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Movie Downloads to Coincide with DVD release 313

gihan_ripper writes "The movie download firms Movielink and CinemaNow have made a deal with the big five studios to ensure that downloads will coincide with DVD releases at Blockbuster and WalMart. Unlike previous deals, these will be full purchase downloads, and not merely for a rental period. The move is aimed at stemming the rising tide of pirate downloads, and DRM will be in force to prevent copying the movies to DVD. The first batch of downloadable movies will include Brokeback Mountain, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and King Kong."
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Movie Downloads to Coincide with DVD release

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  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:58AM (#15049246)
    Who wants to download something you can't burn and then watch on your home theater?

    I will just buy the DVD thanks.
  • Nice idea, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coffeechica ( 948145 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:59AM (#15049248)
    Unlike their current services, in which online shoppers pay around $4 to rent new movies for up to a month, the films will be sold for prices "similar to home video," says Ramo.

    Are they trying to deliberately kill the idea of movie downloads? Simultaneous release, same price... why should anyone wait for a few hours for a download when it's just as quick to get the actual DVD? And costs as much? The DVD can be passed on to others and there's no need to install special software on the PC to actually get it running.

    Looks very much like an alibi action - "we tried to offer it, but nobody wanted it! So why should we bother?"
  • Let me guess (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Adult film producer ( 866485 ) <van@i2pmail.org> on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:00AM (#15049254)
    320x240 video, 96kbps mp3 audio + some drm monkey dung.

    Or I could run over to a torrent site and get BareBack Mountain,

    RiPPER......: Replica GENRE......: Drama/Romance
    ViDEO TYPE..: NTSC RUNTiME....: 134 min
    AUDiO TYPE..: DD5.1 STORE DATE.: 04/04/06
    iMDB RATiNG.: 8.0 RLS DATE...: 03/17/06

    I wouldn't mind paying for it but make it worth my while.
  • by Professor_UNIX ( 867045 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:01AM (#15049259)
    Offering movies and then restricting them to a PC, most likely some form of Windows Media DRM crap, for the same price as you could buy the unencumbered DVD in the store is not a way to market a new service! This is even worse than iTunes Music Store and their lossily encoded AAC DRM-restricted music files. At least with that you can burn a sub-CD quality version to a CD and rerip it to MP3 format to archive it.
  • WIndows only? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Selivanow ( 82869 ) <selivanow@gmail.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:02AM (#15049264)
    Both companies seem to only support Windows and IE. What about the other half of the planet. Opensource aside, there is still a pretty big Mac base out there. It makes great market sense to alienate a group of users like that.
  • So basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:02AM (#15049268)

    The move is aimed at stemming the rising tide of pirate downloads, and DRM will be in force to prevent copying the movies to DVD.

    So basically, they aim to compete with piracy by selling me something less convenient at a higher price? Genius!

    Seriously, when are they going to get it that the only thing they have going for them is convenience? The black market of free downloads is always going to be cheaper. The only way you can fight it is to offer a better, more convenient product. And tying it up with DRM that prevents what is probably the second most desired feature after watching it is only going to screw that up.

    Why would I buy from them when I can get a copy that I can burn to DVD at a cheaper price? It's sad when anonymous pirates can provide better customer service than multinational corporations that created the damn thing in the first place.

  • Re:Brokeback (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:05AM (#15049283) Journal
    Why would somebody be embarrased to see a 2 hours Marlboro [rareads.com] commercial? well ok ok, only the first half of the movie was, but seriously I was just waiting to listen to the man saying "come to where the flavor is, come to the Marlboro Country" (or the equivalent in the USA ad)
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:06AM (#15049297)
    So basically they expect people to watch the films exclusively on their PC, rather than their living room TV. You end up with a product much worse than a DVD for a strikingly similar price. To make it even worse, you have to spend hours of your own broadband bandwidth to download it.

    Not only that, DVDs can regularly be had for reduced prices at high street DVD stores, I'm willing to bet these downloads will not have equally aggressively prices sales periods.

    This just lends credibility to people saying they are basically just setting legal downloads up to fail, so they can push for harder legal restrictions afterwards.

    A download is a lower quality product than a hard copy DVD, as you don't get the physical copy and packacking. Since there is no physical reproduction, no physical transport and no extra goodies, people have certain expectations to price. Since you don't get physical media, your investment is a lot less secure.

