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Warner Bros. to Sell Movies Over BitTorrent

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the a-little-looser-rules-please dept.

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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319 comments

But! (5, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292355)

But you can allready download Warner Bros movies over bittorrent!

Oh wait, sell. Nevermind.

Re:But! (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292620)

And why would the risk of a low quality DL matter?
The first torrent was bad/poor? Download a different one.

I only say this because their product has the same release date as the DVD, which means that a DVD Rip/Screener is already going to be out.

Maybe the user base just needs to be 'educated' about nomenclature [vcdquality.com] & downloading the sample first.

Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292357)



From TFA:
Pricing for a feature film will be about the same as the DVD release.

Warner added that whether a TV show or feature film, it will only play on the initial computer used to make the download.

The downloads will not therefore work on other PCs or standard DVD players.
So let me get this straight...I can download a feature film, but can only play it on the system I downloaded it to, while for the same price I could have a DVD that I can play anywhere I wish. Hmm.

Also the issue of extra content (out-takes, deleted scenes, yadda yadda yadda) is not addressed. The article says I can download a 'feature film', but it mentions nothing regarding the bonus features (personally, I despise the bonus features, but I know many people who purchase DVDs with the bonus features specifically in mind). Even if the extra content is included (making for a hefty download), that still doesn't justify the price tag, seeing how the download is locked to one machine.

This doesn't really sound like Warner Bros. "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"...it sounds more like:
  • Warner Bros. wants to appear as if they are supporting movie downloads,
    while,
  • Warner Bros.' actual objective is to discourage the adoption of downloadable content as a standard.

Thanks for nothing, Warner Bros..

Why aren't they trying the $1.50 experiment [msn.com] here in the U.S.? Apparently, we're not pirating enough.

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (5, Insightful)

Carthag (643047) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292382)

I'm wondering how they will go about using bittorrent and DRM at the same time, effectively. Bittorrent's strength lies in many people having the exact same file, so if the DRM is added post-download, it would be trivial to intercept the data before the lockdown and use it as such. If the DRM is added before the download, I am having difficulties seeing how BT can be used to any significant advantage.

Encapsulating the movie in an encrypted executable that phones home for authorization? Ugh.

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

vally_manea (911530) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292428)

Most likely it will require a player that will phone home. Doesn't iTunes work exactly in the same way?

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (5, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292640)

iTunes doesn't use Bittorrent for distribution of it's content. It uses regular HTTP transfers (I think) from a lot of servers placed strategically around the country/world (by Akamai). The Akamai servers have the unencrypted files, and then encrypt them for a particular user when you go to buy/download one. The result is that the file I download with my iTunes userid is different from the file that you download, with your iTunes userid. This would keep us from using Bittorrent to download the files -- they're not the same.

What the GP was referring to is that Bittorrent relies on the files being the same (or at least having a lot of identical chunks) -- and if the files are the same, then they aren't being encrypted/DRMed in transit, like iTunes' are. Thus, it ought to be fairly trivial to intercept the data before it gets DRMed all to hell on your computer and locked down. At least theoretically ... it'll be interesting to see how they deal with this.

The other option is to send an encrypted file, for which there is only one key, but then once one person recovers the key, they can share it with everyone else who's downloaded the file and you lose a lot of security.

Basically it just doesn't seem like Bittorrent in general is really conducive to transmitting DRMed content, at least in the way that most companies are implementing DRM right now.

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292740)

Circumventing the DRM will (is) illegal. So who do a legal download and then make it illegal by circumventing the DRM? After all you connected to their tracker. So they have your ip. Not the wistest method to get free movies if you ask me.

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292496)

Oh, I imagine exactly the same way you press identical DVDs, but instead of 100s of manufacturer codes, you'll get your personal decryption key directly from WB, and then the bulk data via BitTorrent. Of course, this could get interesting if the keys are broken, since you then have legal uploaders which don't know if the downloader is a paying customer or has a warezed key...

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

qortra (591818) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292538)

Look at Fairplay DRM [wikipedia.org]. From what I understand, the assumption is that every AAC audio stream for a particular song is encrypted with the same master key. The user specific part comes in when an AAC player uses the "User Key" to decrypt the "Master key" (both stored in the MP4 container in the case of AAC) in realtime.

