Monday, April 03, 2006

Arrgh! Thar be movies over yonder

You know, maybe I talk too much about downloading movies here. Specifically, I like to talk about legal downloads. I do this because the subject of downloading movies hits close to home for me.

Huh? No. Wait, did you think No. Of course not. What I mean is that I think that legal downloading is the future, and as much as I hate Digital Rights Management (DRM), I understand that it is going to be a part of this future. It's unfortunate because it's DRM that will ensure that legal downloads will never work. It will be the albatross around the studios' collective necks.

For example...both Movielink and CinemaNow offer legal movie downloads from the major studios. Movielink is OWNED by five of the studios (and hates your firefox browser), CinemaNow is only going to be getting movies from Sony, MGM and Lions Gate. Both sites allow you to PURCHASE (for about $20) a movie and download it to your computer, where it will stay. Forever. Unless you delete it. It will never be someplace a physical DISC that you can play in your dvd player and watch on your tv. No. You can watch it on your computer, or if you have a video card with a s-video out, you can run your computer to your television.

So, as the kind of person who goes to my friend's house with movies all the time, I fail to see this as a wonderful innovation that greets the digital age head on. All it means is that I would have to BRING MY ENTIRE COMPUTER to my friend's house to watch a movie or to at the very least let him watch it.

I love my DVD collection. I love everything about it. I love how hard it is for me to find anything and how much space it takes up. Ok, maybe not everything, but the dvds...I love. Deleted scenes. Commentaries. Video diaries, interviews and making ofs. Love them. As such, I have had no problem justifying the purchase of altogether too many movies. Movies that I had already "owned". Stuff that I acquired (one way or another) and liked and bought. I constantly do this. Why? Because there's nothing like that new DVD smell....mmmm.....half new car and half airplane glue...smells like purple....

Like I've said in the past, just make a simple system and people will come. That was the beauty of iTunes. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was simple. For 99 cents, you can download any song they have. Between the simplicity of the system and all the downloads they gave away with Pepsi and 7-11, it took off. And while it isn't cd quality, and it covered in DRM, it's a pretty good system. It's not perfect, but, for the most part you can do what you want with the songs you buy. And that seems to be the biggest thing still missing from the movie studio's download equation for success is the ability to do what you want after buying the movie. Hard drives are, yes, relatively cheap these days, but not as cheap as blank dvds. And certainly not as easy to deal with. I don't see why it's so hard.