with this compared to the subscription models offered by other services, and it is more compatible with the existing customer mentality that when you pay for a film, it becomes part of your collection forever.

    The service proposed in the article is a perfect example of what we would get if the music industry got their way with iTunes music pricing. The labels are insisting they be allowed to charge more for newer, and more popular music (driving the prices of digital content closer to that of physical media) while offering "lower" prices for older content (Steve Jobs is resisting the increases). The Universal movie service will charge you $35 for new releases, and offer an "incredible" 50% discount on older films, which brings the price for the back catalog down to what you would pay for a physical DVD.

    Economics dictates that they can charge whatever the market will bear, but I think the past few years has proven that the market simply will not bear what the conglomerates are demanding. They have this fantasy that if online stores offer the same products that they aren't selling enough of in brick-and-mortar stores at the same, or a higher price than the brick-and-mortar stores, that sales will increase.

    The prevalence of file sharing had a lot to do with the convenience, but it was also much more a direct rebellion against the pricing schemes that the cartels had shoved down our throats for decades. iTunes killed two birds with one stone and took away the incredible premium they were demanding in retail stores, and adopted the convenience of the file sharing networks. Sales rebounded, and now they feel as if their original methodology was somehow correct and they can begin maximizing their profits by demanding more money for less product.

    They are unable to accept the notion that they have been wrong all of these years, and are terrified that Apple is increasingly making them irrelevant in the marketplace. They are not producing any physical product, the overhead and media itself is being paid for out of Apple's tiny cut (they've only recently passed break-even on the store) and they are collecting a lionshare of the proceeds for doing nothing but allowing Apple to reproduce the content they did not make. It's a zero-risk, zero-investment game with high returns for them and them alone. With fewer bands (even established ones) getting any attention from the marketing departments at major labels, the day is coming when they will be cut out of the arrangement altogether and bands upload their music on their own (as they can do right now when they lack a big-label contract prohibiting such things). If you're not getting any airplay, the only thing you need is GarageBand, a tour promoter and an iTunes merchant account. The 90% take the labels claim on each sale, and the indentured servitude they put bands in for the ridiculous expenses they charge to each group just isn't getting anyone but a few main artists any kind of return.

    The film studios are well-aware of the trap the music labels walked into, and want to ensure that any movie service has no room in it for the individual copyright holder and is arranged so if the movie studios are the only source for content, they get a monthly cut and there is no ability for individuals to upload their own films, as there is no way for them to tap into the monthly revenue stream going back to Hollywood.
    • Ummm... is $10 gonna cover Apple's costs?

      Cause a $10 album off iTunes isn't going to be more than 100MB... whereas a $10 movie is going to be at least 3~4 times as big (assuming it's formatted for the video iPod).

      That's a lot more bandwidth-per-dollar for Apple to be spending.
      • Ummm... is $10 gonna cover Apple's costs? Cause a $10 album off iTunes isn't going to be more than 100MB... whereas a $10 movie is going to be at least 3~4 times as big (assuming it's formatted for the video iPod).
        One $2 TV episode already clocks in between 200-300MB+, so I think it may be possible.
      • Cause a $10 album off iTunes isn't going to be more than 100MB... whereas a $10 movie is going to be at least 3~4 times as big (assuming it's formatted for the video iPod).

        Doing a quick bit of math, 4 billion bytes would take about 21000 seconds to send over a T1. You could do that 123 times in a 30-day month, earning $1230. As long as Apple can get bandwidth for less that $1230 per T1-equivalent, that part pays for itself.

        I know there are plenty of other costs, but I don't think that the cost of actu

  • This week, as more of an experiment than anything else, the iTunes Music Store began selling [macnewsworld.com] a downloadable version of the entire made-for-Disney-Channel movie "High School Musical" for $9.99 at iPod-video quality.

    Granted, the movie is still being shown on Disney Channel now and then, but it's a bit of a big deal in that this is being offered a couple of months ahead of the DVD release, and for about half the price.
  • SpaceChannel.TV will be doing this too. We're rolling out next week a download site (specific to the Space Entertainment, Space Sports, and Science Fiction market) where our programs may be purchased to own. AND -- 6 to 12 months later you'll be able to RESELL your copy through our site. Videos will be encrypted, and you'll have to be online for just a few seconds for our custom video player to grab the decryption key -- after a few seconds you can go offline and continue watching the video.

    We're not

  • too expensive (Score:2, Interesting)

    By the laws of supply and demand I feel they are asking for way too much. They are assuming the cost of overhead as if they had to send on trucks jewel cases and cds with printed media. But I guess wasting forty minutes downloading on painfuly slow lines is somehow worth 18 dollors.

  • Are they nuts? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:27AM (#14985771) Homepage
    $35 for new releases, $17.50 for older movies? What a bunch of crap. For the less popular new releases, you can buy the DVD for less than $20 and you still get the extra scenes and other junk that comes on the DVD. Why am I going to pay MORE for a lower quality version when I can go buy it cheaper and then rip it to whatever quality I want.

    I suspect their argument will go something like this: "See, nobody is buying them. Selling online doesn't work because everyone is pirating it." When I saw the headline I was surprised and optimistic, but then I read the fine print and it all made perfect sense.

