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Why There's No iTunes For Movies

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the farhad-tells-all dept.

Movies 474

theodp writes "Slate's Farhad Manjoo would gladly pay a hefty monthly fee for immediate access to recent movies and TV shows — if someone would just take his money. In reality, he pays nothing because no company sells such a plan, and instead resorts to getting his programming from the friendly BitTorrent network.

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Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (5, Informative)

Richmeister (1188909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635473)

It's under 'Movies' in the iTunes Store.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (5, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635483)

It's under 'Movies' in the iTunes Store.

Well but the problem is... it's iTunes. I don't buy Hard- or Software from Apple. Why should I buy my movies from them. Completely neglecting the fact I can't even install their shitty software -of course.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Interesting)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635501)

Why do you boycott Apple?

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (3, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635829)

Mods on crack, asking him why he doesn't like something is not flamebait.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635855)

I tend to boycott Apple MP3 players mainly because of their proprietary formats and hardware lock-in. I's like a device I can just drop files on and play, without installing some bloated management software. There's people worse than me as well. I have a friend who was car shopping and rejected one car because it had an iPod connector. Having a custom connector is not even that bad if it can be used free by others, but the iPod connector is definitely not like that. I've recently removed QuickTime from my remaining Windows box because of their pushy update strategy.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635881)

I tend to boycott Apple MP3 players mainly because of their proprietary formats and hardware lock-in. I's like a device I can just drop files on and play, without installing some bloated management software.

In fact, you can do that. Plug the ipod into a PC without itunes and it appears to be a usb drive.

There's people worse than me as well. I have a friend who was car shopping and rejected one car because it had an iPod connector.

Well, your friend is going to have a hard time buying a car. Just about all of them have radios with ipod connectors (unless you buy a cheap shitbox vehicle). On the other hand, just buy an aftermarket radio, rip out the stock radio, and sell it on ebay.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (3, Interesting)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635947)

I tend to boycott Apple MP3 players mainly because of their proprietary formats and hardware lock-in................

Funny thing is that apples audio formats have to be the easiest to convert to another format . I find putting everything in mp3 works well as itunes drops and plays mp3 files.

apple's hardware is also in my experience very easy to circumvent , its almost as if apple is "just going through the motions."

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Informative)

Jezza (39441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635993)

AAC? My new Nintendo plays that! You don't need iTunes (as others have commented on) but for me at least it's a nice "one stop shop" for media files. As for "hardware lock-in" well there are plenty of after market widgets for iPod; I don't need to get my charger from Apple, I can buy speakers from almost anyone, most iPods work with any headphones (even the new Shuffle if you have a widget to replicate the control buttons).

I see no more "lock-in" than any other popular make of "MP3 Player".

Now the studios are letting Apple remove their DRM I can even convert iTunes bought Music to another format.

On the subject of the "Shuffle" it's not like I'm going to be trapped by my purchase - if I decide I want to use something else in the future I can just convert the music and bin the player (it's cheap enough).

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636037)

I tend to boycott Apple MP3 players mainly because of their proprietary formats and hardware lock-in. I's like a device I can just drop files on and play, without installing some bloated management software. There's people worse than me as well. I have a friend who was car shopping and rejected one car because it had an iPod connector. Having a custom connector is not even that bad if it can be used free by others, but the iPod connector is definitely not like that. I've recently removed QuickTime from my remaining Windows box because of their pushy update strategy.

You do understand that you can use iPods (as well as many other players) without having to use their proprietary formats, right? iPod will play the standard format MP3s as well its apparent successor, AAC. As for hardware lock-in, you get that with any MP3 player. Wanna use your Sansa case with an iRiver? Nope. Not going to fit. As for managing music goes, I once had a device where I had to drop and drag. Here's the problem with that: It got extremely cumbersome after a dozen songs. You may think you want "control" but when you have to manage 10,000 songs manually, it's a pain.

As for your friend, I think it's rather short-sighted to reject a car worth tens of thousands of dollars because it has an optional feature he didn't want that could be replaced for hundreds of dollars or better yet, simply just not used.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (3, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635701)

Sounds like a bug with the user.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635805)

I must have missed that 'iTunes for Linux' release announcement...

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (2, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635823)

for Linux, how about on OpenBSD for SPARC?

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635873)

It is not Apple's fault that you choose to run an operating system which is not compatible with the most widespread executable and library formats on the planet.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (3, Insightful)

Ashriel (1457949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635945)

Actually, it is precisely Apple's fault. If they didn't make their formats proprietary, then the choice of operating system would not make a difference.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635977)

The iTunes formats aren't proprietary. That's a myth. The only truly proprietary format for music is Windows Media. The rest are all open standards, which is what Apple uses.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27636049)

In what way is MPEG-4 or AAC Audio proprietary? Their delivery vehicle is proprietary, their data is not.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (2, Informative)

Jezza (39441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636069)

What about Songbird - looks pretty good? Then you can use an iPod with Linux, probably that a "better" solution than iTunes for Linux (which I'm sure wouldn't be acceptable for a large number of Linux users anyway - being "closed source").

