Only Hollywood Would Think That This 'Disc To Digital' Program Makes Sense

from the wow dept

Michael Weinberg, over at Public Knowledge, has an absolutely brutal takedown of Warner Bros. new “disc-to-digital” program, which lets you bring DVDs you already own into a store, who will then “handle the digital conversion” and give you back a digital file. Of course, Public Knowledge has been petitioning the Librarian of Congress for a rather simple exception to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision that would let people rip their DVDs to digital files. And while the text of Weinberg’s writeup is worth reading, it’s summarized so nicely in this graphic, that we’ll just post that instead:

If you want to go through the text version of the takedown, head on over

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Companies: warner bros.

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Comments on “Only Hollywood Would Think That This 'Disc To Digital' Program Makes Sense”

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Tim K (profile) says:

allowing consumers to convert their libraries ?easily, safely and at reasonable prices.?

That seems to contradict their program. As the second part of the illustration demonstrates that is how to satisfy all of the above. Anything that requires me to do more work, is not easy, and paying for something I can already do with something I already bought cannot be reasonably price. And where does safety come in? Will I hurt myself when I rip something myself? Requiring me to leave my house and drive somewhere is definitely not as safe as sitting in my computer chair.

Rikuo (profile) says:

The reason this will fail and fail hilariously is one simple thing: every time some new initiative like this is proposed, it contains, at its core, the fact that the movie studios feel an addictive NEED to maintain control over the process.
As the graphic shows, anyone can rip DVDs at home, but the studios need to maintain control over that, so managed to make doing that illegal.
Every single venture like this (DRM, Ultra-violet, DVD/Blu-ray with Digital Copy included) fail, have always failed and will always fail, because of the mentality of maintaining control. The ludicrousness of today’s copyright laws (i.e. laws that attempt to control how a machine that fundamentally copies and nothing else can only copy certain things) is just the symptom of this mindset.
We have machines that can play back any image or sound we choose. All we have to do is feed the instructions into the machine. But no, we’re told, that’s evil and dangerous. You must only do it from this pre-approved list and must pay to receive the instructions.
This mindset will attempt to kill the Star Trek-style replicator, should it ever be invented.
Instead of machines that are being used to their fullest potential, we have laws mandating exactly how they are to be used. We have double dipping (and sometimes even more) e.g., buying a PC Blu-ray drive and Blu-ray movie disc, only to find out you also need to purchase an authorized program to play it back (this happened to me, and I wasn’t expecting it, since there have been free DVD player programs for years).

Anonymous Coward says:

You missed the best quote from the article

“The potential audience is huge, the Warner executive said, given that about 10 billion DVDs have been sold in the U.S. and another 10 billion overseas.”

I don’t know about you, but 20 billion of anything seems like a lot of something. Especially when you consider that is over a 14 year period(ish). The way they spin it, they make it sounds like they never sell any DVDs at all these days.

Also no one seemed to spot the big problem here. What shops are going to do this? Electronic Stores? Doubtful, they would rather sell you an extra disc. Grocery/Convience(sp?) stores? Oh yeah because every one there is versed in technology.

This also forgets to mention the fact that a hacker could just embed the meta data the machine gives to any copy they make. Rip it your self, add a modified signature, BAM, all your DVD transcribed from a Disc to your Hard Drive.

Just ignore the fact that it is already in a digital format, and you are paying for some one else to do the copy for you.

Anonymous Coward says:


“have always failed and will always fail, because of the mentality of maintaining control.”

You are wrong here, they fail because the standards that allow for the disc to be played are based on the chips that can be gotten for cheap. So you can just use a more powerful computer to do it for you. Also to maintain usability across the board, newer players must use the same instruction set.

They would be better off giving the customers an h264 mp4 of the movie unlocked with the audio/subtitle sub tracks. Just make sure it is just the movie portion. No need to have special features. If i want to watch those i am going to grab the disc anyway. Ripping a DVD takes a fair amount of time. Copying from a DVD to drive is a lot easier and would increase my willingness to buy a DVD instead of renting/getting it mailed to me.