    Any download replacement should be:
    a) much cheaper
    b) convenient
    c) easy to backup

    This product fails on all of these points.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:08AM (#15049309)
    Now that you can download movies anywhere in the world as soon as the DVD is released, there's no reason for discs to have region codes anymore.

  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:08AM (#15049310)
    Who wants to download something you can't burn and then watch on your home theater?

    I dunno, who wants to buy a movie you can't rip to your PC without violating the DMCA?

    Oh, that's right, everybody.
  • I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigmouth_strikes ( 224629 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:09AM (#15049318) Journal
    Exactly... If the download is at the same price as a DVD, all I get is a ripped DVD but without the backup. Where's the value in that ?

    The download should either be

    * Full retail DVD price, allowing backups, format shifting etc. Collection format.
    * Rental DVD price, with DRM restrictions. Throwaway format.
  • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DannyO152 ( 544940 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:11AM (#15049329)
    Why do their work for them? I say, if they don't want to release in a format I can use, then they proceed without my dollars and with my negative word-of-mouth.
  • Re:WIndows only? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:12AM (#15049335)
    What about the other half of the planet

    I think you meant to say, "what about the other 8% of the planet?". And guess what, you've answered your own question!
  • by Ilex ( 261136 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:13AM (#15049338)

    DRM will be in force to prevent copying the movies to DVD.

    Joe six pack will soon discover the evils of DRM when they can't burn the film they legally paid for onto DVD to watch on their new HD TV or their HDD / Computer fails and they have to buy all their movies again. Unlike the pirates who can happily burn / backup their W4r3z.

    A lot of people, especially the tech savvy ones will still choose to get the pirate downloads. Remove the DRM and let people burn their own DVD's.

    Let me spell it out for the MPAA! Will you pay for a product which is inferior to one you can get for free?

  • by tessaiga ( 697968 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:14AM (#15049346)
    Unlike their current services, in which online shoppers pay around $4 to rent new movies for up to a month, the films will be sold for prices "similar to home video," says Ramo.
    Ramo (Chief Executive of Movielink) is more explicit in a separate LA Times article [latimes.com] where he admits that Movielink will actually be selling the online downloads for about double the street price of the physical DVD. The article quotes movie studios as saying that they don't want to alienate their existing DVD sales channel operators, since DVDs currently account for 46% of studio sales -- about double the take from the box office.
    Piracy fears also prevent online services from giving technological early adopters what they really want -- the ability to watch downloaded movies on their televisions. That's because the studios insist that downloadable movies include rigorous safeguards on copying. Users, for instance, can burn a DVD of a downloaded movie, but it will play only on a PC.


    Ramo said download-to-own movies would sell for $20 to $30 -- up to double the $15 that discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. charge for DVDs, with downloads of classic titles for $10 to $17. He said the premium reflected the convenience of the service and the flexibility to transfer the digital download to two computers, as well as the ability to create a backup DVD that also would play on computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

    Reading quotes like this really make me wonder if some of these executives are living in a bizarro parallel reality, or if they've just gotten accustomed to spewing this sort of doublespeak nonsense with a straight face. Supposedly consumers will be happy to pay double for the "flexibility" of being able to back up their new movie to computer and play them on their computers. Well, when I buy the physical DVD from the store, surprise surprise, I can play my DVD on my computer OR the TV -- and guess which display I'm going to be watching most of my shows on, my 20" monitor screen or the 35" TV downstairs? Backing up the DVD is a snap too, and I don't have to deal with the annoying hassle of Movielink/CinemaNow's homebrew DRM.

    Last I checked, paying more for something that I can do strictly less with wasn't the dictionary definition of "flexibility", but hey, I'm not a high-paid exec, what do I know.

  • Downloading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Secret Agent X23 ( 760764 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:21AM (#15049377)
    Seems to me the industry wants to offer downloads just because they've heard people like to download movies, as if they (the movie execs) think the act of downloading were, in itself, the objective. And if it flops because people don't like the prices and/or the restrictions, the executives won't understand -- because, after all, they were letting us "download."

    Well, I dunno. That's the way it sounds to me.

  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:27AM (#15049400)
    .why should anyone wait for a few hours for a download when it's just as quick to get the actual DVD?