Honestly, is it only me that thinks: "meh" - I mean I put up with a lot worse to get the damn GPU to run under Linux (binary drivers). I'm not sure a music player is worth getting your panties in a bunch over (perhaps I'd feel differently if I were a pro musician, or even an amateur musician)!

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635833)

Well but the problem is... it's iTunes.

While iTunes might not be something you want to use, it was the topic of the article.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (0, Offtopic)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636093)

Wtf is that Konami code variation in your signature? Just random crap or did it do something in some game?

Or well, google answers:
Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
Platform: NES
Function: When done during the startup screen, gives you 10 lives and level select.

Weird =P

Oh well, at least I learned something from this useless thread ;D

Personally I buy my movies on disc and download them for free, I have no need to be able to pay for downloads =P

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (2)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635907)

Itunes is available for windows.

Installing apples "shitty software" is very simple and free.

Download and click install it then upgrades itself to latest version.

The nice part about itunes is it contains a search built-in for movies and tv episodes. Every things "there for you on a plate" and you can subscribe to tv episodes.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635979)

Itunes is available for windows.

Is it also available for Wine?

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636087)

I don't buy Hard- or Software from Apple.

iTunes and Quicktime software is free for Windows and OS X. I think you mean to say that it is not available for Linux.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (2, Insightful)

forgoil (104808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635521)

There is one problem with it, and it is not the fault of Apple. Since the distribution rights are owned by a silly amount of silly people in a silly amount of different countries, those countries won't get movies distributed in iTunes.

Apparently they see some magic gain in *not* making their product available in *preferred* distribution channels. Basically they are assholes twice over. First to their customers (us), and then to their shareholders (why aren't we making money? Oh, because the distributers are assholes who don't want to *sell* our products).

Set the distribution rights free, drop DRM, and make the products available in the preferred way (internet, and no, that do *NOT* mean through some crap IE webbrowser crap solution with sub par quality), yadda, yadda, yadda. Most of you guys on slashdot gets this.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635613)

That's a logical solution, though factor in greed and you have 'not in my lifetime'

Next in line to cash in will be the ISP's and backbone providers. (Indeed, they are trying already) They'll claim that each and every single bit actually costs them money to send over the glass, even though they are making a metric crap ton of cash above and beyond the cost to maintain and keep the infrastructure running and in good working order. Paying the electricity bill isn't exactly a struggle for them.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636039)

metric crap ton

That's metric crap tonne. Interestingly enough, this weighs precisely the same as a metric My Little Pony tonne.

It Ain't Philosophy, It's The Business Model (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635731)

Apparently they see some magic gain in *not* making their product available in *preferred* distribution channels.

It's not magic, it's real money. Follow the entertainment trades like "Variety" and you will see that the studios are selling nice lump-sum deals for some movies into broadcast and cable distribution windows even before they hit the theaters. The domestic and foreign TV distribution channels are not going to pay this big money if the movie is widely distributed in one form or another prior to their contracted window of distribution. The studio *must* restrict online distribution -- or at least make a big show that it is trying to. It's part of their contractual obligations.

When a studio gets confident that the money it can make via "easy early global online" distribution will be enough to off-set the reduced fees it can charge its "old school" distribution partners, believe me, they'll pull the trigger on it. But the old school guys pay big bucks, and, currently, the new skool online direct-to-consumer model is, literally, pennies.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635875)

internet, and no, that do *NOT* mean through some crap IE webbrowser crap solution with sub par quality

It also doesn't mean iTunes. Sorry, iTunes may be great software, but it is not the web, and not everyone has or wants iTunes.

DRM is only part of the problem, and getting rid of it is a great step forward. Now let's see this the rest of the way -- just the Internet, or at most email -- better yet, publish that website as a REST API to allow anyone to develop an iTunes-like client.

HTML and FLAC over HTTP for the win.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1)

VulpesFoxnik (1493687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636065)

1 issue: E-mail has a 10MiBi Limit. So this E-Mail you speak of cannot be used.

Lets look at the current means of distribution.

You can A:
Bittorrent it, but there's not much profit in that at the moment.
You can take the Itunes method, the major node of servers, and end up with a sub par'd drm'd copy.
Lastly you can take the streaming approach. Netflicks does this through everyone's favorite program: Sliverlight 2.0. That limits to Windows only machines... maybe mac... honestly I don't give a flying -expletive deleted- about mac. The other streaming methods such as RTMP and MMS are commonly used for free software, and require a web browser to work, but can restrict access by asking a user for a password guarded via front door such as many hentai/porn sites do, mind you these also allow for stream ripping fairly easy. However I think it's perfectly fair for a user to cache the entire movie this way, it does pose some issues with dishonest users.

Flac isn't exactly designed for streaming last time I checked, however it is also my preferred audio format as well.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Informative)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635533)

Technically, you're right. But it doesn't work like iTunes - it has a very limited range of movies on offer and the prices are often not at all competitive. If you're outside the US, the range of stuff on offer is even worse, and the prices are much more prohibitive. So although it runs out of the iTunes store, it's very far from being an iTunes for movies in anything but name.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (4, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635553)

If you would RTFA (or had actually used iTunes movies), you would know about the very limited selection and restrictions on use from iTunes (and other 'services') due to the Byzantine industry contracts.

