Movie Studios Still Confused About How BitTorrent Works

from the not-the-same-benefit dept

It’s no secret that the movie industry has had some trouble understanding BitTorrent. Early on, they blamed the technology for file sharing — despite it simply being a technology for efficient distribution of popular files. After plenty of people worked very hard to try to explain to the industry that BitTorrent wasn’t the problem, the industry finally agreed to a deal with BitTorrent, the company, that was only notable for its lack of anything notable in the deal. Of course, now that they’re trying to embrace BitTorrent, is it really a surprise that they clearly still don’t get it? Warner Brothers is about to get a lot of publicity for its decision to use BitTorrent to distribute films and TV shows online. However, the details are not that impressive. Like other recent moves by the movie industry, they seem to take much of the convenience out of the deal. The content will have plenty of annoying copy protection, meaning you’ll be able to burn a single copy to a DVD… but that DVD will only play on a computer, not a DVD player. On top of that, the prices will be approximately equal to the price of a DVD. So, people will pay the same amount for much less? Warner Brothers doesn’t have to pay for packaging or materials and, thanks to BitTorrent, they don’t even have to pay for bandwidth! In fact, that’s where this gets even more ridiculous. They’re offloading the cost of the bandwidth onto the buyers, but giving them no benefit in return. Also, of course, the real benefit to BitTorrent is only for content where there’s a lot of demand and many people are downloading at once, so BitTorrent spreads around the load. In a system like this, there’s a good chance that there won’t be enough demand at any given point in time to see that much of a benefit for using BitTorrent. It seems like this is the type of deal Warner is doing just so they can claim they’re embracing BitTorrent.

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Comments on “Movie Studios Still Confused About How BitTorrent Works”

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Rob S. (user link) says:

Missing the boat

That was well summarised, Mike. It’s all a bit sad, really. Although it’s true that you can get pretty much anything you want for free if you know where to look, I would be mightily tempted to buy movies made legally available for download, but only IF the price was right! I never thought I’d buy music online, but I find myself spending loads over at Why? Because it costs me less than buying the CD. If it cost the same (iTunes) then I could just as well go to the music store, buy the disc and rip it at home.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's an evil plot!

Watch what they do next: When the bandwidth of the movies they release is in the gutter because noone with half a brain is downloading and seeding them, they’ll blame bittorrent as an inferior technology and use this against them. There still isn’t any reason to target BitTorrent though…

Brad says:

Smart move by WB

I think they know plenty well how Bit Torrent works.

No one in their right mind is going to pay $20 for a burn-once DVD that only plays on computers. This in turn leads to poor sales, and pirating stays at its curent levels.

Then guess what happens? Warner Bros gets to say “The claim that people only pirate due to a lack of a legal online alternative is incorrect. We gave people the option to download our material legally, yet they continued pirating it. This conclusively proves that illegal online filesharing cannot be curbed by releasing material legally online, and BitTorrent must be shut down immediately.”

So there you go. By charging a ridiculous price for an inferior product, they get to claim that online distribution doesnt work because people would rather pirate material than pay for it. Which is true, but a lot less true than movie studios think.

If I could download a movie for the cost of a rental, with no DVD-burning permissions, I would. If I could download a movie, for, say, $10 with DVD Burn-Once permission (that played on regular DVD Players), and had a DVD Burner, I would. If I could download a movie, with all the special features, in DVD-Quality, with burn-multiple permissions and had a DVD burner, then yes, maybe I would pay full price.

Steve says:

in defense of WB

In defense of Warner Bros., if there are any studios out there that “get it” when it comes to consumer consumptions, these guys rank on the TOP of the list.

First of all, when DVD first came out, they were the first studio to actually put out a LOT of titles, and for a very long time the entire DVD library belonged almost completely to them. Not only that, but they pioneered the Special Edition DVD (making it an even more good alternative from Laserdisc), giving more to the consumer.

Even today, when it comes to commercials and forced ads on WB, they are the nicest of all the studios. In most cases there is only a short introduction or just a studio logo before watching the movie.

Give them some credit for at least trying something new. Warner Bros. has proved in the past that they are not stupid when it comes to movie distribution to the home. I’m not sure what they’re up to, or if it will work, but at least they are trying something new.

Why does Techdirt always rag on the studios for not doing anything, and then rag on them when they do? Do you guys think everything is going to be done exactly right the first time? Give them some room to grow.

Angry Rivethead says:

The MPAA isn't quite

as ignorant as the RIAA but they’re pretty close, atleast they didn’t wait AS long to offer moviedownloads as they did for music downloads. The ONLY way this would work is if they suckered people into buying a stylish, yet few featured overpriced specific peice of hardware to play these movies…like iTunes/iPod did. The only reason iTunes/iPod is so successful is because they have 90% of the population tricked into believeing they were the only show in town, when in fact the rest of us had been downloading music since 1996 off of personal FTP sites and playing on either a PC we had buried in our entertainment centers, in the trunks of our cars or cobbled together standalone players.

Anyone remember MOD, s3m, it or ff files? I can remember a number of songs redone in these formats back in the day.

The MPAA needs to loose the crap and go to an model, or they’re dead in the water.

Bryan says:

When will they learn...

When will these people learn that as long as there are people, there will be pirated music, software and movies. If they would make decent quality movies, software that didn’t crash on a schedule, and music that has more than just ‘filler’ songs, and charge a fair price, people would be less likely to make illegal copies. Not saying it’ll stop, but it will certainly mean less of it.

m0rd3r says:

Re: When will they learn...

Seems to me that its the fear of losing money getting in the way of any new and creative movies/music. I think there are plenty of artists out there with some good, original, ideas but they’re not being given a chance. That and the people in charge probably dont know whats good and what isn’t unless their market research dept tells them. 😛

At least WB is starting to get it. If they really want to get into this and if they want me to pay for something limited and I already get for unlimited for free they’re going to need to offer faster speed than normal bittorrent (by using their own high speed seeds) and drop that price to about $2 or $3. Any more than that is being greedy.

Shawn Fumo says:

Yeah, but I’d still rather go with a legit service than one that basically uses a loop-hole to get away with illegal activity (it isn’t like allofmp3 is getting permission to put that stuff up there).

For music, I’m mostly using eMusic at this point (and sometimes Magnatune). The price is cheap enough for me to experiment (about 25 cents a song) and the format is good (192vbr mp3s). I wish it was pay-as-you-go instead of subscription, but other than that it is quite nice..

Part of what it illustrates (since eMusic only carries indie labels) is that one needs to go a little further outside the box. Everyone always complains about the RIAA and MPAA and then just goes and steals their stuff. But those two organizations certainly don’t represent all the music or movies that are out there.

I’d much rather support the people that are trying to do the right thing instead of just steal from the big guys. If they can become successful (and eMusic is the second most popular service after iTunes according to their press releases at least) maybe it’ll eventually force the big guys to change or at least make it harder to justify that their way of doing things is the only way..

A good side effect has been me finding a lot of great music I never would have heard of if I just kept using things like MTV as a source. The people who always complain “there’s no good music being made any more” just aren’t looking in the right places..

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