I assume that Warner Bros' scheme will just distributed the master-key-encrypted video streams with Bittorrent and either offload the encrypted master keys to some kind of insideous local DRM database on your computer, or simply append it (or prepend it) to the file after the download completes.

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292463)

not to mention, if nobody is seeding it all you paid for is a headache!

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (5, Insightful)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292699)

not to mention, if nobody is seeding it all you paid for is a headache!

This brings up an even more interesting point. So let me get this straight - WB will charge DVD prices for a less-than-DVD quality download crippled with DRM - and will use other people's computers to serve the bits.

Wow - lower quality, same price point, crippled DRM, and they don't even pick up the cost of hosting.

I'm sold - how do I get my computer to act as a server for them? Because I've always wanted my $45/m for internet to be used at the will of media companies to avoid the hosting fees associated with "allowing" users to download DRM crippled overly-expensive movie releases. Huzzah!

Re:Thanks, Warner Bros....I *guess*... (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292586)

The big problem I see is the same one I've seen with legal music downloads: The end product is at least in some ways worse than the one you can get for free from emule or torrent sites. Specifically, if I buy mp3s of the new Tool album from iTunes, I have to figure out payment, I have to either keep the mp3s in their limits or jump through hoops, and I don't even think you can play the tracks in a non-iTunes player (I don't actually know, to be honest). On the other hand, if I just download it from a p2p program, I can do whatever I want with it. iTunes has the advantages of keeping the quality constant and avoiding litigation, but that's about it. All the same stuff applies here, except I'm fairly certain that the limit of one computer is more stringent (read: worse) than iTunes. I don't know, call me crazy, but if I'm paying for something, I'd rather it be at least as convenient as what I can download for free.

And that's ASIDE from wanting to bring down the horrible bastards that are the record industry. :)

No. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292361)

The movies they're distributing will be in Windows Media Player format and won't play on Linux or Mac OS X. (Yes, there is a "Windows Media Player" for Mac but it doesn't support DRMed content.)

I'll stick with The Pirate Bay for my cross-platform movie needs. Warner Bros. should set up a PayPal tip jar so that I can send them a few bucks if I think their movie was good.

Re:No. (0, Redundant)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292403)


Mplayer will play Windows Media Player format in Linux, although like the Mac Windows Media Player, DRMed content is not supported.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292438)

Mac Windows Media Player will play Windows Media Player format in OS X, although like Mplayer for linux, DRMed content is not supported.

(That added absolutely nothing to what the GP was saying, but neither did your post)

Windows Only, Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292542)

So, Windows only, just like CinemaNow and MovieLink. Grand; this is Microsoft's dream come true. They gave Hollywood the strong DRM they wanted, and Hollywood responded. If people actually have a good response to these services, that presents a problem for Mac and Linux users.

I'm far from an expert on antitrust law, but if Windows becomes a defacto platform for downloaded movies, does that mean they'll be required to allow third parties to implement their DRM algorithms?

The current experiment doesn't much concern me, because just buying a DVD is much better value. But if prices drop to the point where customers take notice, Microsoft wins again.

Good idea in Theory (5, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292368)

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.

Re:Good idea in Theory (2, Interesting)

toad3k (882007) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292505)

You'd think it would cost the same as a movie rental. About 3 bucks.

Re:Good idea in Theory (2, Insightful)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292611)

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.

You and mostly anybody else, but tell that to the Holywood execs. It's a simple problem, except they don't want to see it as such: they're competing with movies in 2 CD format, distributed for almost free, which only cost the downloader the Internet bandwidth and can be used however they please. How do you beat that? Hint: NOT with a 4+ GB download that plays on only one computer and is priced the same as a full DVD.

So what's the big advantage? Don't say the legal aspect. If that was really an issue, we wouldn't be talking about this. I suppose it would be nice to feel 100% legal, but under our conditions, not theirs.