    Oh well, the MPAA and RIAA are just putting themselves out of business. Too bad for them.
  • Price the movies equal to the admission of a theater ticket (thereby eliminating the theater's slice of the pie) and they will explode in growth. I don't
    mind paying $8 for a movie that I can watch in comfort at home with my own food.

    I think they could really make it big. But at $30 it's a no brainer...no one would use it

    iTunes became big because it's fair priced. $1 is not that much and you feel good about not pirating.

  • by twitter (104583) on Friday March 24, 2006 @01:42AM (#14986015) Homepage Journal
    Imagine a high contrast, grainy filmed NYC residential street. A woman walks along and is approached by another.

    Second Woman: Nice Purse!

    Cut to a parking lot with a man getting out of his 1978 Monte Carlo. Another man sees him and approaches. Things are dirty, dark and gloomy.

    Second Man: Nice car!

    Flash Words: Would you copy a car? Would you copy a purse? Cut back to parking lot, things are looking brighter.

    First Man: You really like it?

    Second Man: Yeah, it rocks. Can I have one?

    First Man: Sure, dude, it won't cost me much.

    First Man takes his keys out of his pocket, pushes a button and makes a second car appear. Scene is now full color.

    Flash Words: Of course you would copy a car if you could!

    Cut to Street, things are looking brighter here too.

    First Woman: I've got lots of these, have one.

    First Woman reaches into her purse and pulls out an identical purse.

    Second Woman: Cool, thanks a lot.

    Both make big smiles at each other.

    Flash Words: Sharing Is Good!

    Cut back to parking lot. The second car shimmers oddly.

    Second Man: Wow, thanks, that's really cool but it's not quite like the first one. What's up?

    First Man: Oh, my car has DRM. I can only make five copies and the copies are not perfect. In fact, my own car has a limited life and I have to constantly pay to enjoy it. Sometimes it does not work at all.

    Second Man: Bummer, dude, you got ripped off. Thanks anyway.

    Run Words: You would not put up with restrictions on your car, would you?

    Flash Words Separately: -DRM- -IS- -WRONG-

    End with Words: Don't be owned. Share your culture.

    • Maybe it is wrong. But it is not to you to decide, but owner of work, who owns copyrights. Exactly listen to word - copy right. He is the one who has full rights to copy. You have only mererly rights to "fair use", use song on your iPod/iRiver, computer in FLAC format, whatever. And even that not in all countries.

      That's the law. Like it or not. The same law GPL and BSD is founded on.
    • Don't forget, the car automagically stalls on a randomly defined half of the roads, because those roads don't support DRM (or the right kind thereof).

      It of course showed no signs of that on the show floor.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:12AM (#14986097) Journal
    I don't buy many DVDs and CDs, but I do BUY, when they are priced right.

    What do I own? For both music or video it averages about $5 a disc (on sale, ebay, cdbaby, Costco...)

    Priced more than that? I somehow find other distractions to fill the time.

    For me (and I am in the uber-top % of wage earners, per this site [globalrichlist.com]) it just isn't worth more than about $2-3 for a whole CD of music or $4-5 for a DVD. For others it might be less - but it is worth something. Downloading stuff for "free" isn't free - it takes time, burning it to discs cost money, and hey, you have evidence of a felony laying around now... who needs that?

    I do have an iPod - But I have spent $0 at iTunes. Why? Because CDEX and my own Discs work just fine, thank you.

    All my CDs and DVDs are from eBay, Costco, the "bargin bin" at Circuit City, etc. Full-retail just doesn't cut it. Even the annoying "join-now-get-X-discs-free" clubs work out to about $6/disc if you join, do the minimum, and quit.

    Whatever happened to the concept of "making more profit on volume?" Media companies are missing out on a lot of sales, IMO, with their current pricing strategy.

    While broke kids will always download stuff "for free", regular honest folks will buy tons of stuff at "Wal-Mart" prices - or not at all, when it comes to non-essential items like music and videos.

  • And how will they define 'own?'"

    Own: When the DRM rootkit is installed on your computer, you just got "pwned".
  • The UK price (Score:4, Interesting)

    by payndz (589033) on Friday March 24, 2006 @05:16AM (#14986555)
    A lot of Americans in the thread seem outraged by the price, but £19.99 is actually the standard UK recommended retail price for most new DVD releases.

    Of course, there's no way in hell I would ever pay that much for a DVD - supermarkets generally discount new releases to around £14, and online retailers like Play.com often go even lower. But somebody must be paying full whack for DVDs, otherwise places like HMV that do charge the full RRP would be in trouble...

    Reading TFA, the deal is that with this new service you get a large (presumably DRMed-to-the-hilt) file for use on a computer, a small copy for use on mobile devices... and an actual physical DVD. So what they're saying is "If we give you a digital backup of the physical DVD, that's fine. If you make a digital backup, you're a filthy pirate!"

    • Re:The UK price (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr_Barnowl (709838)
      WHY would I want to do this?

      If I can get the original media for, as you point out, £14 rather than £20, watch it, and if I so desire, trade it, sell it on, etc. I can then rip and transcode it, and play it on the device of my choice. Very useful for my work laptop, which is from the stone age and has no DVD-ROM.

      Or I can download it for *more money*. And get a complimentary physical backup of the DRM-ised file, which I cannot trade or sell on.

      They are either not thinking this through at all, or t

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