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Warner Bros. to Sell Movies Over BitTorrent 319

martinmarv writes "The BBC is reporting that Warner Bros. is to sell movies over BitTorrent. Disappointingly, the pricing is set to be about the same as the DVD, even though the download will only become available at the same time as the DVD release, and can only play on one machine. In distributing films via download, Warner will join the ranks of MovieLink and CinemaNow. Perhaps they should wait to see how their $1.50 experiment works out first?." From the article: "Other Hollywood studios are now likely to launch similar services. They believe movie fans will prefer to pay a reasonable price for a legal downloaded movie rather than risk illegally swapping a computer file that could contain viruses or be a poor quality copy of a film. "
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Warner Bros. to Sell Movies Over BitTorrent

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  • Good idea in Theory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kranfer ( 620510 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:10AM (#15292368) Homepage Journal
    I like the idea of being able to download DVDs legally from the studios directly. However, I would NEVER pay the same price as the normal DVD and only be able to play the movie on one machine. If I could burn it to DVD, and be able to enjoy it on my big screen LCD TV, this would be a service I would use as opposed to going to say Bestbuy or Walmart to purchase the DVD. I always thought that the Internet was supposed to supply convinence, not another thing that will cause me to NOT want to use the service because the movie could only be played on my computer. What is with that? I think the movies should be about $10 and be able to be burned once to a DVD Disc so that people can enjoy them elsewhere and not on a PC. Just my thoughts.
  • viruses and quality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:12AM (#15292375)
    I'm far more concerned about getting slapped with a lawsuit than I am about getting a virus or crappy quality when I download.
  • by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:17AM (#15292415)
    I don't work in the movie industry, but I'm willing to bet that pricing these at anything below current DVD prices won't increase revenue.

    I can't imagine that people who pirate movie represent a large portion of the buying public. They don't like paying and they know they don't have to. I don't think you will see a ton of pirates stopping that and purchasing downloads.

    Instead, I think you would see people who already buy DVD's buying these downloads. So, to cut the cost of the product would only take people who are already paying a high price for the product, and giving them a lower cost alternative.

    Studios make most of their money from DVD sales. It is in their interest to keep the price high. The cost of media and packaging isn't really that high. At least not high enough to justify a significant price break.
  • Bad advertising. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kneeslasher ( 878676 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:21AM (#15292439) Homepage
    "...rather than risk illegally swapping a computer file that could contain viruses or be a poor quality copy of a film."

    Er, I don't know which world divorced from reality the people who came up with this statement live in, but I've (or rather, a friend has) always found that movies downloaded from p2p tend never to contain viruses and are skillfully compressed to preserve good quality.

    Why do the content distributors always conflate their offerings? I am sure this pisses a lot of their potential customers off, most of whom would have the rudiments of knowledge on bitrates, DRM, etc. If they instead stated:

    "Released at the same time as the DVD (or cinema) release of the film, we offer you "Ice Age 2" as a H264/AAC file of size 1GB. We know the quality is crapper than a DVD and that it comes with DRM, is not a physical object and we are saving tons on the distribution thanks to all you altruistic BitTorrent uploaders. So have it at a tenth of the price of the DVD: $2.",

    then I'm sure instead of furiously downloading Ice.Age.2.XviD.DiEtY.1.of.2.avi (or whatever) as soon as the movie comes out, the producers may actually capture a slice of the market.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:30AM (#15292502)
    1. It costs the same as a DVD.

    Getting a DVD requires:
    1. Going to the DVD store (10-20 minutes and about a buck for gas)
    2. Looking for the DVD I want (5 minutes or 50, depends on whether you enjoy browsing)
    3. Grabbing the DVD and paying for it (5 minutes and whatever the thing costs).

    Getting the torrent:
    1. Going on their webpage, looking for the movie, going through the payment routine etc (15 minutes, a credit card and the amount of dough they want for it)
    2. Waiting for 10 hours to DL the thing (plus cost for bandwidth if you're not on a flat, which is quite rare here).

    So it takes longer, costs the same (with the difference that I'll need some kind of CC) to get something that I can ONLY play on the machine I DLed on, and if I should decide to kill said machine it's gone, and I can't watch it on the DVD player hooked to the large screen, no, I gotta watch it on the smaller PC screen without good sound and other gizmos...

    Again, WB, why should I buy it that way?

    Or is it just another attempt to "prove" that nobody would "buy stuff" over torrent and that torrent should be shut down 'cause it's only a pirate tool?
  • by toad3k ( 882007 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:30AM (#15292505)
    You'd think it would cost the same as a movie rental. About 3 bucks.
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:31AM (#15292514)
    Warner Brothers want *me* to pay *them* to download a DRM-enabled movie via BitTorrent.

    And presumably whilst I'm downloading that movie via BitTorrent, I am also using some of the bandwidth I *pay* to rent from my ISP to *upload* part of the same movie to *other* users who are downloading the movie but have *paid* Warner Brothers for the privelige.