So what they should do is sell downgraded versions about 1 or 1.5 GB big, without any restrictions, for at most 10 bucks. That and the legal bit would be worth it and make a good offer, but I reckon it's gonna be a while until we see that become the norm. Oh well, joke's on them. Any year that passes without such services is a year they don't collect from them. Let's see if they can match this would-be income with the money they get from lawsuits. No? Didn't think so either.

You're Competing with Piracy! (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292369)

First off, I wish Warner Brothers would get it through their head that if they are to compete with piracy, they have to price the movies as such.

If they price them as much as the hardcopies, who's going to buy them? Nobody. Your pirates are trying to escape high prices & your regular DVD buyers are going to balk at the offer for the fact that they could order a nice shiny cased DVD off amazon for the same price.

I highly doubt anyone will use this service if they keep the prices on par with the DVDs. If they offer them at even half price, then you might see some movement from both sides (pirates and DVD buyers) to that middle ground and hopefully recoup some of your losses from the pirates.

Offer downloads so cheap that you run the pirates out of business but leave quality lacking so true fans will always buy the DVDs.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (4, Interesting)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (3, Insightful)

Hrshgn (595514) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292490)

But people who buy DVDs today might download MORE movies if prices were lower. I only buy movies of which i'm sure that i'll watch them more than once. If prices were lower, i would also take the risk and download an unknown movie. hrshgn

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292493)

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.

Oh, I doubt that. They wont have to pay for manufacturing, distribution with be a fraction of the cost (they aren't even paying for all the bandwidth), and the middleman with all this B&M employees will be out of the picture. This will be a stream of almost pure profit. Also, the more they drop the price, the more it will be an impulse buy, like the $5.50 bargin bin at your local Wal-Mart.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292554)

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.

or they live in a country that only imports/gets the crappy movies?
and the "imports" are expensive as hell?

or these "pirates" just don't like to bring a bunch of dvd's around when travelling. partly because it takes up space, but mostly because it uses a lot of battery on the laptop to play dvds. much easier and better with xvids

i _WANT_ to pay for movies (at least the ones i download/see), but i'm not given any options. except to order them from some other country (and if i order from the us, i'm not legally allowed to play them (i'm region 2))

stop fucking the consumers around, please.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292562)

Nonsense.

Kids, unemployed people maybe. Adults much less so. At some point you realize: "Hmm, I can either pay for this with 15 minutes of work, or spend 2 hours looking for a crack that might be loaded with spyware. Then I'll probably have to spend a day to reinstall Windows."

If you don't have money, you just "pay" with your time instead. Give me MP3 at $0.1 per song and pirating will be completely pointless. Movies I'd be willing to buy at about $5, with no DRM, as a DVD image.

Personally, I don't buy DVDs. Why? Expensive, insane industry, forced ads in content I'm paying for, DRM interfaces... like hell I will pay for that. Remove all that insanity, offer it with an easy to access system that works from Linux, and I'll happily start buying.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (1)

nfarrell (127850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292574)

You're forgetting about distribution costs, packaging costs, 'shrinkage' (theft) costs plus all the administrative overhead of moving boxes of DVDs around the world.

Sure, I agree pirates aren't going to start paying for what they can - and do - get for free. But I bet that the cost of physically selling DVDs is about 30% of their retail price. The other 70% might be royalties and WB profit.

So WB could sell a $15 DVD for around $10 without even decreasing their profit margin. Even bandwidth costs wouldn't be much, given they want to use bittorrent.

The biggest drawback I can see from WB's perspective is once you have people BT'ing their movies legitimately, they then get impatient with waiting for the DVD release date and get the 'bad quality rips' instead.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292422)

Offer downloads so cheap that you run the pirates out of business but leave quality lacking so true fans will always buy the DVDs.


So basically the movie will have the title credits and the end credits. Small files though.

Re:You're Competing with Piracy! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292500)

First off, I wish Warner Brothers would get it through their head that if they are to compete with piracy, they have to price the movies as such.

Perhaps they have actually acquired a clue, but they clearly haven't unwrapped it yet.

Offer downloads so cheap that you run the pirates out of business but leave quality lacking so true fans will always buy the DVDs.

You keep your clue nice and shiney.