Also since we are using the standard mp4 format, we can fit it nicely on a standard size DVD. We can also convert it to other formats that suit individual devices easily using Handbrake. Alas this would only add the customer experience and we can not let that happen.

blatanville (profile) says:

Faster Service

excellent point: why don’t they just let you load the disc into your machine at home, get a fingerprint from the disc and your computer, and deliver a digital copy with DRM whose key is based on the fingerprints?

but again, this all speculation based on what COULD be done, and we still have no reason to accept that this needs to be done at all, amirite?

TDR says:

Darth Lamar: *bows* What is thy bidding, my master?
Emperor Dodd: There is a great disturbance in the world.
Darth Lamar: I have felt it.
Emperor Dodd: We have a new enemy. Digital technology.
Darth Lamar: Yes, my master.
Emperor Dodd: It could destroy us.
Darth Lamar: It’s just a format. Megaupload can no longer help it.
Emperor Dodd: The people are strong with it. Our content must not escape our control.
Darth Lamar: If it could be locked down, it can be controlled.
Emperor Dodd: Yes, yes, it could be so secured. Can it be done?
Darth Lamar: Content will be ours or die, master.

Doug B (profile) says:

You missed the best quote from the article

This will generate a whole new concept movie shop. A place that sells DVDs/BluRays etc and the Digital conversion service together. I can see it now. You go there to buy your movie and they then offer to digitize it for you for a small fee. Perhaps they offer volume discounts – i.e. buy three movies get free digitization!

Then you get to stand there and open your brand new DVD and hand it over so they can put it on the cloud for you. You actually end up walking away with no physical need for a disc, seems like a fabulous deal to me!

Anonymous Coward says:

You missed the best quote from the article

Oh yeah because i trust all the people at best buy to A) Do a job right B) Do it in a decent time and C) For a reasonable price.

Also I am sure i want a company that is subsidized by Current/Former executives of Microsoft. They only thing they have going is that they are not subsidized by apple, at least to my knowledge.


Anonymous Coward says:

Faster Service

Because then it would be as annoying as Adobe Acrobat’s ‘authorize/deauthorize’ licensing mess.

If you have the full version of Acrobat on your computer, and your hard drive crashes, you install a new one, and you attempt to put the full version back on your computer, since you didn’t ‘deauthorize’ the license, you end up having to spend forever on the phone w/ Adobe to get it to where you can use the software again.

Which is why we are no longer using Adobe Acrobat for pdf files.

Tim K (profile) says:

You missed the best quote from the article

Lol, well while anyone who is semi-knowledgeable knows that they are a bunch of dishonest thieves who will take your pictures and other files they like, that would not stop them from adding this to there already crappy Geek Squad services, and charging ridiculous amounts. And unfortunately I’m sure there are people who would use it too.

Anonymous Coward says:

You missed the best quote from the article

“And unfortunately I’m sure there are people who would use it too.”

If you change “I’m sure” to “I know without a doubt”, that statement would be more accurate.

Every time I run into people who tell me oh I took my computer to Geek Squad I just inwardly groan, then explain to them (before they have a chance to tell me what was done or how much they paid) that they got ripped off and that for maybe a fifth of whatever they did get charged, I would’ve done the same work in less time.

Then again, I actually make it a point to find out what Geek Squad charges for what services. That way I can then tell people who come to me those prices for said services and point out that I am the better choice. I’m a one man operation, but I guarantee my work no matter what. Unless you f*ck something up after the fact, no free fixes for your own mistakes/stupdity. That’s my rule.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just rip your damned DVDs yourself. I garantee you they wouldnt even come after you if they found out about it. They are too afraid of what will happen if they try to prosecute people for making backup copies or moving their content to other platforms they will never prosecute it. The ruling would come down that it is perfectly acceptable to make backup copies, and then they would be screwed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


They can’t digitize DVDs that they don’t have permission to, that’s copyright infringement and that’s illegal.

Strictly speaking, that’s not so. In the absence of copy protection, you can legally digitize DVDs you own all day long. You just can’t distribute the files seperately from the disc.

So I could give my DVD to a third party, they could convert it, then give me back the DVD and all copies they made and be within the law. Or I could just do it myself at home.

