More On Hollywood’s Crazy Download-To-Own Schemes

A couple weeks ago, we repoted that Universal Pictures was intending on selling its embarrassing remake of King Kong over the Internet to customers for the low, low price of thirty five dollars. “Jeezum Crow!” was the only properly incredulous reaction to the announcement. The price was absolutely ghastly for what was being offered — basically, one huge mpeg with none of the extras, packaging or company-expenses of DVDs that sell for half the price.

Well, now there’s more details on the industry initiative to offer downloadable movies to customers. Amongst the tasty new details is the news that not only will digital movies be much more expensive to purchase than DVDs, but you won’t be able to back them up to a DVD-R or send them to a portable media player. The software will be heavily DRMed (mark our words: expect another Sony-esque rootkit fiasco). Not only that, but are you a Mac user, or just like Firefox? You’re shit out of luck — you can only buy the movies through an IE only website.

We hate to say it, but we tend to agree with the conspiracy theorists on this one. Every detail the movie industry releases about legally-downloaded movies makes it seem like they are purposely sabotaging it so they can “prove” to themselves that digital distribution doesn’t work and continue to vilify as “prates” consumers who rip their own DVDs to other devices.

Legally Downloadable Movies Come With Heavy Restrictions [Consumer Affairs]

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  1. Andrew W says:

    This is like radio companies using their own failed business model to justify deregulation, which exacerbated the content problems caused by their bad business model, all while they should have been adjusting to compete again better content providers, like satellite radio and mp3 players.

    If Hollywood wants to eviscerate itself, so be it. I could go without more remakes of the In Laws, the Bad News Bears, not to mention King Kong.

  2. Danilo says:

    Completely agree on the sabotage. This is easily the most retarded execution you could ask for. More than double the price of a DVD? It makes no sense at all. There’s no multimedia authoring house to pay to make the menus, no special features editors, no shipping, no inventory management, no costs of mastering and mass-producing physical media…

    Do these clowns even know what the internet is? People are going to use the internet to pass around their crappy movies anyway. The movie industry has a very simple choice: They can get a piece of that action by making a compelling, inexpensive product that competes with the DVD format or they can make their digital product so onerous, undesirable and expensive that only an idiot would choose to buy internet-downloadable product instead of pirate it.

    And, it may well be they’re afraid of cannibalizing their precious DVD sales. It doesn’t matter, in any case. We’ll look back on this nonsense in ten years and laugh — the market will sort out this stupidity one way or another.

  3. droppedD says:

    calling it “download-to-own” in the article title is misleading. you don’t actually own anything – all you buy is a license where the movie distribution company is magnanimously allowing you limited watching rights to THEIR movie. “owning” implies you’d have fair use rights.

    imagine buying a book you can only read in one place (want to read it at home? then you can’t bring it to the beach!), or that you can’t lend to a friend, or that you can’t photocopy a page out of, and that requires you to show a license just to open it. Would you call that “owning” a book? And would you pay extra money for that “privilege?”

  4. Grady says:

    I don’t think it is sabotage. They really are that out-of-touch. The people who are making decisions here are elderly executives, remember. Never, in the history of the entertainment industry, have any of the business people ever asked, “What do consumers want?” The question they ask, and which has worked out very well for them over the past couple decades, is, “How do we get people to want what we have to sell?”

    There’s a theory in my line of work that says that new scientific theories don’t emerge as new information comes along, discrediting the old theories, but rather that new theories come along when the people who are propping up the old theories die off and aren’t there to defend them up any more.

    Quite simply, the old-school entertainment tycoons have to die off before the attitude of “making consumers want what you have” can turn into “having what consumers want”.

    The good news is that those tycoons who started this are all quite old.

  5. Rick Dobbs says:

    Dear Universal:

    If you guys need a better copy with more functionality, just let me know. I can get it off of a Newsgroup for you.

    Truly yours,

    –Rick

  6. GenXCub says:

    IE Tab extension on Firefox will let you get into IE-only sites (it works on windows update)

  7. Karmakin says:

    This isn’t just a RIAA or a MPAA thing however. It’s a business-wide thing. Businesses just have lost the knowledge of how to compete. Competition takes money. You have to take a short-term hit for the possibility of long-term greater profits. And that short-term hit might mean that the decision makers won’t get as big of a bonus.

    The problem really is Wall Street, and the glorious expectation of infinate profits.

  8. OkiMike says:

    What kind of fuckhead would write an IE-only website? I don’t know a design studio in the country that would call this “acceptable”. That they would do this shows that they must be in cahoots with Microsoft. Must be!

    There are too many people out there who are fucked-in-the-head. As a musician, I’m all for certain protections on my work, but I know that my work must be immediately available in various formats and that the MORE available I can make it be, the better my sales will be.