It sounds like a hopeless situation and it looks like the best option is to use the ubiquitous peer to peer sources which offer free convenient downloads of just about anything you could want.

Marketing 101 (4, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635895)

My ISP offers a movie service, BUT you have to install a proprietary player to play the movie on.

I'm a customer, I want the option of having the product as a .avi but the service is not giving me the service I want and am willing to pay for.

So I use The Pirate Bay, money has nothing to do with my decision Movies cost nothing anyway even on DVDs it's all about the service. The Pirate Bay simply provides a better service than the studios can so they get all my downloads.

Considering how big the market for movies is that must be a fair bit of money they are missing out on, all because they want people to use a certain piece of software.

AVI codecs are patented too (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636011)

My ISP offers a movie service, BUT you have to install a proprietary player to play the movie on.

I'm a customer, I want the option of having the product as a .avi

In what codec? The United States is home to Slashdot, the major motion picture studios, and two-thirds of native English speakers in the developed world. But in the United States, most codecs used in AVI files are subject to several patents. For example, the codecs commonly used in DivX .avi files are MPEG-4 Part 2 video (patented) and MPEG-1 layer 3 audio (also patented). So the software needed to play .avi files is just as non-free as your ISP's player.

Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635937)

You cannot TEND to boycott something.

Slashdot education (5, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635477)

In school, we had a trademark infringement lawyer come speak to us during computer science telling us how bad it was to illegally download music movies and such. But now as I read this, since there is no where to buy these movies piracy seems like the only option.

I'm glad Slashdot is here to educate me.

Re:Slashdot education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635669)

Funny thing, is that it is NOT illegal to download movies. It is illegal to rip them, though it appears that no lawsuits over ppl ripping PERSONAL movies for PERSONAL use. It is also illegal to UPLOAD them to ppl that you do not know. What bothers me is when Lawyers and others say that it is illegal to DOWNLOAD them. Dead wrong.

Depends on your juristdiction (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636097)

YMMV. Widely. Depends on where you are.

This includes many things besides downloading, including spitting on the ground [state.gov] .

Re:Slashdot education (4, Interesting)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635727)

A trademark infringement lawyer? Why not a divorce lawyer? That would have been funnier.

Re:Slashdot education (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635749)

The possibilities are endless. Piracy is not the only option. For example, not listening/watching "music movies and such" is an option.

Re:Slashdot education (2, Insightful)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635959)

It's not a very fun option. And it's just as beneficial to the movie/music companies as piracy is.

It's evolution baby... (0, Offtopic)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635481)

Do the Evolution :O

Miro (1)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635485)

Miro http://www.getmiro.com/ [getmiro.com] goes quite a way to make streaming media and video torrents an enjoyable experience. It is sort of the iTunes (without store) for video.

Re:Miro (1, Interesting)

bursch-X (458146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635737)

It's more like an iTunes Store for Movies without the store and the movies. It's basically a souped up Firefox (XUL) customised to be used for audio and video podcasts. Your point? None. My point? None either, just wanted to mention that Miro brings nothing, nada, zilch to the table here.

Segmentation (5, Interesting)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635499)

As I wrote several times before about TV shows, game releases and cinema starts this is all about segmentation. Putting up an international one-price-for-all platform for movie purchases would undermine the local market branches the industry has elaborately established over the past decades. You can charge different prices for movies in the EU, Asia, US and so forth. The differences make for additional profit. They would never give that up voluntarily.

Itunes pricing is already segmented. (3, Informative)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635567)

Itunes pricing is already segmented. Amazon's digital offering is region locked. As are all the other players.

I'm not sure your point holds.

Re:Segmentation (4, Informative)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635771)

They aren't making much money from the Philippines then. The most expensive movie you can see here is around $10 USD, and that's for a world wide hyped movie on opening night at the posh end of town. On average it's about $4 in a good cinema. They are competing against piracy though, a single pirated movie is about $1, $2 will get you a disc containing anywhere up to 32 movies. 12 is about average though, any more than that and the compression makes them look worse than the phone cam in the cinema kind. Now an original movie purchased from a store in shrink wrap with hologram stickers, that'll set you back 1 to 2 bucks as well. They are well and truly in competition with the pirates now. Arrrrr. Most people can't be arsed to go to the mall and buy the originals though. Pirated stuff lives closer to home, and it has the adverts stripped out.

So aside from geographic IP mapping which is trivially defeated with proxies, or charging a single price for world wide distribution, people are just going to flock to the cheapest and most convenient source. I figure if they can still turn a profit at 2 bucks for an original movie on DVD, they aren't hurting so bad after all.

Re:Segmentation (5, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635783)

It's not so much the different price that's annoying. It's not having the chance to watch some things because of where you live. I can't see how giving everyone the chance to buy something that doesn't exist in their country is a bad thing.