    Okay, so maybe I'm missing something and there's a possible explanation for this:

    1. The author of the article has omitted to mention that Warner Brothers will pay me with cash or stock options as the result of my contributing my resources to their film distribution network.

    2. Warner Brothers are on mind-expanding drugs.

    3. I am on mind-expanding drugs.

    4. According to some ancient Incan calendar system, yesterday was March 31st making today April Fool's Day.

  • by Txiasaeia ( 581598 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:38AM (#15292569)
    I wonder if this is part of a legal strategy on Warner's part. They offer movie downloads at the same price as retail DVDs. Then, after a few months, they start to sue pirates who "illegally" download Warner films: "My client offered digital downloads, your honour, but the defendent continued to illegally download bootleg copies of Harry Potter 4. Since he had the choice to legally purchase and download this film, he should definitely be found guilty."
  • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:27AM (#15292942)
    Why would anyone pay almost as much for a drm'd file than a dvd?

    I can think of a few reasons (unfortunately Warner Bros does not appear to be implementing any of them):

    • The DRMed file is released before the DVD
    • The DRMed file is in a high resolution format
    • The cost of the download is refunded if you decide to buy the physical DVD
    • You get a rebate for seeding the file to others
    • The DRMed file contains additional content not available on DVD

    There's lots of things they could do to add value to the downloaded file (even with DRM) but the whole scheme seems to be set up with the intention to fail so they can say "we tried, but people just want to steal from us".

  • Re:Cost of bandwidth (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:32AM (#15292978)
    you have to pay for the vehicle and the gas to get to the store.

    But when go to the store to pick up milk does the store then say "here, bring all these things back as well."

    I personally refuse on the principle that I refuse to help anothe rliving thing unelss I am compensated, perhaps others have different ideas.

  • by dsgitl ( 922908 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#15293144)
    Yes, and you've identified the exact problems with this scheme. You'd benefit more from going out and buying the damn thing, while WB benefits more from you fronting their distribution costs. Incredible.

    I didn't read the article, but will these downloads work on my Mac? I'm guessing not, but WB might surprise me.
  • Re:But! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:26AM (#15293399)
    I don't think they do expect it to succeed. When their half-assed attempt at legal downloads fails they'll have more FUD to spread to lawmakers about evil downloading hurting their bottom line.

    I don't understand what is so special about movies and music. They are just data/software.

    People have been downloading and _paying_ for data/software for well over 10 years now, but the movie and music people can't seem to be able to do it.

    Trends I have noticed that apparently the people that are in the business have not.

    1) People tend to have more variety and quantity of media today than 10-20 years ago. Its normal for people to have 100-200 CDs worth of audio content today and to have between 20-50 DVDs. 20 years ago, 100-200 LPs were only for music freaks/diehards, and video was pretty much not collected before DVDs. I'm basing this on my experience and observations, I have no hard data behind this, but it seems to be accurate in my observations.

    2) Despite the increase in demand and basically an infinite supply, prices have not dropped. In my eye, if DVDs were shipped at $5/movie they would not be able to keep them on the shelves. However, movies are slightly different because their old primary cash cow was the big screen/box office takes. Its a little tough for me to speculate here about how to balance those markets because I really don't participate in the big screen version, nor was I ever much of a box office guy, so I don't know that market. However, music in my opinion and all of the people I have met online and in person is too expensive for what it is. I mean, even downloads of live concerts are about 1/2 or 1/3 of the cost to see the real thing.

    3) Quality is dropping, yet for some reason demand is still high. I don't know if this is just a normal perception as one gets in his mid 30s or if this is a real trend or not, but it seems to be a common consensus that quality is not there as it once was. To me, rock music peaked in the 70s and the 60s-70s era bands were still strong in the 80s with a more polished and professional approach. There was a slight resurgence in the early 90s, but things are tapering off from there. Personally, I've been disappointed in most movies all of my life. There are anomalies, but for 1.5 to 3 hours of one piece of material, you have to keep people interested with solid character development and character constancy and, duh, the thing needs a plot too.

    I simply do not understand why these markets have such a reluctance to give people what they want and stick with the times. Audio formats used to change fairly frequently, but that has stopped. 78s, LPs, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs -- MP3s are still almost a black market item even though people want them. Movies were pretty much inaccessible in people's homes (and cars I guess now) before the 70s and 80s with the video tapes. Then DVDs came out, and people really liked the form factor, pause and skipping abilities, no rewinding, better quality, extra features, etc. But it looks like the movie studio's media diversity has stopped in favor of media that is unwatchable because of DRM or whatever restrictions for making the media play.

    What I see happening, are lower production quality, more grass roots music and video that is shared over the internet, and the big movie/music studios are sitting on the sidelines with their dicks in their hands.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend