Warner Bros. Hates Libraries, Wants To Embargo DVD Sales To Libraries For A Month

from the oh-come-on dept

The movie studios’ short-sightedness knows no bounds, apparently. Warner Bros., which has been the most aggressive of the big movie studios in getting companies like Netflix and Redbox not to rent its movies until 28-days after they go on sale, has now decided to do the same thing for libraries, putting in place a 28-day embargo on all DVD sales to libraries, from the time of the DVD release. To make it even more obnoxious, they’re removing bonus features and extras from movies sold to libraries.

Here’s the thing, though. What’s to stop a library from just buying an official version and lending it out? The whole thing is pretty silly anyway. Is Warner Bros. really thinking that if someone can’t take out one of its movies from the library, that they’ll really go buy the DVD from WB? Also, doesn’t this seem like a form of price fixing?

In the end, though, it’s unlikely to actually help. Slightly more enlightened studios, such as Paramount, actually tested such 28-delays and looked at the data, which said Netflix and Redbox don’t cannibalize sales, and appear to “expand” the movie business. Too bad Warner Bros. hasn’t seen that movie yet. Perhaps they’re still waiting for the 28-day delay to pass.

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Companies: warner bros.

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Comments on “Warner Bros. Hates Libraries, Wants To Embargo DVD Sales To Libraries For A Month”

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Jeff (profile) says:

Libraries generally don’t have the cash to go our and purchase new releases anyway. I picture the librarians shrugging and going about their business. People who can’t afford or justify the $50 to purchase the retail version will now have to get their fix from somewhere else. Since Warner already cut their nose off with Netflix and Redbox… hmm I wonder where that will leave them…

heyidiot (profile) says:

Re: Just released

“Libraries generally don’t have the cash to go our and purchase new releases anyway.”

Perhaps surprisingly, you’d be pretty much wrong about that.

The only way I see movies now is by getting them from the library, and they show up there just as quickly as they do in the stores. We will routinely look at the “Just Released” or “Coming Soon” lists published on various sites, and go to our local library web site and put a hold on things we like, and nine times out of ten, the library has them or is in the process of getting them.

We’re nowhere near the only ones that do that. Typically our county library will get ten to twenty copies of a new release, and they’ll all disappear into hold-queues for months before you ever see them on the library shelf.

I don’t live in a particularly affluent area; the library gets by somehow, and they DO know what butters their bread – satisfied patrons – and they are willing to spend to keep them that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

The best part isn’t even in your description, Mike. Ars quotes:

“The question is: how do we make ownership more valuable and attractive?” Warner Bros. Home Entertainment President Kevin Tsujihara told the Financial Times. “We have started the process of creating a window in bricks-and-mortar DVD and Blu-ray rental.”

I laughed for a solid minute at how badly he missed the point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yup, answer myself:

“In addition to being released 28 days after the retail version, Warner?s rental version DVDs and Blu-rays will not contain bonus features or extras. However, we understand that there will be a significant price reduction for these products, apparently amounting to an average $4 per DVD title and $8 per Blu-ray title “

it would appear to be a good deal for the libraries, considering restrained budgets, and obviously they aren’t in the “latest release” commercial war.

John Doe says:

28 days is no big deal to me

While I think it is a stupid move to make libraries and rental services wait 28 days, it is no big deal to me. I just queue them up and rent them once they are available. It hasn’t caused me to consider purchasing even for a minute. If a movie is that good I will see it in the theater. If not, I can wait an extra 28 days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Collecting movies on a physical medium is a relic of the past. The numbers show that a large percentage of people have not jumped on the Blu-Ray bandwagon. While short-sighted companies like Warner Bros insist this is due to Internet piracy and rental joints cannibalizing their physical disc sales, the truth is that people are suck and tired of having to re-buy movies and music that they have already paid for on an older format. My parents have 100’s of useless VHS tapes. I personally will never buy physical media ever again. Most people in my generation or the up and coming generation feel exactly the same way. I know I haven’t stated anything new here that hasn’t been said before but it needs to be reiterated until the Baby Boomer generation that is currently running the show gets it. Your business model is dead, dead, dead. No matter what laws are passed to prop up your dying business, my generation will undue these laws once we take over. Suckle at the government teat while you can, your time is running out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, I understand that absolute power corrupts absolutely. My intent behind stating that is that the people running the show at these corporations and in the government are mostly Baby Boomers or older, none of which even understand the problem at hand with their business models or legislation. It will take Gen X’ers getting into power to undo all the damage our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers are causing to the Internet. My parents can barely turn a computer on, I certainly wouldn’t let them tell me what I can and can’t do on the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And to further that, the actions of Hollywood and the music industry are creating a bad taste in the mouths of Gen X’ers and below, the very same people these industries will need need to bribe in the future to ram through their protectionist regulations. I’d like to think that the seeds they are sowing in the minds of the next ruling generation will come back to bite them on their ass when it comes time for them to provide “campaign contributions” in return for legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do have to add one thing to the discussion here.