We need to put an end to regional distribution deals for the internet. The internet should, in fact, be considered it's own region and that would allow them to get around existing distribution deals.

Devil's advocate (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636055)

It's not so much the different price that's annoying. It's not having the chance to watch some things because of where you live.

"If it's that important to you, emigrate." -- Movie studio exec, speaking on condition of anonymity

False right (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635507)

So basically Manjoo is saying that copyright holders are obligated to make their works available to him in the format and timing he demands, or else he has the right to get them illegally?

I think we call can agree that current copyright is unreasonable and undemocratic (since it was bought for by the music/movie industry). But Manjoo's reasoning doesn't make a ton of sense either.

Re:False right (5, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635523)

Perhaps he doesn't have the right, but the MPAA shouldn't act so surprised when people do it.

Re:False right (5, Insightful)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635541)

So basically Manjoo is saying that copyright holders are obligated to make their works available to him in the format and timing he demands, or else he has the right to get them illegally?

No, he calls himself a scofflaw. He's saying that there's a market for works in the format and timing that the customer chooses. Currently it's a black market, and the studios are going to lose a ton of money because they don't offer a legal alternative.

Re:False right (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635545)

So basically Manjoo is saying that copyright holders are obligated to make their works available to him in the format and timing he demands, or else he has the right to get them illegally?

A customer expecting the seller to sell him what he wants in order to get his money? Why, the very idea!

Re:False right (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635549)

If they aren't selling it, they they are losing nothing when we pirate it. This in turn means that there is no damage to them, and thus no case against us.

If they are selling it, but there are artificial barriers caused by legal restrictions on over-riding region coding and the like, then this could be argued to be an illegal restriction on free trade under WTO rules, although we all know that no-one with the money to fight such a case ever would.

What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635681)

WTO rules about free trade have nothing at all to do with telling producers how they must sell their products internationally. Free trade refers to making sure that GOVERNMENTS don't set protectionist or xenophobic rules about the sale of foreign goods in their respective countries. Rules about region locking 1) Aren't passed by governments trying to keep foreign goods OUT and 2) Aren't enforceable in countries -receiving- goods unless they agree to those rules, and WTO is quite fine with all of that.

Re:False right (1)

Philip Shaw (1337925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635705)

If they aren't selling it, they they are losing nothing when we pirate it. This in turn means that there is no damage to them, and thus no case against us.

Also, I think very few people would argue that it is immoral to videotape something off the TV and keep it indefinitely (although this is not usually legal, an overwhelming majority of people do it). As I pay no blank-media levy, (unlike in Canada etcetera), and have never completed a ratings survey, it makes no difference to the copyright holders if I record off the TV or download off the internet (I do not have a HDTV, so that argument is moot, and I always fast forward through the ads on videos). Thus, if you accept videotaping of TV content, it is nonsensical to argue that downloading the same content is not acceptable simply because you accessed it differently.

If they are selling it, but there are artificial barriers caused by legal restrictions on over-riding region coding and the like, then this could be argued to be an illegal restriction on free trade under WTO rules, although we all know that no-one with the money to fight such a case ever would.

This doesn't quite ring true, but it is irrelevant to my point above, so I'll ignore it.

Re:False right (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636043)

Are you speculating that keeping a VHS recording is illegal, or is there some precedent or whatever that has been set?

Re:False right (1)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635551)

I agree with you, but I think there's an important point to be made about this, which Manjoo also hinted at. If the studios and so on don't start changing their business model to tap in to the internet market and clean up obsolete restrictions (like 24 hrs to watch), people will get the movies illegally. Some people will get them illegally anyway, but a decent, legal service would be a big draw and would remove the kind of argument that says "well, they don't want to provide me with their stuff legally, so I may as well get it illegally".

Re:False right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635573)

No, He's saying that copyright holders are wise to offer him their works to him in such a way that he'll buy it, otherwise he'll screw them over because consumers rule in a consumer driven market.

If movies where like say computers, then this behavior from a production company would lead to someone comming along and giving the consumers what they wanted and stealing the market. But since movies aren't interchangable, and noone wants to watch Wall-Y a cheep nock-off of Wall-E, the consumers speak through pirating instead.

It's a free market, and the industry is given enormes power, but when they use it to screw consumers, consumers screw them.

Re:False right (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635625)

Well, you cant buy it for any price. So you Bittorrent it.

And if prices are stupid, like a soundtrack going for 17.99 vs the movie itself going for 15.99, guess what? Piratebay here we come.

It's called competitive pressure, and that's how the free market works. If copyright and patents were more sane, they'd be more respected and crap like this wouldnt happen. So, the path of least resistance is downloading.

Those who call me names: I dont care. I have what you spend money on and mine isnt crippled.

Those who say I need to change the law: Fine. Give me a few million to shove in the congresscritters pockets. Then, they MIGHT listen.. Then again, maybe not.

Any price? How about a hostile takeover? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636095)

Well, you cant buy it for any price.

