Netflix Streams Movies… At No Extra Cost

from the well,-they-fixed-the-costly-part dept

In 2004, everyone was buzzing about how Netflix was going to begin experimenting with movie downloads, even though it seemed like a cumbersome process to convince Hollywood studios to license their movies. A year later, in fact, Netflix told the world that they had put the plan on hold, saying that it was too difficult to work with the movie studios who kept demanding stronger copy protection. Apparently, though, Netflix quietly kept up the work in the background, and are now beginning to roll out an option for some users to immediately stream a small selection of movies. It’s streaming, not downloading, which probably helps deal with some of the industry’s copy protection worries. It’s also using Microsoft’s copy protection, which limits what kind of setup you need to have to watch the content (and you’ll only be able to watch it on a PC for now). While the company is touting that it’s really quick to install the necessary software, the New York Times reporter who tried it found that the install didn’t work properly due to conflicts involving Microsoft’s DRM technology (surprise, surprise). All in all, it doesn’t sound like it’s really solved the technical hurdles all of the other poorly implemented movie download sites face — but it does have one big advantage over all of those sites: no additional fees. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you get a certain allotment of hours which you can stream to your computer at no additional charge. That, alone, may be the point that saves this offering from going completely nowhere. However, the technical limitations are likely to keep the market fairly small for quite some time.

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Comments on “Netflix Streams Movies… At No Extra Cost”

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Araemo says:

Re: Fun fun

VLC at least won’t do encrypted microsoft streams, only the older ones that weren’t encrypted, and relied on the player to ‘prevent’ you from saving them. There have been ways to get at those streams for years and years.. (Hint: You just download it with a browser that doesn’t support WMP. ;P However, finding the URL could sometimes be the challenge.)

Ty says:

Re: Fun fun

As there exist several utilities now (SDP Downloader, VLC) to save Microsoft streams, this is a perfect way to get unencrypted AVI files suitable for burning to DVD or sharing. Thanks, netflix!

Isn’t it funny that the very first post was how to exploit the streaming process to make copies of the movies?

I know, I know, it’s not stealing, you’re forced to do it because DRM has made your life miserable. Yeah right, try to sell me a bridge in Brooklyn too. I agree with fritzbrown #7, just call it what it is, stealing. And to those of you who say it’s not stealing, next time you get on your P2P site to download a movie or song, invite a couple of MPAA or RIAA lawyers over and ask for their opinion. I’m not saying it’s right that the situation is what it is, but the laws are currently on their side (when they actually sue the right person).

No matter how you try to polish it, calling what a huge segment of the computer community does with torrents and P2P anything but stealing is euphamistic at best. No matter how cheap or convenient services (like NetFlix) and the industry make it to get movies legitimately, there will still be people like this guy who look for a way to circumvent the system. Why wouldn’t you? Anyway, let the “Most people do it because DRM forces them to or prices are just out of control” self-delusions continue.

mikey says:

what netflix should prolly do..

(or some content provider for that matter) is give a false sense of security to the entertainment industry. Like, say Netflix releases this stream or whatever they decide to do. They could give it some insanely easy hurdle to overcome so people could still “copy” it without much effort. This would basically beat the MPAA at their own game of copy protection sillyness.

What difference would it really make anyway? I mean if I’m copying a movie and paying for a service, is it still stealing? Or maybe a better question to ask is how would you steal from a service that you’re paying for?? What are they even worried about?

fritzbrown says:

Re: what netflix should prolly do..

Hey mikey, you’re paying to view the movie not copy it. So, yes it is stealing.

Why don’t you just admit that you torrent movies, despite it being wrong, instead of trying to justify it with lame arguments. I have already crossed that moral line, won’t you join me?

mikey says:

Re: Re: what netflix should prolly do..