I have to say it is entirely amusing to watch a people who have stated over and over again in different threads that they aren’t ever going to buy “hollywood’s shit”, complaining about release windows. This to me is the key in any discussion here, because while you guys may dump all over the stuff, you are in fact Hollywood movie consumers. If you were not, you would just say “good move, hope you are out of business soon” and go back and watch whatever the “Sita Sings the Blues” replacement of a month is.

The reality? You are Hollywood movie consumers, and this stuff bothers you because it hurts your enjoyment of the product (and perhaps makes it a little harder to find a decent DVD rip to download).

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The reality? You are Hollywood movie consumers, and this stuff bothers you because it hurts your enjoyment of the product (and perhaps makes it a little harder to find a decent DVD rip to download).

About goddamn time. We are the consumers. They are hurting our enjoyment of their product.

Welcome to our side of the debate, my friend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It only hurts your enjoyment of the product because you want it “NOW NOW NOW!”, and are unwilling to wait. Sort of like the people who go in McDonalds and then bitch because their Big Mac didn’t come out in 20 seconds.

You can’t buy something before it is on the market. Enjoy it when it is available. Otherwise, you can sit now and watch it on your Iphone 5 over the 6G wireless network.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I only want it when it’s ready. Are you saying the movie isn’t ready the day after release?

To use your example: How do you think McDonalds would do, from a business standpoint, if they insisted that you wait 2.8 hours for your McRib, after it was cooked, because they didn’t want to canabalize their burger sales and some marketing guys said that if I’m standing around in a McDonalds waiting for my McRib, I’m more likely to buy a burger. You’d say it was stupid, I bet. My choice to buy one has zero bearing on my choice to buy the other.

To make matters worse, since the 28 day window is fake, i.e., I could go to the store and buy it, it’s available for me to stream free *long* before it is legitimately. That’s called “shooting yourself in the foot” and it’s generally considered a “Bad Thing”.

WB, supporting piracy since 2003.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Actually Joe, I wrote here a long time ago about the reality:

The movie theater release is sort of like a limited engagement preview. The movie is not available by retail at this point. You can pay a higher rate to see the preview.

Then it is released, usually on PPV, and that has a lower rate than the movie, but higher than your typical movie rental.

Then it is released for retail sale to individual customers, not for bulk sales.

Finally, it gets released for sales to rental and libraries, with some features removed, for a price that is significantly lower than retail ($4 – $8 average lower).

As for your McRib example, I invite you to go to your local Mickey D location at 7:45 AM and order a McRib. They will tell you that it isn’t currently available, even if they have everything they need to make it on hand. At 10:30 when they switch to lunch menu, they will make it for you, and give it to you about 2.8 hours after you asked for it.

They aren’t shooting themselves in the foot then, are they?

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Actually Joe, I wrote here a long time ago about the reality:

Prove it. 😉

The movie theater release is [blah blah blah]

You’re telling me how it is, I’m telling you that the way it is is stupid and is pissing off customers. It had it’s time and place, but that is in the past now.

As for your McRib example, I invite you to go to your local Mickey D location at 7:45 AM and order a McRib.

I’m going to ignore the fact that the real reason they don’t serve lunch at breakfast is a lack of space to cook that many things, because I know what you’re getting at.

Running with that scenario: If there was a guy outside selling McRibs during breakfast time, and every time someone asked for a McRib at breakfast and were turned away from McDonalds, they simply went to this guy and got one, who was giving them away for free. Sure, he got the ingridents in a shady manner– they were slipped to him by a McDonalds employee at a McDonalds across town– otherwise they are exactly the same as an official McRib. Most people would still rather get one from McDonalds, but they want a McRib more than they want a McRib from McDonalds. The “from McDonalds” part is desired, but not required.

McDonald’s has two choices: Go after the guy and make him stop giving away McRibs, or give the customer what they want, and sell McRibs for breakfast. The sad truth is, even if they stop the guy from giving away McRibs, there are still people out there who want a McRib for breakfast and they aren’t going to suddenly want a dry and brick-like Egg McMuffin, they want a McRib. They’ll just look for it elsewhere, or go to Taco Bell instead.

In every scenario except one, McDonalds does not come out ahead. The *only* scenario where McDonalds comes out ahead is giving the customer what they want, when they want.