Yes you can. Many of the movie studios are publicly traded companies. Buy half the company's outstanding stock for several billion dollars, and not only do you own the copy, you own the copyright. But some movie studios have tried to make themselves hostile-takeover-proof by joining conglomerates, such as General Electric's purchase of Universal City Studios from Vivendi.

Re:False right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635717)

If they have decided not to make it available, then I guess they don't want to make money on it, therefore there is no lost sale when it is "pirated". No harm done.

Re:False right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635719)

He isn't saying he has the RIGHT to get them illegally.

Just that he WILL get them illegally.

And for companies interested in doing business - "right" is not important - it is what your customers will tolerate, and pay for, that matters.

Remember, when you are talking about "rights" that copyright (and patent, trademark, etc...) is a right conferred because it is in the public good. It is a profoundly "conditional" right. And when that conferral ceases to be in the public good - as - arguably, it is has now - it should be withdrawn.

I am with him - I would cheerfully pay $40 - or more - for the convenience to just be able to download stuff I want to watch. A lot of the stuff I want to watch is old - and hence cheap. Like him, I don't have that much time to watch stuff.

  So $40 to $50 'aint that unreasonable for what I would actually consume.

I DO want to pay - but for a decent service. But make no mistake, if it isn't provided, I will take what I want - with mild regret - but for free.

You know - someone should set up a charity. It would do decent things in Africa. (Or New Orleans. Whichever is the poorer.) People like me would pay $40/month to it - just to show that we are willing to PAY for what we bittorrent.

  I reckon there are at least a couple of 1000 people like me - willing to make a point to the studios.

Now there isn't such a service. So let's cut it to $20

  12 x 20 X 2000 is half a million dollars a year almost.

Is anyone up for this?

  That could do some good somewhere.... And show the studios that there really IS a revenue stream for them.

Re:False right (2, Interesting)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635735)

[repost - I forgot I wasn't logged in the first time....]

He isn't saying he has the RIGHT to get them illegally.

Just that he WILL get them illegally.

And for companies interested in doing business - "right" is not important - it is what your customers will tolerate, and pay for, that matters.

Remember, when you are talking about "rights" that copyright (and patent, trademark, etc...) is a right conferred because it is in the public good. It is a profoundly "conditional" right. And when that conferral ceases to be in the public good - as - arguably, it is has now - it should be withdrawn.

I am with him - I would cheerfully pay $40 - or more - for the convenience to just be able to download stuff I want to watch. A lot of the stuff I want to watch is old - and hence cheap. Like him, I don't have that much time to watch stuff.

    So $40 to $50 'aint that unreasonable for what I would actually consume.

I DO want to pay - but for a decent service. But make no mistake, if it isn't provided, I will take what I want - with mild regret - but for free.

You know - someone should set up a charity. It would do decent things in Africa. (Or New Orleans. Whichever is the poorer.) People like me would pay $40/month to it - just to show that we are willing to PAY for what we bittorrent.

    I reckon there are at least a couple of 1000 people like me - willing to make a point to the studios.

Now there isn't such a service. So let's cut it to $20

    12 x 20 X 2000 is half a million dollars a year almost.

Is anyone up for this?

    That could do some good somewhere.... And show the studios that there really IS a revenue stream.

Re:False right (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635849)

So basically Manjoo is saying that copyright holders are obligated to make their works available to him in the format and timing he demands, or else he has the right to get them illegally?

I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. Copyright is a bargain between society and the creator, where the creator gets a time-limited monopoly in exchange for distributing their work. If they are not making a bona fide effort to distribute their work, then should they be able to retain copyright? I don't believe that they should, and I think that compulsory, nondiscriminatory, licensing should be a requirement for being granted copyright. That said, I disagree with his conclusion. He should be arguing for a reform in copyright laws, not simply disregarding them because they are inconvenient. Bad laws should be repealed or amended, not ignored. Society can not function if everyone picks their favourite subset of laws to obey.

Re:False right (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635915)

However the bad laws are not going to be repealed or amended no matter how much people complain because vested interests will not allow it. Therefore the only alternative is a mass campaign of civil disobedience.

Re:False right (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635925)

But Manjoo's reasoning doesn't make a ton of sense either.

What about it doesn't make sense? If copyright doesn't serve society, then it should be abolished. The only kind of works it seems to promote are mass market bullshit. I don't give a fuck about protecting or promoting those. True art needs to be made. And finally, anyone who releases any media without a license saying that it enters copyright when copyright originally expired is taking advantage of bad laws, and doesn't deserve copyright protection — but that appears to just be my opinion. There is no right to profit, and the ability to do a thing has never in itself been sufficient justification to do the thing.

Re:False right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635957)

So basically Manjoo is saying that copyright holders are obligated to make their works available to him in the format and timing he demands, or else he has the right to get them illegally?

Well, in my country (Canada), you can not legally get HBO at any price. There is a bastardized version called "HBO Canada" which is a POS.

So, some Canadians drive down to the US, buy a US satellite dish, and bring it back. While this is illegal in Canada, I feel no moral or ethical guilt.