KFG

Are these the same people? (1)

shreevatsa (845645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292372)

Ironically, there is also this article [businessweek.com] from Businessweek about "How undercover FBI agents nab the bootleggers who threaten the movie biz". That article goes into some really unjustified sensationalistic nonsense, seems to be mix up movies and warez, and also refers to movie piraters as "bandits".

viruses and quality (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Cost of bandwidth (5, Insightful)

xiangpeng (324117) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292380)

So, I have to pay the same price for the movie, minus the physical media? Shouldn't WB be paying people who are helping to distribute the movie too? Users using this service will have to pay for their bandwidth AND the cost of the movie at the same price of a DVD?

Thanks WB. Wonderful business plan you got there.

Re:Cost of bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292413)

I was wondering the same thing. Essentially WB is selling my bandwidth to other people.

No, I don't think I'll be letting them do that.

--
M

BT as a distribution method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292471)

Is completly bullshit.

I out and out refuse to pay both the cost of the good I am purchasing as well as the cost of the bandwith. If WB wants me to upload to other users then I will be ahppy to do so when they start to pay my connection costs.

Many ISP's charge extra for more then n GB of data transfer per month. Am I supposed to absorb this cost?

When I pay for something that I am goign to download, be it pr0n, music, movies or what have you, I expect the provider to supply me with a fast download stream and service that is not dependant of how many other users want to see Ashley Blue take on 7 dudes at a time.

Re:Cost of bandwidth (2, Insightful)

zxnos (813588) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292659)

you have to pay for the vehicle and the gas to get to the store. (at least many of us). actually this is a just a ploy. when it flops because fewer people pay full price for less of a product, WB will say: see, that doesnt work, they just want to pirate... i would pay a buck or two to download a movie and watch it. not full, media in my hand price though...

personally, i have received a number of free rentals through movielink. i will never pay for the service because the cost of a rental from them is the same as if i went to my local rental store. i will stick to waiting 2 months and going to the theater 1 mile from my house which only charges a 1.50$ to see a flick... ...and downloading the occasional free movie when the offer is there.

Why should Warner Bos have my bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292395)

Buggered if I'm going to donate my bandwidth to Warner Bros by using bittorrent with a movie stream they are making money out of.

Poor quality, or... (3, Insightful)

UnixRevolution (597440) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292396)

Perhaps it'd be worth it to not spend 8 days downloading the Swedish version of Star Wars Ep. I like my friend did, thinking it was english.

Re:Poor quality, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292624)

Why? the dialog only detracts from the film.

Am I an idiot??? (1)

podRZA (907929) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292399)

The article claims pirated videos can "contain viruses." Am I an idiot, or how is this possible? My understanding is that a virus can only be contained in executable code. If the torrent I am using downloads only a single avi or mpg, how can I possibly get a virus from that? I can understand a corrupt download, but a virus?

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292457)

Unfortunately, there are idiots who download 200kB files named big_film.mpg.exe and have the "hide known file type extension" set.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (4, Informative)

shawb (16347) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292465)

If the media player you use is unsecure, the media file could cause a buffer overrun (or even use innate scripting abilities... remember word macro viruses?) to run "arbitrary code." It's even possible to do this simply viewing a picture...

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292579)

i second that, buffer overflows are waiting for you everywhere. decoding an mpeg-4 stream is quite complicated and an easy glitch means that anything can pop up in the memory just about anywhere.

what's even more tempting, if you manage to hack the original file distributed by WB, you'll get virus out to the users at a blasting speed and since nobody encodes it over again as it's done in the illegal movies world, there's no chance to not to be infected. and since they are forced to use the same buggy player for playback, there's no chance for them to escape it that way either.

how are they planning to do this technically anyway, last time i checked the security model of bittorrent was non-existant. if the data will still be fetched from peer hosts as it's done now, the security of the whole thing is a bliss. see the docs of bittorrent's protocol if you find this hard to believe and try to figure out some ways to exploit it. there are possibilities for that.

my bittorrent is fixed to report an upload ratio 10 times bigger than it really is, to the servers. this means around 4 extra characters into a file in the python client "10*(original value)".

