Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Downloading Movies and Music

Has it been a week since I've blogged? Yikes. Mr. Geeky was away last week, so I was single parenting and then over the weekend, I convinced the kids to help me clean up around the house. So there. I spent the rest of the time watching bad tv and gaming. It's what I do when the brain is mush.

Anyway, to keep the kids entertained over the weekend, I decided to download some movies for us to watch. And let me just say, it was rather frustrating. Not completely frustrating. Just rather. As this Wired article points out, the movie industry is going the same way as the music industry did. They're creating restrictive distribution methods that prevent people from doing what they used to do with the old media. Case in point. For me, the best way to download a movie would be through Amazon because that goes directly to my TiVo so I can watch it on the big screen. But Amazon's collection didn't include anything I had any desire to watch, so I switched to iTunes. For my family viewing purposes, iTunes had a better selection, but I can only download to my computer. I can't shift the media to my TiVo. If I had AppleTV, I could, but I don't. In the old media days (and I know most people are still living in those days), I would have rented a DVD (or VHS) and it would have been no problem. I could watch it on the big screen without thinking twice. I guess the only equivalent old media issue that was similar was the VHS/Beta wars. And yes, I remember them.

What we need is a digital version of the DVD player. It shouldn't matter where you rent your digital movie from. You should be able to send it to the box and play it in your TV--or wherever. As it was, I hooked up my computer to the TV and we watched everything just fine, but it wasn't ideal. David Pogue also points out these issues in a recent column. He discusses the most maddening of problems with movie downloads:
Then there is the 24-hour limit. Suppose you typically do not start a movie until 7:30 p.m., after dinner and the homework have been put away. If you do not have time to finish the movie in one sitting, you cannot resume at 7:30 tomorrow night; at that point, the download will have self-destructed.
Again, not an issue with rented DVDs. You keep the movie for 3 days usually (or if you're like me, a week or two). You can watch it over and over if you want. Not so with the digital movie unless you do so within the 24-hour period. And most of us just aren't going to do that.

As both authors point out, the movie industry is pissing off the very people who are willing to shell out money for their products. And some of those people are going to turn to BitTorrent instead of iTunes. It has a better selection, it's cheaper, and you can do whatever you want with it. Come up with the legal version of this and you'll make money.

The same kinds of issues can be found in the music industry, which I also had experience with over the weekend. Songs and artists aren't available through every digital venue, although it seems to be better than the movie industry. Still, just as I might choose which music store I go to because it's close or I like the owner, I should be able to choose my digital music store for the same reasons.

Sadly, I get the feeling that most of this is not going to come out in the consumers' favor.