The tricky part is that the DMCA makes it illegal to break copy protection even if you have the legal right to make copies. That’s the bit that would break the law, unless an exemption is granted.

Anonymous Coward says:

(1976) VHS released to the public. Not without a battle of course Sony has gained through legislative means the power to have a monopoly on Japan using the Betamax format JVC fought back.

(1996) DVD is introduced to the market.

(2001) HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc.

But note that, those are not the only formats launched, there is a trail of failures before each new standard starts to get some traction in the market, with the exception of the Bluray which was not something decided by the market but by a coalition of companies and still didn’t catch up with the DVD.

Leaving the conspiracy theories behind of why people keep putting out formats and trying to make those the dominant one, here is the thing, because there are so many formats today, if people were to fallow the law to the letter, they would need to buy on machine for each format available and have many devices to play each format, that obviously isn’t going to happen people either will buy at most one or two or use one device that can play them all.

The Irony in this jungle of formats is that it motivated people to find a common solution that could attend to that need, people found a universal player and that is a computer and with smartphones becoming ubiquitous and Raspberry PI costing only $35 one can see what is happening.

People are no longer limited by one device they can have it all in one, what most people doesn’t know is that there is no difference between hardware and software aside that one is implemented physically and the other is in code, it took decades for people to realize what computer and engineers already knew. You can build your on VCR or DVD or Bluray or whatever device you want in software, there is no going back to physical stores anymore that need was killed off by the very industry that wanted to capitalize on new formats and slashed the release cycle to do so.

Explain to people why they should pay for a Bluray player when they can just dump the data and play it with a $35 dollar costing device?

That is why digital files are so popular that is why nobody is going back to single user devices.

Now there is a catch, every time you encode something it loses quality do it enough times and it will be as bad as a damaged VHS tape, but people don’t realize that formats fade away and could be unreadable in a few years so they don’t have a need today to find a lossless video format, for music that already happened FLAC will encode the sounds losslessly and everybody can just use “select a folder for conversion” and it will do it for you in minutes because music take so much less space.

Another problem is how do you store that data safely, if it is all in one HDD if it breaks you lose everything, but if you use something like a Drobo it becomes less but it is expensive, so there is RAID + Virtual Filesystems that can do something similar but they are still complicated and buying 2 drives to make a backup copy seems expensive, so what people do? They rely on others to have the same things and trade between them since 80% of the people are in the low wage section of the societal pyramid one can be sure that this behavior is wide spread because it saves financial resources, but some have noticed that those people can pay for it and capture a lot of pennies from a lot of people and more importantly in a way that encourages reoccurring expending by using ultra low prices and supplementing that income with ad revenue, that is exactly what the entertainment industry and artists in general will never understand but will be forced to accept sometime in the future no matter how much they complain, is not about one or two songs, is about setting the price at $0.001 so the people can enjoy more media then never before, spend money without noticing how much they spend and don’t getting afraid of “bill shock” kind of things and becoming comfortable in using a cloud storage to backup their own collections, which already can be done on the cheap with things like GmailFS which is a virtual filesystem that uses Gmail accounts to store data. You can do that to any webmail service out there is like writing an email manager (aka: Outlook, Thunderbid, Evolution, etc), but instead of sending mail you are sending encrypted chunks of data that are parts of your filesystem. So there is window here a very brief one, if the entertainment industry doesn’t start offering those things quickly people will figure it out how to do it on their own and inertia will work against them again just like it is working against them with the “piracy” fantasy they created which is the market telling them you forgot about a large segment of the population and let them on their own and they found a way now they teach other how it is done and they are not going to comeback to do it in a more difficult way just because you want them too, that ain’t happening.

Khory (profile) says:

Faster Service

No to the DRM! I’d like to be able to stream it from my NAS to my Boxee box. Or play it on my mobile phone. Or play it next year on whatever device I decide to buy.

Over-complicating this with DRM, special shops, etc is just going to make illegal measures more appealing. Especially if there is no good reason why making a copy with my pc is illegal. I already own the disc in this scenario so why does it matter?