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292476)

If there is a bug (i.e. potential buffer overflow) in the player, then it is possible for somebody to taylor an image/movie/music file to exploit it.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292485)

No you're absolutey correct.

WB are blatantly lying in order to con non-techie types into using their service.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292605)

No he's not. There have been viruse's that took advantage of holes in .jpg viewers and they travel as .jpg files.

Making one that exploits a hole in a common video player would be no more difficult.

No, just uneducated. (3, Informative)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292492)

Considering Windows Media Player interprets scripts embedded in video files, they can contain executable code. Then there's always the possibility of buffer overflows within the player code that handles the data part, which turns your data into executable code, and there are probably dozens of other things I haven't thought of off the top of my head, too.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

certel (849946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292508)

You know as well as I do that it's just a plot to scare people from downloading movies and music on the internet. Typically, the worst thing that would come of this would be downloading a masked file that is in fact a virus. On the other hand, things like size of the file, name, release group, etc, can all be easily identified. My understanding is that the actual download medium is the worst application to receive any type of virus of malicious code.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (5, Informative)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292513)

The article claims pirated videos can "contain viruses." Am I an idiot, or how is this possible? My understanding is that a virus can only be contained in executable code.

You're not thinking like a Windows user are you? This is the platform that brought us e-mail viruses. E-MAIL VIRUSES for Christ's sake! Who would have thought 10 years ago as we were all laughing at the newbies passing around the Good Times virus hoax chain letter that Microsoft's "innovative" e-mail client Outbreak and Outbreak Express would make it entirely possible to spread very virulent e-mail viruses within a few years? You could get infected without even opening the e-mail message! Ugh. So, do you really trust your Windows PC to not be susceptible to viruses embedded in video streams? I sure don't.

Oh, and as for other platforms, I'd bet you 100 DVD-RWs that the only platform this service will support is Windows.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

user24 (854467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292516)

you can get malicious code from deliberately corrupted files playing in, eg, WMP.
But I.. um.. 'know someone'.. who'se been downloading films for years and I have^H^H^H^H^H^H he has -never- seen either a virus or malicious code in an avi file. This sounds like FUD-mongering on WB's part.

Yes, yes you are ... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292532)

I guess... Here is a link [ask-leo.com]. WMV files can contain scripting for podcasts and stuff, and can be abused. That's the the easy way. If you were hardcore you'd make a video file that would perform a buffer overflow and infect your target that way...

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292610)

In college I saw a pirated movie in Windows Media format (ASF?) that opened Internet Explorer to a specific web page near the end. If someone crafted a file that opened an exploit page, your system will be compromised.

One solution is to disable Internet connectivity during movie playback, but that seems pretty annoying to me.

Re:Am I an idiot??? (1)

nincehelser (935936) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292692)

Just make an evil executable that has a name that looks like a movie.

Most people will have no idea what an avi or mpg file is. They'll just open the icon and let it run. By the time they figure out it isn't a movie, it will be too late.

i don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292404)

Why would anyone pay almost as much for a drm'd file than a dvd?

New Computers? (2, Insightful)

mizhi (186984) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292420)

What about when a person who upgrades their family computer and wants to be able to watch the movies he purchased and backed up? Is he forced to buy another copy of the movie to watch it because his old copy won't play on his new machine? Why should I pay for something that will simply be unusable in 5 years after I upgrade my computer?

Count me out. I'll just stick with DVDs: the price is the same, without the gimping of the product (region codes aside).

Do they know (5, Informative)

Neurotoxic666 (679255) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292435)

Kazaa's era is over?

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.

No we won't. Not all of us. People who already download movies illegaly now have access to forums where quality copies are available, feedbacks and comments let people judge if the movie is worth the download, some titles are posted before they're released on DVD, many languages, subs and regions can be found rather easily -- FOR FREE. Of course, there's always the crappy cam or the bad compression here and there. But it's not like you pay much for them either...

I think the industry just missed the boat. If they want "pirates" to use their service instead, they'll need to provide some insentive, which same-as-DVD release date and prices are not.

They are right of course (1)

Walles (99143) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292682)

Of course "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".