    Exactly. Even with cable internet on a popular torrent, you're still looking to at least an hour for a 1.4GB compressed copy, even longer if this service uses full 4.6GB uncompressed. I can go outside, wait for and take the bus, buy a hard copy, and get home all before this is done. Or just pick it up on the way home from work.
  • Re:Brokeback (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:27AM (#15049402)
    You know, anyone as afraid as you to be associated with anything gay is a lover of teh cock in denial.
  • by novus ordo ( 843883 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:37AM (#15049465) Journal
    That's around $20 to $30 for newer films, and $10 to $20 for older flicks. CinemaNow intends to be more aggressive, offering some of its new flicks for under $20 and to build traffic, it will offer a two-for-one sale at the outset.

    Movies can't be "burned" or copied onto disks that can be played on other devices, such DVD players. The movies, however, can be copied to play on as many as two other PCs, says Ramo.

    Why the hell would anyone want to pay that kind of money for crippleware? These guys just don't get it. Internet distribution should be a godsend because it costs them close to nothing to distribute. They think it's some special service that is oh so convenient. It's like the house I was looking at the other day, there's a train station 30ft away and they actually charge $10k more because "it's a convenience." Yeah I want my house to shake every 20min and wake me with the horn, how convenient.
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:38AM (#15049470)
    So basically they expect people to watch the films exclusively on their PC, rather than their living room TV.

    Not that I'm defending the idea (I think it's a step in the right direction, but that it doesn't go far enough), but as media PCs become more and more common, more people watching the films "exclusively on their PC" will be watching it on "their living room TV".

    Perhaps this sort of thing will be a more attractive proposition as media centre-style PCs become more common, but it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation - without a compelling reason to buy one, few people will...
  • Re:Can't Burn? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neersign ( 956437 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:55AM (#15049594)
    I think cost is what drives piracy, and I think it's time the movie industry and recording industry realized this. Instead of spending more money on DRM that will be cracked anyway, they should just give in and realize that no one wants to pay $20-30 for one DVD. The people I know who purchase DVD's on a regular basis only buy them when they are on sale for $10 or below.

    and, as you were hinting, people who pay for and download a movie should be entitled to burn it to dvd if they choose. I don't see how this new DRM is going to stop a person who pirates movies now. The DRM is only going to piss off legitimate purchasers whose only means of watching a DVD on their tv is thru a DVD. And you may say, "well then they need to buy a DVD and not download it." But how many people do you think are going to pay to download the movie and then realize they can't burn it? I think that number is going to be huge at first, then enough people will get sick of dealing with whatever tech support they try to call to fix the problem, then they are going to tell all of their friends, who tell all of their friends, which in turn decreases the number of people who download any movie legitimately, which makes it not even worth the effort to begin with. And in the end, the DRM might have effectively stopped 2 people from pirating the movie.

  • DVD prices (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justthinkit ( 954982 ) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:08AM (#15049670) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who finds that DVD prices are very much better these days? I just bought a special edition (Red Heat) for $7 from Amazon, for example. At these prices what is going to compete with DVDs? Certainly not HD DVDs. Certainly not DRM limited downloads, at any price.

    It seems to me the whole movie downloading thing started because DVDs were over priced. Now it seems that they aren't.

    Score one for the good guys.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:16AM (#15049727) Homepage Journal
    Unlike previous deals, these will be full purchase downloads, and not merely for a rental period.

    Which is DoubleSpeak, because it's untrue. If you can't transcode it to run on other devices, extract clips for purposes allowed under Fair Use, and the DRM prevents you from playing a restored backup on an upgraded or reinstalled purchase, it's not a full purchase now, is it. . .
  • Re:So basically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:17AM (#15049728)
    it will go up on the pirate boards just like it does now

    What does that matter? It's *ALREADY* there anyway.


  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:21AM (#15049764)
    They don't want to kill movie downloads - they want to kill physical media and not give consumers a price break. Americans pay far less for movies and music than the rest of the world, and the movie companies would make a hell of a lot more money by narrowing distribution down to a single middleman with no costs for physical media. It would also mean no more movies passed around between friends, shown at parties, schools, etc.. Sure people probably won't pay full price for downloads now, but the service can take a loss for a few years while they work out the bugs, and then Harry Potter six or seven can be released as an internet exclusive, at which point the movie companies start abandoning physical media and start reaping huge profits.
  • Bullpuckey. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C0deM0nkey ( 203681 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:22PM (#15050990)
    I can't believe I'm allowing myself to be dragged into this but...

    I'm ready to defend myself in court.

    Good luck with that...your tail will be handed to you. No matter how you try to portray it, the point will remain that you downloaded and viewed content distributed through (presently) illegal channels.