This isn’t rocket science.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not me, I don’t buy Hollywood movies, I don’t download them either, I rarely ever go to the theater (last time was about 3 years ago), I could care less if they go out of business, I won’t miss them at all. I certainly won’t miss their content, it’s not worth watching, let alone paying for.

But I do care about this stuff because when it fails they use it as an excuse to encourage more draconian laws that will take away my freedoms and try to destroy the Internet in the process. I’m sick and tired of businesses I don’t support (and don’t give a damn about) trying to take away my rights because they feel they have some God-given right to make obscene profits without having to adapt with the times.

Of course all you copyright maximalists will refuse to believe that I don’t want their product. Your world view is completely “us vs. them” and if we’re not one of you we’re lying, thieving, stealing jerks who want everything free. You can’t fathom someone thinking your industry’s worthless and not worth supporting (or watching). But we do exist, and we’re freaking sick and tired of you taking away our freedoms because you can’t adapt to changing times.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He said it in the comment, when they fail. Or to put it simply when they (being RIAA/MPAA take your choice) make a business decision that hurts their bottom line: profit. When that happens they come marching out with a PR release how their decisions were really great but becuase of pricacy they lost money. Then they go lobby the government to pass laws to change things in their favor because they don’t know how to run their own business.

His “rights” are the ones that keeps entertainment companies from making decisions on what websites are allowed to exist.

Now what point was the one that you missed?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“you are in fact Hollywood movie consumers’

Occasionally, if the price and conditions are right. Otherwise, I ignore the shit your gods put out in favour of real cinema. I don’t own over 800 DVDs because I want to watch a frigging remake of Footloose for $20… I like some Hollywood movies. I’ve been ripped off over and over again. Being told that a legal preview facility I use isn’t good enough any more because there’s profit to be had makes me less likely to try to uncover the occasional gem.

“go back and watch whatever the “Sita Sings the Blues””

Why is this your default example, as though it’s some kind of insult? I’ll take Sita over Transformers 2 any day of the damn week, and I saw that piece of crap for free as well (legally, before you jump to your usual moron mode).

Seriously, do you have any other examples of a movie you don’t like, or do you just like picking on that one because – at no cost to yourself – you decided to see it after reading about it here…. ooops, that’s word of mouth advertising isn’t it? Can’t have that in Hollywood, we have to restrict everything instead so we “make money”! (warning: money may not actually be forthcoming)

“this stuff bothers you because it hurts your enjoyment of the product”

Yeah, being told I can’t watch a movie until I’m deemed worthy of it for a premium price and only get offered a DRMed to hell copy that I can’t play in half the devices I own and can’t skip the ads/lectures on not pirating the copy I just legally obtained? I wonder why that bothers me…

Of course, if I say “screw that” and watch something else instead, a moron like you comes along and tells me I’m a pirate because the restricted crap failed. Imagine that.

Anonymous Coward says:

OMG – this totally increases the value of ownership for me. I totally get off by driving around libraries holding DVD’s out the window and screaming “I GOTZ SPECIAL FEATURES BEETCHES!”


I’m starting to understand the troll that used to always say that the only people who actually buy versus pirates are idiots.

PaulT (profile) says:

So… 28 day factor aside (which is idiocy anyway – do they think their product is so enticing that people can’t wait 4 weeks?), they’re now going to go through the extra expense of producing additional copies of a feature-free DVD just for libraries that will likely be unsellable for a reasonable price elsewhere if they overstock? On top of that, the jettison any income from people who buy the DVD after seeing it for “free” because there’s a decent documentary or commentary on there (a niche market, I know, but I’ve definitely done that following a rental)?

Yet another sterling example of how the movie industry is creating their own problems. I presume that sales / revenue lost from this will also go into the “OMG pirates are stealing our profits” pile instead of the “yeah, we screwed up” pile.

WhyBother says:

You know the most laughable part? WB doesn’t know how libraries operate. Most libraries probably don’t have lots of copies of any one title of anything. Therefore, you get to be put on a reserve list and may have to wait for the title you want to checkout. Guess who goes to the library to rent movies….patient people who really are going to rent _any_ movie not a _specific_ movie.

Anonymous Coward says:

I manage the DVD purchasing at a mid-size (30,000 pop) library.

Since our usual distributors are prevented from selling to us, we are planning on stopping off at the local store purchasing the DVDs we want and making them available to the public.

Additionally, because these movies won’t be available through the traditional alternative rental means (netflix, red box) demand for these movies is increased and we will purchase more copies than the non-embargoed DVDs. What was a 3-4 copy purchase will probably end up being a 6-10 copy purchase.

This embargo is only hurting the large distributors and certainly doesn’t have any impact on libraries. I’m honestly not sure what WB was hoping to accomplish with this policy.

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