But since Warner's opinion about what "reasonable" means may or may not match the market's opinion, the statement is pointless. But correct.

Bad advertising. (2, Interesting)

kneeslasher (878676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292439)

"...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.

Re:Bad advertising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292696)

"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"

By "potential customers," do you mean "slashdot users?" Because the normal general public doesn't know or care about this stuff.

Worth it for pirates? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292440)

I could see this being worthwhile for pirates looking for a digital media file to easily transcode into XVid, if ripping from a DVD still takes just *that* much longer...

It's all their fault! (2, Funny)

GFPerez (683823) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292441)

"Hey, we sell the DVD for a (*cough*) reasonable price and we offer digital downloads of our content for an (*cough*) excellent price! They pirate our movies because they want to, not because we don't offer a (*cough*) good way to get it!"

Reasonable??? (1)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292443)

Honestly, what kind of pipe are they smoking.

Trying online distribution over BT is the way to go if they don't want to come crashing down, BUT what is reasonable about paying the same price for something so crippled, compared to something that isn't, + a nice hard copy, + nice packaging.

especially when this crippled version is costing them next to nothing to distribute.

next thing you know they'll want more money to re download it if your file gets damaged later. and your BOUND to have to pay again if you upgrade/replace your PC so their DRM fails.

whatever DRM system they use will probably not be supported 1-2 years later (new DRM brand Y, no backwards compatability) , and you'll have to think about buying it again then too.

Oops! (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292447)

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.

They are wrong.

Destined for Failure (4, Insightful)

Xesdeeni (308293) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292448)

The whole using Bittorrent to distribute anything for a profit should be axed by users until they get a cut. No media, no home theater, single machine, no bandwidth, no storage, but the full DVD price!? Yeah, that'll fly.

Xesdeeni

Wonder if the consumers will see through it? (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292462)

So WB wants to introduce something that cuts costs for them immensely (they aren't even paying for bandwidth, if I'm understanding this correctly), and then decides not to pass this saving onto the consumer. Together with more dubious DRMing, how is this going to terminate the piracy networks? You might as well ask people to buy DVDs and rip them for personal use. (if that isn't illegal yet)

I think it's fairly clear who they are aiming for with this: They are not trying to compete with piracy - no matter what they say in the press releases. Rather, they think it is more profitable for them to simply ignore the computer-literate current filesharers, and market directly towards the new and relatively tech-iliterate users. The pricing point is set to compete with DVDs, and the idea is that people unaware of DRM and so on can be sold on the convenience aspects, and would not dig deeply enough to find the free downloads available elsewhere. The companies can then reap the savings, and everyone is happy and rootkitted.

Re:Wonder if the consumers will see through it? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292568)

If I were (more) computer illiterate, the choice will be even more simple:
*Get the box from the store. Easy, and I'm already going there at least once a week for food and other stuff.
or
*Discover I can download from the net, ask someone to install a torrent client on my PC, fight my fear of pirates and give my credit card number over the internet, wait hours for the downlaod to complete because there will be no-one to seed except WB itself, waste a blank DVD trying to brun it. Another one? No f***ing way!

ISPs (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292483)

Ignoring the other issues, what would the big ISPs do if this caught on? I've read numerous reports of people getting harassed by their ISPs for making use of their "unlimited" Internet access. Plus, this competes with their video-on-demand service.

Uh, no thanks. (4, Insightful)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292494)

Warner added that whether a TV show or feature film, it will only play on the initial computer used to make the download. The downloads will not therefore work on other PCs or standard DVD players.

A small step in the right direction, but no thanks. I'd gladly buy an un-DRM'd file that I can burn to DVD and shrink to put on my ipod.

I require AMP (that's Absolute Media Portability). Can I play it on my non-network connected TV in the bedroom? Can my kids watch it in the car? Can I loan it to my friend? If the answer to any of those is "No", then I'm really not interested. If "Yes", then I'll be VERY interested.

It seems incredibly stupid to me for media companies to waste money on physical distribution when they could be distributing bits. But I requite that I can do the same thing with those bits that I can do with physical media.

