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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"The getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be, um, smelly."
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April 04 2006

Movies now available for permanent download, including Serenity. Movielink, a movie download service owned by 5 movie studios, is now allowing American users to download movies to keep permanently instead of the previous (and still existing) temporary "rental" system.

Advantages: You can get it immediately. It plays on Windows Media Player, no other software required. You can play it on up to 3 computers and you can keep it forever.
Drawbacks: You can't burn it to DVD, you can't watch it on your TV, and the prices are similar to (or in some cases higher than) the DVD. And I'm not entirely sure you get the extras.
Anyway, Serenity's in there.

Site doesn't support Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape. Grr, argh!
Edit: weird, when I use IE6, it still says I need IE5 or higher. I don't think they've worked the bugs out of this.
Edit again: I need to work some bugs out of my brain. I pasted the Mozilla error url into IE instead of the original link. Works for me on IE6 now.

[ edited by jam2 on 2006-04-04 00:36 ]
And it's not available to users outside the USA.
Also, US only. Universal UK are launching their own online store next Wednesday without so many restrictions. Although way too expensive.
Playing it on 3 computers is not keeping it forever, unfortunately.
How exactly do they keep you from burning it to dvd?
Probably some type of DRM.

I like that Universal is forward thinking. But just like the music industry all this stuff will do is punish the people who legally purchase it, and make viewing their legally purchased media a pain in the neck. When someone who pirates the stuff, downloads it, has it forever in any format that they want.

So basically the options are - pay for it, and have all these artificial limitations put on you(artificial because anyone who really wants to can probably get around them), or pirate it and use it however you like.

I don't understand why they think annoying the people who are actually paying for their products is actually a good idea.
They can't completely prevent you from doing it. They can make it hard for the average user, however. Short answer: Digital Rights Management essentially encrypts a data file so that only an application that knows how to decrypt the file can make use of it. Your DVD burner is definitely not going to have the key to decrypt these files by default, whereas Windows Media does know how to decrypt the files, because the file is likely encrypted using Microsoft's DRM. Long answer: I am not clever enough for a longer answer. Wikipedia is a reasonable starting place for info on DRM.
Why would I want to pay more than it cost on DVD to only be able to watch it on my computer...when I can buy a DVD copy and watch it on my TV, my portable DVD player, AND my computer? Plus be able to bring it anywhere and play it on anyone's DVD player or computer. Now if it was legal to burn it to a DVD then I could see the price...as is, it's not worth it.
I read in some news article (forget which one, it was in either Yahoo or Google entertainment news highlights) that the studios are doing this to try to combat unlicensed downloads and pirating. I guess this is the first step of a process that will eventually lead to reasonable prices and more playback options.
I can see using this to get a movie more quickly than you can get a DVD. And you can play it on your laptop if you want to take it with you. And you can hook up your PC/laptop to your TV if you want (some people even have permanent Home Theater PC setups).

I mean it's not a perfect offering, but if it was available when Serenity came out on DVD, I might have gone for it (rather than wait for Amazon to ship it to me).

I'm also curious what the resolution is, how it compares to DVD.
There are tools out there that can convert video formats from one to another. I figure you could convert Window Media format to a format your dvd player can read and viola. I'm sure its not quite that simple, surely, but I bet there's a clever kid who'll have a crack out there folks to use in short order.
You are correct, killinj. That's one of the core arguments against DRM - it doesn't work to prevent pirates from pirating (arr!), while in the meantime, it irritates and restricts people who are willing to pay for content. Stupid.
Yet iTunes is very successful and people (including myself) love it. Maybe the movie thing will work once they bring the price down.

[ edited by jam2 on 2006-04-04 06:37 ]
Yes, jam2, although iTunes currently has far fewer restrictions on the files in terms of transfers and devices and such. One of the lurking menaces of iTunes, though, is that they can change the terms of service at their discretion, which they've already demonstrated they're willing to do; this is the equivalent of buying a perfectly good DVD, let's say, and then having your DVD manufacturer flip a switch that says, "Well, now you can only play it 5 more times on this machine". It's not something they're doing a lot of, but that's one of the charges people level against Apple.

But yes, the ability to grab a download of Lost the very split second I want to watch it is something I have definitely enjoyed. I think the price point is one problem, and should it be a subscription model for a body of content instead of a download model is something else the market is sorting out right now. Personally I'd happily pay a monthly fee to have streaming access to a nice catalog of movies and TV shows. That surely ain't Movielink, at least in its current incarnation.
It says you can connect the computer to the TV for TV-viewing. It might be possible to connect the computer to the TV THROUGH a recording device (like my DVR) and achieve a more desirable format. If I ever get DSL (which I'm pretty close to at this point), I may give it a shot.

But that's more work, and when you add in the cost of the movie, it may be prohibitive.
Scotto: "...it doesn't work to prevent pirates from pirating (arr!), while in the meantime, it irritates and restricts people who are willing to pay for content. Stupid."

If you outlaw piracy, only pirates will have outlaws... waitaminute.

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