It’s not that i’m not willing to admit it. I’m more than happy to buy movies if I like them. Copying isn’t illegal, it’s redistributing copies that is illegal. But the entertainment industry if fighting the copying part, not the redistribution part. By fighting the copying, all they’re doing is making things more difficult for legit consumers.

It’s not like they could legitimately complain about a loss if I were to keep a library of my store bought movies and music on my computer, but they don’t want that. They’d rather me buy their media and their equipment to use play it, instead of using my own equipment. It’s because of that, that I’m inclined to piracy.

The infamous Joe says:

Theft of nothing.

It’s *not* stealing. Stealing implies that you have taken something from someone– but you are going to return their DvD, safe and sound. It’s copyright infringement, sure, but *not* theft.

The reason you should all care is because theft is a criminal offense, and copyright infringement is a civil one.

Come back across that moral line, to my side, full of correct terminology.

Brad Waddell says:


I think Vongo has a better model than Netflix – they figured out that they could take all of the 2500 movies licensed to Starz TV networks and make them available for download to any device that could ensure they would time out when their contract for showing that movie ended – laptops, portables, cell phones, whatever. I think this will be what people want, and at less than $10 a month, it’s a screaming deal.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Vongo

Vongo’s selection leaves much to be desired, and at the same price I get get netflicks or Blockbuster and record the DvDs… and watch them again later.

I got a free month subscription to Vongo with my computer– but after browsing the selection, I decided it wasn’t worth my time.

Vongo has the right idea, but doesn’t give enough freedom with the medium– which of course is the root problem with most every form of digital media services these days.

chris (profile) says:

i hope someone gets it right

it would be nice to get access to movies when they come out instead of having to go thru the typical video store logistical hurdles.

right now, i rent movies from blockbuster online. they give you three movies at a time, plus one coupon per week to use at the video store. also, they let you take the discs that you get thru the mail in to the store to swap for a free rental. in my opinion, it’s the best system available, but it’s not perfect.

i can use the online system to search for older films and TV series that i either can’t find/don’t bother to look for at the video store and i go to the store for new releases or changes in plans (rainy day kids movies and the like). the problem with new releases is that the really new ones are tough to get a hold of the first couple of weeks after they drop, be that online or in the video store.

it would be nice to just stream/download the really new stuff, go to the store for changes of plans, and use the queue system for everything else.

i am not talking about buying or otherwise obtaining the film, i just want to watch it and be done, like i do with 85% of the movies that i rent.

there are a handful that are good enough to obtain copies of (ripped, downloaded, or purchased from the used/bargain bin) and only the really great ones (LOTR, POTC, etc.) truly justify the purchase of a retail DVD or box set.

BK1 says:

Tattle-tail copy awareness... NOT protection.

Instead of protecting the file so that it can only be watched by certain players within certain technologies, why not force the download though a distribution channel that encrypts a private key into the file identifying the user who downloaded it.

If that file is found on file sharing networks, etc.. the distributor can easily look in the file for who is responsible for illegal distribution of the file.

That would make it much easier to identify the source of the illegal activity and the distribution channel can identify, press charges against and ban the culprit accordingly.

This would also allow legit users who have rights to the file to do whatever they want with it on their own technology.

Keeping the encrypted tags hidden within a huge media file is WAY easier than all the other DRM nonsense that is going on today.

If your media is lost or stolen, or there is a breach where your ID is being used to download files. This can be reported to the distrubution channel and a new ID can be issued to the individual and now the old ID is flagged as fraud.

Diabolik says:


This is available now if you have a subscription. At least it is for me.

Minimum Requirements

* Computer running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher, or Windows Vista
* Internet Explorer version 6 or higher
* Windows Media Player version 9 or higher
* An active broadband connection to the Internet
* 1.0 GHz processor
* 512 MB RAM
* 3 GB free hard disk drive space

Recommended in addition to minimum requirements

* An active broadband Internet connection of at least 1.5 Mbps
* 1.5 GHz processor
* 1 GB RAM

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