-S

Re:Uh, no thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292705)

Remember CSS - they never wanted to let you do any of that with the physical media either. DVD got *really* popular before it was DeCSS'd, which meant they were stuck with it.

They desperately want to supplant DVD with something with new 'uncrackable' DRM.

Since the new HD formats don't really add much value to the typical 'consumer' (unlike DVD as compared to VHS - no rewinding, smaller player, less susceptible to wear and damage, much better quality), it is going to take a LONG time before DVD goes away.

...and they would be right. (1)

camt (162536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292497)

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.

And they would be right. However, regarding "reasonable": I do not think it means what they think it means.

This makes no sense (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292499)

How can you bittorrent a file that will only play on one machine? Why would people volunteer to share bandwidth and hosting of a file that will not play on THEIR machine? Won't all machines involved in the bittorrent hosting need/want to be able to playback the file? Why should WB expect us to help bear the costs in bandwidth and storage if they're not going to discount the sale to reflect the reduced delivery costs?

Re:This makes no sense (1)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292558)

yeah, I hadn't paused to think about that, that's a VERY valid point. unless the drm key was stored in just a few file parts, and the rest can be shared? but then I beleive that would be soooooooo easy to crack it would be unworkable. mod parent up!

Tell me why I should buy it (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:Tell me why I should buy it (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292614)

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).
Depends on what your and their bandwidth supports. My FiOS connection could download a 4.9GB DVD in under an hour. Presuming that all the bells and whistles didn't come with it and you just got the video and AC3 audio stream, download times are even less.

Most of my movies that I've ripped from my DVDs are in the 1-1.5GB range with AC3 audio. A 3mbit connection is fast enough to download and watch in real time if the file format supported it.

Re:Tell me why I should buy it (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292664)

Good in theory, but over here providers started to throttle non-HTTP traffic (which of course they DOOOOONT do, noooooway). It's interesting to see a SCP session putter along at 5kbps to someone hanging on the same provider as you, when he's supposed to have an upload speed of 256kb and that's supposedly the bottleneck in the connection...

It might work in some areas of the world, but most will just laugh at this offer.

No use to me. (3, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292504)

This is no use to me. What I want is simple:

My preferred movie characterastics (in order of priority)

1) No (or easily circumventable) DRM.
2) Legal.
3) High quality.
4) Cheap.

This matches 2 and 3, but misses my number 1 priority.

The best match so far is a DVD, since its easy to bypass the DRM in order to copy the movies onto my home built media devices. Other times I end up downloading the odd movie which fulfils 1, 4, and often 3 as well.

Currently for many downloading is the best option by far, which is unfortunate because of its questionable legality. If only the industry would lower the price and remove the DRM it would match all four for me and I would be jumping at it. I think they are just too scared and/or greedy to do that though.

So Let's Just Think About This A Moment... (5, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:So Let's Just Think About This A Moment... (1)

codefool (189025) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292712)

Every point you've made is valid, but, at least this is a step in the right direction. Of course, who would pay the DVD price for a download version with DRM, when the costs of doing so is so much higher (bandwidth costs, computing costs, time). When the market complains that they want the service/product but with some adjustments (lower price, multiple runs), then the business model should change. If not, it will die. Such is economics.

gnu ported to unix (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15292539)

frist post

Wonder if this is part of a legal strategy? (4, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 7 years ago | (#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."

Re:Wonder if this is part of a legal strategy? (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292703)

That may be true, but this is something that they should have done a long time ago. The industries are slow at innovation, they want to just keep doing things the same way and get a constant, easy stream of money.

I think I would pay for it provided...
  - I actually get a fast kps, with lots of peers.
  - the file is encoded in a *GOOD* format that is playable ins something other than windows media player.
  - DRM alert!!!! See above, if I cant play it on a player of choice, or back it up on a personal DVD, then you might as well buy a DVD.

Re: (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292576)

even if the costs are the same between buying the DVD and downloading it. Downloading it would save you the shipping costs and time which can be really high for some countries

What they should do (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292578)

is to buy stock in a hd manufacturer and lower the prices on thier downloads, this way they could make up the difference via the harddrive shares from all the space people will need from 4 gig movie files.

who will seed? (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292601)

If it costs me the same as a DVD, I sure as holy hell will not seed it! make it $5 and I may seed for a few hours.