The reason isn't difficult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635509)

Songs are usually a few Mb.

Movies are usually several hundred Mb, if not reaching into Gb depending on quality.

The author of that article himself admits he just watches stuff from online because he just recently got a high speed internet connection.

The connection needed to download a movie in a reasonable amount of time is not the same as what's needed for music, and then there is the question of download caps and fees.

The reason why there is iTunes and not iMovies is because movies are a totally different kettle of fish when it comes to obtaining them, and I guess nobody has decided it's quite financially viable yet.

Give it time. Maybe when we're all on properly-unlimited 100Mb/s connections.

Re:The reason isn't difficult. (0, Redundant)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635599)

iTunes for movies exists, and solves the problems you're pointing out. All you need do is make the data-rate of the movie lower than the average internet connection (not hard, movies typically are encoded at around 1.5Mb/s for SD), and stream it to them. They can start playing after a few minutes, while the movie is still busy streaming in the background.

The reason iTunes for Movies hasn't taken off is more to do with the lack of selection, and prices that are higher than plain o'l DVDs.

Money, again (5, Insightful)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635511)

Interesting article. It seems that the studios etc. are wary of losing the guaranteed revenue that comes from the premium and pay-per-view TV channels. But what happens when these channels wise up to the fact that an increasing number of people are getting these films for free online? Will they become more reluctant to pay the studios for the right to show a movie that everyone's already seen via bittorrent?

Does anyone have any figures on how pay-per-view services are doing? I wouldn't be surprised to see that the number of people paying for the Hollywood blockbusters is on a downward trend as broadband speeds increase.

Re:Money, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635555)

That would be interesting, because I suspect that the number or paying customers will increase as broadband speeds improve. It's only when download speeds are significantly shorter that iTunes for movies can really take off.

Re:Money, again (1)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635693)

Yeah, I guess that's probably true, too. But in the situation that the article is talking about - where there are few legal ways of getting movies via the internet - all the studios would likely see would be a decrease in pay-per-view and DVD sales. Until they rework the system and come up with a good download service that actually offers what customers want, rather than a tiny selection of movies for a limited time, they're going to find it hard to compete with the torrents which offer pretty much everything for free download. iTunes for movies would benefit from shorter downloads, but until it can actually offer the content that customers want it's effectively hamstrung.

Yip (5, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635529)

The only thing I pirate are episodes of a TV series, it only started showing here about a month ago (5 months after it started showing in the US). At the end of the first series I bought the DVDs of the season, and I intend to do the same for the second. I've tried to find a legit way to watch it, mainly because I would like to contribute towards the ratings of the series. I've tried watching it through NBC's website, Amazon, Hulu, and many other websites but no one will offer it to viewers outside of the US.

I'm a fan of the show, I want to watch it legitimately and if I could I would pay to do so.

It just goes to show how far behind with the times the entire industry is that people *want* to pay them and can't, so they break the law instead.

Re:Yip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635595)

Sitting on previously broadcasted content should speed up its copyright expiration. Revlon would not just stop selling a popular makeup brand, so how come content providers will do that?

Re:Yip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635667)

Nice point.. But you are one in a million

Re:Yip (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635887)

Not really. I do the same thing, and I know plenty of others who do. In Australia, we're lucky to get some series half a year or more after they start airing in the US, and even then there are heaps of hiatuses and breaks.
IIRC, this approach is also especially common among fans of anime, since western channels don't usually air it until a dub is produced and many hardcore fans would rather watch an original subbed version than a dub.

Re:Yip (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635863)

The only thing I pirate are episodes of a TV series, it only started showing here about a month ago (5 months after it started showing in the US).

What those involved don't appear to understand is that this kind of "staggered release" actually encourages piracy.

At the end of the first series I bought the DVDs of the season, and I intend to do the same for the second. I've tried to find a legit way to watch it, mainly because I would like to contribute towards the ratings of the series.

The way ratings are typically gathered you'd need to be in the right place for starters. Anyway the primary purpose of ratings in commercial television is to set rates for ads. However advertisers don't care much about viewers who couldn't actually buy what they are advertising.

I've tried watching it through NBC's website, Amazon, Hulu, and many other websites but no one will offer it to viewers outside of the US.

Though you could watch the broadcasts in parts of Canada, Mexico and possibly Russia.

Re:Yip (1)

HighFalutinCoder (1536035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636101)

Actually, no matter how you watch those shows, you will not affect their ratings. Nielsen Sigma, the company that collects and distributes ratings data, uses special hardware to gather ratings information. This hardware is installed into the homes of carefully selected viewers and allows Nielsen to keep track, not only of what is being watched, but who is watching it. Nielsen ratings are broken up by demographics based on a number of factors including age and gender, so they try to make their sample set of viewers representative of the actual population.

I know that's how it worked years back. They might not use hardware anymore, maybe it's software based now, but Nielsen definitely doesn't monitor every person in the world that watches TV. Also, I don't think they gather ratings data for outside of the US (I could be wrong on that one).