    Look. I agree with you in principle; my family thinks its funny how upset I get over those anti-piracy commercials. My five-year-old can recognize those as "the commercials Daddy don't like". But your "jab" at "The Man" or whatever it is you *think* you are doing to the *AAs out there only fuels their propaganda. Try before you buy does not apply.

    You've got plenty of options to exercise your rights that are perfectly legal:

    • Don't watch the movie. Period.
    • Read reviews: check independent review sites and check with friends *before* you see the movie. This may require you to skip the first few weeks that the movie is open. Having principles is tough, man. :)
    • See the movie at the "cheap seats" i.e. go to a second run theater (usually costs less than a rental). Now you've probably had to wait a month or two.
    • Rent the movie

    When you circumvent the legal distribution channel (whether you agree with it or not), what you tell the *AA is: "I *really* value your product, enough so that I will do whatever it takes to get it and I'm also willing to contribute to your propaganda regarding piracy and illegal downloads by actually being a participant in your (already) inflated statistics!". What you are not telling them is: "Your product sucks, your business model sucks, your distribution channels suck and your attitude to wards your own customers sucks. Until you change your act, I'm not willing to give you any more of my money."

    Which do you think will be more effective:

    • Committing what is presently defined as a criminal offense (and not likely to change if you live in the US).
    • Hitting them in the pocket book by denying them first-run revenues

    Here's a hint: This isn't "civil disobedience" - its theft of service (or something of the sort - spare me the "theft only applies to physical property, yadda, yadda, yadda arguments - the point is that you've not paid for something for which you are obligated (presently) to play; there is no one feeling sorry for you who is willing to do anything about it.

    You want to be effective: convince your friends and family to stop going to the first-run theaters; convince your friends and family to not download DRM'ed DVD images (should be an easy sell); if you can, convince your friends and family to not purchase DVDs.

    If you value the content enough to view it (and you are giving up 120 minutes, on average, of your time to view it) you should pay the $3-4. Its not your content and the owner of that content has a right to earn money from it. Your *only* rights are to choose not to view the content or purchase the product upon which the content is found.

  • Re:So basically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flood6 ( 852877 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:35PM (#15051114) Homepage Journal
    Because there is money to be made here. There are plenty of people who would be willing to pay money to download a legal copy of a movie if they could burn it to DVD or stream it to their TVs. It would be worth it to them to avoid breaking the law.

    I don't know how many of these people there are out there or what exactly they'd be willing to spend, but as far as I know, no one in the movie industry has bothered to look into it.

    This is simialr to iTMS where a large portion of the customers are aware that they can download the latest $boy_band magahit from $p2p_network, but choose to go the legal route.

  • Re:Brokeback (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:37PM (#15051135)
    You know, anyone as afraid as you to be associated with anything gay is a lover of the cock in denial.

    This is true, and parent should be modded UP, not down. Studies have shown that men who are most vocally and viscerally anti-gay or homophobic are exactly those who are struggling with same-sex attraction within themselves.

    People secure in their sexuality can go see this movie without freaking out about it (and in fact I saw tons of guys seeing this in the theatre with their girlfriends). Or they can watch an ad for the movie and not giggle or grimace. It's been hilarious watching some of the homophobes cringe or crack jokes to deal with their uncomfortableness with the topic. You just know they're afraid that if they see this movie, it'll unleash some sort of flood of feelings that they are terrified to deal with.

    Either that or they're just really immature. Whatever.

  • Re:Brokeback (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:32PM (#15053538) Homepage Journal
    "Homosexuality isn't "wrong", it just IS."

    Well, I guess it depends on your viewpoint on being 'gay'...I assume you think it is a natural thing...I tend to lean towards believing it is more a learned behavior and a choice, and I think the choice is a poor one. Most everyone I've ever known that was a gay man, seemed to be a product of some sort of horribly abusive childhood. I don't know that I've ever known or seen a homosexual person that was very well adjusted...and today, especially with young girls, being gay seems in vogue. So, when I talk about homosexuality, I think of it as bad behavior...much like you asked what I thought about murder, etc....that is all very bad behavior. However, doing the gay thing really doesn't hurt me...as I said before, what you want to do behind closed doors, really doesn't bother me. I just have no interest in seeing it.

    Again, disliking something, or having a negative opinion doesn't mean you have a phobia about it. It is just an opinion....and everyone is justified to have their own.

    I guess I'm responding to the same person here on this thread...if YOU are so proud of your gay opinions (or proud to be gay), then why are you posting anonymously? If it is so open and natural, they why not post as yourself?

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