Wow. The clue meter is reading zero. (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292655)

Okay, some of these have already been covered, but there are a few others of my own to throw in.

  1. Which version? Widescreen or pan-and-scan ... sorry ... "full screen"? Most likely pan-and-scan ... sorry ... "full screen". No freakin' thanks.
  2. DD 5.1? Probably not.
  3. Extras? Behind the scenes? Highly doubtful.
  4. Separate audio tracks for director's and cast commentaries? Not.
  5. Subtitles for those who need them? Nope.
  6. Portable to other players? Ah. DRM. Nevermind.
  7. Burn your own DVD from the image? Not until a hack, huh?
  8. DVD resolution? Possibly, but I'm not holding my breath.

So ... I'm getting a fraction of a DVD's normal content most likely in pan-and-scan ... sorry .. "full screen" without DD 5.1, behind-the-scenes, or separate audio tracks for the cost of a regular DVD that I can then watch in every player that I own. And exactly how is this a better alternative to a DVD?

Geez, why even bother.... (1)

billybob (18401) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292657)

What a joke, I don't see them selling a single freaking copy with that kind of plan. If they want to offer a serious alternative to illegal downloading, there need to be very compelling reasons... instead they choose to price them the same as DVD's, but you can do WAY less with them, and you can't get them any earlier than normal DVD release date. Wow, sure to a hit guys! Way to be on top of the times!

They need to remember they're competing with FREE. If the downloads were $5 max, or if you were able to burn them to a DVD and they would play in any player, either of those might give them a decent chance. As is, this is a sure failure.

What about non-Windows OSes? (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292663)

XINE and other movie players for *NIX seem to have problems with certain codecs and DRM. Will they really release movies playable on all OSes?

Studio's Fear Factor (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292684)

The inclusion of a 'sample.avi' in bittorrent packages, with checksum verification and the torrent sites that 'Hose' or 'Nuke' packages that are poor quality or contain virus along with all the people who DL/Seed these files, pretty much guarentee a level of quality that will be equal or surpass that of any Film Studio releases. Someone doesn't have to DL the entire package, just the sample, see the .nfo files, and determine if they want to DL the entire .torrent package. I find it funny that nobody even mentioned the possibility of prosecution as a result of using BitTorrent for illegal or shoddy quality DL/Seeding. It seems anonimity on BitTorrent is pretty much a foregone conclusion, and the studios are in deep deep kaka regarding their play-it-like-an-osterich approach to new tech and distribution channels. BT is wonderful, convenient and the studios had better get on with their reality check sooner than later.

This is certainly not secure (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292694)

Is there any way to stop users from redirecting the out-stream and saving the movie in another file?

Gahhhhhhhhhh! (1)

Utini (973715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292720)

Another day, another bad idea from the greedy morons in "power". Here is my quick and easy solution to eliminate piracy once and for all: LOWER YOUR PRICES!!! It really would be THAT simple.

No (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292727)

I'm sorry, but if they expect you to pay USD ~$15, they'd better have the servers and bandwidth for direct downloads. BitTorrent is supposed to save money so that people can publish things ultra-cheaply, not make me have to leech off my peers to get what I want.

Let's see... (1)

CharonX (522492) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292728)

You can only play it on one PC - unlike the DVD which you can play wherever you want.
You cannot sell it after you have seen it - unlike the DVD which can, or give away as a gift, etc.
You have to "share" you bandwith, so with a slow upload it can take hours or days to finish - instead of a quick drive to the next shop
You have to pay the same amount of money - for less product (see above)

WHY would I buy it then? If I want to be honest, I get more if I just skip all the hassle and buy the DVD, if I don't care, I'll still grab it from one of the countless torrent sites...

looks like a classic example... (2, Insightful)

spacemanspiff18 (883238) | more than 7 years ago | (#15292737)

Sometimes the most effective way to oppose is to publicly support in a format in which is likely to fail. You see this in all kind of political arenas. Seems like WB is just adding another example to the list.
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