Re:Yip (1)

VulpesFoxnik (1493687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636107)

I think a TV tuner in your linux box is a perfectly legitimate means to watch your shows.

Although even mine has fallen in disuse over torrents. I've never actually got mythtv to work properly on my debian machine.

Maybe I'm just an idiot.

Here's the answer.... (5, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635629)

The answer is twofold. First, the vast majority of people will not pay a hefty monthly fee for immediate access to recent movies and TV shows. So there really is not market for it. You cannot compete with free by putting a "hefty" fee on it. God, that's fricken ludicrous. Why is this completely asinine idea even posted here?!

Second, the movie industry makes a lot of money with its gated approach to releasing movies. First, to theaters. Then to premium TV channels and pay-per-view. Then to DVD/Blue-ray. Than the normal TV. If the studios started releasing new movies as soon as they were released in they theaters, or even soon after, the money from the premium TV/pay-per-view/DVD/Blu-ray releases would drastically decrease. It's all about making the Benjamins, not about making it convenient for the viewer.

Re:Here's the answer.... (0, Offtopic)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635671)

Tell that to the vinyl record industry.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635753)

"Tell that to the vinyl record industry."

Tell what to the vinyl record industry? That it's a tiny niche market because only a minuscule percentage of people buy vinyl compared to other forms of access? Heck, I bet you don't know this, but profits from the ringtone market totally dwarfs the mighty iTunes. And vinyl is a mere drop in the bucket compared to iTunes.

And why are you comparing quicker access to movies and TV versus a higher fidelity sound recording? People want LPs for a completely different reason than theodp wants movies and TV. He's not willing to pay more for higher quality. In fact, it appears he wants to pay more for lower quality. He doesn't want to wait for the Blu-ray release, as a vinyl lover would wait for vinyl, he wants a crappy and immediate internet release. That's exactly the opposite of what the vinyl market is all about. God, you couldn't make an accurate analogy, on the most analogous day of your life, with an electrified analogy machine!

Re:Here's the answer.... (0)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635809)

The tiered approach was how vinyl was handled for years, with singles, 45's and 33's, casettes, 8-tracks, nothing could knock the mightly LP off of it's perch. The vinyl disk fabricators got lazy, the production quality of the disks suffered with inherent scratches, even unplayable disks becoming all too common. Into this market comes the CD, with it's lossless playback, far more portable nature. The companies that produced the vinyl sat on their laurels, and lost out. Not talking the record companies, but the actual vinyl disk manufacturers, which they oftentimes had subcontracted the work out to. The record companies saw the potential of CD's, and grabbed at them, while the vinyl disk vendors continued to focus on their platters in many cases. The vinyl companies misjudged their customer base, the record companies and consumers, and as a result became the specialty vendors they are today, far smaller. The movie companies, never forget, are a middleman, delivering us content produced by the Production Houses. Only a matter of time before the Production Houses eliminate the middleman, and then the distributors that only focus on the traditional model will be the ones left out in the cold, I fear. They need to adapt, or will find themselves in the same boat.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635869)

You have no idea what you're talking about. I agree that the quality of vinyl decreased. However, that was an intentional decision by the music industry to get us over to the CD. I worked at a music store back in the 80s to early 90s. The LP didn't die off, it was murdered.

And I have no idea what you're talking about a tiered approach to music. Other than releasing a single to radio, or releasing a single early to whet listener's appetite, all music was and is released for sale at the same time. Movies are released in tiers because each tier represents a valuable independent market that depends at least partially on the delay. That simply doesn't happen in music. Sure there are CD, iTunes, Amazon, ringtone markets. But there's no financial reason to delay any of them as there are in the movie industry.

Once again, you're talking about two completely different things. Stick to the topic, not about something completely unrelated.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635941)

There isn't a tier anymore, but at one time there was. Bands did shows with new songs, then the radio stations got "the drop" weeks if not months before the single was released, and the album came out weeks after that. That ended awhile ago, and for the improvement in the complete market I feel.

You have never listened to vinyl have you? (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636113)

I remember vinyl, its was only good for the first say 10 plays and then you would get a scratch or a bit of dust and then you get pops and crackly sounds.

its the reason Vinyl had dust covers - usually two a cardboard/paper cover and a plastic cover.

Now matter what you did the records always got scratches.

the noise was dreadful I was stunned at the sound quality of cd's when they came out I could here the singer taking a breath and the guitar players fingers sliding on the strings. - Simply magic.

Re:Here's the answer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635711)

Indeed.

But maybe its time for the industry to wake up for some needs that weren't around a fews years ago. People nowadays want things fast and now, and will not stand in line when they could have things right a way.

Maybe if we thought less about massive money making and tried to respond better to those needs things would be different..

Re:Here's the answer.... (3, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635777)

I have to admit, if I could buy a movie on the way out of a theater, I probably would in some circumstances. And think of all the parents who would have to buy the movie right then because their kids are screaming, "We want it now, we want it now, we want it now!!!"