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve got a question: After the “conversion”, where does the file go? Do you need to bring a thumb drive or something? Do they rip the files from a DVD, put them on a second DVD, and then give you two identical DVDs? Do they e-mail you a torrent file?
Does warner Bros. think that “computer files” are physical objects that people can put into a grocery bag and carry home? Is that why they think people can steal them?

Anonymous Coward says:


Myself and Karl were just discussing them the other day in I forget which article. It was that lawsuit, which was heavily stacked against who was already being labeled as expressly contributing and allowing copyright infringement, that can be directly pointed to as the event that set cloud computing and storage behind by over a decade. We’re just now catching up to where we should’ve been a little over a decade ago, if things had been allowed to progress naturally that is. And once again, cloud storage is being attacked, this time more directly (as was the case with Megaupload) as opposed to letigiously (as was the case with

Anonymous Coward says:

and explain to me yet again, please,

1) why the hell anyone would want to get a movie digitized when they already have it on disk?

2)why the hell should anyone have to PAY AGAIN to have a movie they already own digitized?

3)why should anyone be charged/have to pay for a second copy of their bought movie, simply because it’s in a different format (a format that would have been bought originally, instead of a disc, had it been available!)

Apollis (profile) says:

This is what I think will happen. You’ll go to the WB store (think Disney store, but the only place where you can get WB movies when they release, a whopping 180 days before all the other stores get them to sell, and 2 years before you can rent from Redbox). The “Authorized” WB clerk will take your DVD and scan the barcode on his computer. You play the clerk and he disappears into the Digital Magic Room to “convert” and “upload” your movie to the cloud. A few minutes later he comes back, all flushed and excited, because, it worked and it was safe! He then proceeds to hand you your DVD and a slip of paper with your 25 key code and instructions on how to access your new “digtial” version of your movie. Now you go home and follow the directions and guess what! You log into Ultraviolet and enter your code. You, you guessed it. Another ploy to get us to use Ultraviolet.

PaulT (profile) says:


“1) why the hell anyone would want to get a movie digitized when they already have it on disk?”

To play on portable devices and/or media centres in the same way as people digitise their CDs to listen to on iPods. It’s much easier to store a few hundred movies on XBMC than on a shelf, and people with kids don’t have to risk potentially expensive damage when their kid wants to watch The Lion King for the 500th time. Nobody with an iPad wants to carry around a portable DVD player just so they can watch a movie… and so on…

“2)why the hell should anyone have to PAY AGAIN to have a movie they already own digitized?”

Because the RIAA is concerned that they might be losing money on DVD sales and so wish to bleed as much as they can from the customers they still have before they have to actually innovate.

“3)why should anyone be charged/have to pay for a second copy of their bought movie, simply because it’s in a different format (a format that would have been bought originally, instead of a disc, had it been available!)”

Again, because the RIAA want you to. Like the music industry, the movie industry managed to get comfortable for a few decades by selling the same thing over and over every time a new format came out, even double- and triple-dipping on the same format. They just want to keep doing that over and over.

Ninja (profile) says:

Faster Service

get a fingerprint from the disc and your computer

Fail. I changed the hardware of my computer 4 times in 3 years mainly by adding memory, 4 HDDs and 1 new video card. DRM is fail. And imagine if I want to transfer it to my notebook to plug the HDMI in the living room and watch it in my gigantic tv?

Just make the disc DRM free and let the consumers rip it effortless. DRM is cancer and should be forbidden by law.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


Copyright sure is confusing.

To you and me, yes.

To the copyright maximalists, everything is simple. You pay the gatekeeper the taxes they are owed, and then you go on your way (with or without the product they “sold” you.)

Where “sold” being “leased” when it comes time to pay the artists, since they don’t have to pay the artists if they haven’t sold anything. Or was it the other way around. Its all so damn confusing.


Triple edged sword

Most of the trouble dealing with ripping video media derives from the fact that there is DRM involved and that the industry successfully lobbied Congress to make cracking tools illegal. If you could rip stuff in iTunes, it would be a lot less of a bother. All of the transcoding and metadata management would be nicely automated.

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