I think the movie industry is missing out on some nice profits there. But, maybe I'm an idiot when it comes to profiting. As a poor idiot, I'm probably not qualified to make such judgments.

Re:Here's the answer.... (2, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635747)

First, the vast majority of people will not pay a hefty monthly fee for immediate access to recent movies and TV shows. So there really is not market for it. You cannot compete with free by putting a "hefty" fee on it. God, that's fricken ludicrous. Why is this completely asinine idea even posted here?!

Presumably, if the writer would be willing to pay a hefty fee, he would also be willing to pay a reasonable fee.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635761)

But would that "reasonable" fee for immediately access make up for the money lost on pay-per-view/premium TV/DVD/Blu-ray? (I'm talking about movies here, I have no idea why anyone would pay anything to watch TV!)

Re:Here's the answer.... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635891)

I pay around $20/month (approximately, at the current exchange rate) to be able to rent almost as many DVDs as I can watch, and have them shipped to me. This is the only way I watch any TV shows now, by renting them after they are aired. I would be more than happy to pay the same amount to be given access to a library of DRM-free downloads to watch, saving the shipping costs of transporting the DVDs to and from me. I would not pay for DRM'd media, because that would almost certainly prevent me from watching it on some of the devices I may wish to use for playback.

The movie industry needs to realise that the rental and sales models are doomed. Few people watch the same movie over and over again (small children excepted), and so the benefit in owning a copy of a film is small. Rental simply can not work for soft copies, because rental requires a scarcity that is not applicable. What they can offer, which has great value, is timely access to new material and large archives of older films. If you can download any film or TV show you want for a fixed monthly fee, in high quality with a good download speed, the incentive to pirate them disappears. Some people will download everything they can and archive it to massive hard disks, but most people won't. Why would they? If they want to watch something again they can just download it again and not have to worry about paying for the local storage and backups.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635787)

The answer is twofold. First, the vast majority of people will not pay a hefty monthly fee for immediate access to recent movies and TV shows.

Unless that includes every single show on earth as soon as it airs...

Since when? (2)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635943)

Millions and millions of households are quite willing to pay a monthly fee for cable or satellite television, even when free OTA signals are available. Why would another method of delivery be different? All it has to do is A) not suck technology-wise, and B) be fair in price.

Re:Here's the answer.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635985)

The answer is twofold. First, the vast majority of people will not pay a hefty monthly fee for immediate access to recent movies and TV shows.

That is not true. People today are paying for pirate copies when they pay services like rapidshare and binary news group access. So people will pay for legal content, if they could.

Second, the movie industry makes a lot of money with its gated approach to releasing movies.

That may be so, but they are also loosing money on all those people who download pirate content. Perhaps they would have made more money if all these people would pay the studios instead of to rapid share and the like.

Re:Here's the answer.... (2, Interesting)

c (8461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636005)

> First, the vast majority of people will not pay a hefty monthly fee for
> immediate access to recent movies and TV shows. So there really is not market
> for it. You cannot compete with free by putting a "hefty" fee on it.

A significant chunk of the population already pays a hefty monthly fee for whatever crap their cable/satellite providers choose to send them. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that people might be willing to transfer that hefty bit of change to something they actually want to view enough that they'll go through the hassle of downloading it (which, easy as it is, is still more of a pain than flipping on the TV and channel surfing).

> Second, the movie industry makes a lot of money with its gated approach to releasing movies.

That's certainly (was) true. But the gates are getting closer together, to the point that it doesn't make much sense to have them.

c.

It's caled "Netflix" idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635683)

Get a Netflix account and a Roku box. Then you also have access to Amazon VOD.

Amazon has a service where you can purchase movies (4, Informative)

Marrow (195242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635723)

They even have their own download client. Search on Video on Demand.

one stop media service (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27635841)

Same here, where can I sign on for a service that I can watch what I want whenever I want and pay a fare price for it. Without hunting up stuff on iPlayer, Hulu, iPlayer, itvPlayer etc. One payment to the ISP and a pay-as-you-go service with micro-payments.

Re:one stop media service (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635893)

spelling: s/fare/fair/

Idiot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27635851)

So let me get this straight....this guy has a buying pattern where he might be spending $100 or so on movie rentals, but thinks he should only have to spend $35 or so, and is surprised no one is taking him up on the offer?

He should send me $35/month just to show he's not about saving the money.

monthly fee... tv and movies.... (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27636099)

You mean, like, TV with a DVR attached? You know, using one of the cable or dish providers that support on-demand programming for almost every major new release the first month it's out?

Oh, yeah, they don't have an extensive catalog of older movies and TV shows. Well, it's a good thing the author of TFA already has a Netflix account for that.

Even better, the current crop of TiVos let you connect them to your home network and watch recordings on your PC or laptop, offering the author all the convenience of BitTorrent without the piracy.

Yeah, it's not a cheap arrangement, but TFA did specify a willingness to pay a "hefty" monthly fee. He just doesn't want to do it.

(And the /. headline's all wrong -- iTunes DOES offer recent TV and movie releases a la carte, but since when did it offer any music at all for a monthly fee?)

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