Why Did NBC Make Life Harder For People Who Want To Buy Its Content?

from the disconnect-with-reality dept

It really is amusing to watch how the companies who are most worried about "piracy" (which is a misnomer) always seem to treat their legitimate customers the worst. We've all wondered why the movie companies put up those annoying anti-piracy ads that waste the time of the folks who actually paid. But, what's most amazing is how many of these content companies are so focused on "piracy" that they miss the fact that they need to provide a reasonable experience for people who actually want to purchase their content. Making life difficult is only going to drive those legitimate customer prospects towards the very activity they were most afraid of. Take NBC Universal, for example. The company is so worried about the threat of "piracy" that it's making up ridiculous stories about the harm caused to corn growers due to piracy. However, at the same time, it gets into a petty argument with Apple and pulls all of its content from iTunes -- which is where the majority of folks who wanted to pay for NBC's TV shows would go. The end result? NBC Universal, for all their worries about "piracy," just made life much more difficult for legitimate purchasers, most likely driving some of them to experiment with unauthorized downloads, just to get the content they would have happily paid for. For some reason, you don't seem to see these types of actions from the companies who aren't freaked out about piracy -- but perhaps that's because they know the way to succeed is to offer a better customer experience and more value, rather than worrying so much.


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  1.  
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    sehlat (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    Which pretty much explains Baen Books

    For some reason, you don't seem to see these types of actions from the companies who aren't freaked out about piracy -- but perhaps that's because they know the way to succeed is to offer a better customer experience and more value, rather than worrying so much.

    Baen still gets some piracy, but not nearly as much as the publishers who lock up(or out) their customers with Digital Consumer Disablement technologies. In addition, a lot of the people who come across their stuff free seem to end up going over and buying it, treating it as a "free sample."

    I understand from the publisher that they are one of the few firms showing "modest gains" in an otherwise shrinking market for books. And they're actually (gasp) making money on the electronic books.

    Me, I haven't bought much from other SF publishers in years, but I have paid-for copies of literally everything they've offered since December 1999.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Bought DVDs

    Way back when I could never understand why DVD maker's decided to start putting previews in front of bought DVDs.
    I love them at movie theatres since they give me another glimpse at what is coming.
    But, if I bought a DVD, why would I want previews then?
    In a year the previews are outdated.
    I am a very avid movie buyer too.
    Sometimes I wait until they hit the under 10$ rack or on sale for about that. Other times I go out and buy it day its out (like 300, love that one personally).
    Now not only do we get movie previews that will be outdated in a year (and half the time are for mainstream movies I own as well making them that much more pointless), they add in ads for Do not Pirate this, and You Shouldn't Steal movies or anything, or advertisements for the soundtrack.
    Those are horrible. Why would I EVER want to see those every time I start up a DVD?????
    The best idea that they almost never seem to have is to put the previews on as a separate menu item, and let me select them off of the menu or sub menu of special features. That would be cool. I wouldn't mind having them there. I would watch them once if I don't already own the movie, and then I wouldn't have to waste my time skipping them every time after that I watch the film.
    Although, I still would not want stupid ads in a special menu. After all, I already bought the freaking DVD, so of course I am not pirating the film, because I JUST BOUGHT IT.

    There is 1 course of action, that I take regardless.
    I back up my movies.
    I take my time and money to buy all of the DVDs and am somewhat of a preservationist about stuff like this, my movies and games.
    So, when I go to make my backup copy of the movie that I will use so the original can sit there on the shelf in pristine condition, I remove all that extra shit.
    I take my time and remove all the previews and ads, but leave the movie, its menus, and all relevant special features.
    Then life is peachy keen.
    =)
    Sorry, just had to vent about the stupidity of ads and previews on a bought DVD.
    I have many a DVD from the time before they did that shit.

     

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    Akai, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    NBC

    Who watches NBC anyways? CBS is better by a longshot.

     

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    Ed, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    There is a little more to than piracy.

    I believe that NBC also wanted to increase the money they were were getting per episode, which according to Apple would increase the price to something like $5 an episode. Considering the fact that a typical season of DVDs cost ~$35 for ~20 episodes, $5 an episode is outrageous. $35 is a little high, but doable, $20 would be better. Why is it so hard for MPAA/RIAA members to get the concept that a low price, would encourage people to buy things, even if there are free alternatives (Legal ones like VCR, TIVO, etc). NBC's Heroes is an example. I had the last six episodes sitting on my TIV0, waiting to get watched. When I saw the DVDs at the store, I just bought them. At $5 an episode, I would not even consider it.

     

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    dataGuy (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    Downloading illegal copies is still wrong

    "Making life difficult is only going to drive those legitimate customer prospects towards the very activity they were most afraid of."

    I’m sure there are people who rationalize their downloading illegal copies this way. I’ve seen Mike use this line more and more often, of late, and feel that in some way he is providing cover for “pirates”.

    If I can’t get what I want, when I want it, at a price I’m willing to pay then I go without. I’d rather see Mike reference lost of market size and market share rather than increasing pressure to “pirate” as the main penalty for treating one’s customers like criminals.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:50am

    Why does Apple make it hard for consumers to buy their products if they don't live near an Apple store?

     

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    Anti-Randomthoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    It is called the Apple Store. I don't believe it is that hard to get to.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Apple Store? Depends on where you live, doesn't it?

     

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    Mike (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Downloading illegal copies is still wrong

    I’m sure there are people who rationalize their downloading illegal copies this way. I’ve seen Mike use this line more and more often, of late, and feel that in some way he is providing cover for “pirates”.

    How could I possibly be providing cover? I have no say in the matter whatsoever. Sharing unauthorized content is wrong. there's a half decent chance that it will get you into trouble with the law. I don't do it and never have.

    That's besides the point. I'm wondering why NBC, who is so concerned about these so called pirates, keeps making life more difficult for those who want to actually pay for their content? It doesn't make any sense to me.

    See the example of Baen books above. There's a company that hasn't worried about "pirates," gives its content away for free, and greatly profits from that experience.

    From the producer's perspective, if you can give stuff away free, generate a lot more interest, make people a lot happier and still make a lot of money, why would you go in the other direction?

     

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    Mike (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:05pm

    Re:

    Why does Apple make it hard for consumers to buy their products if they don't live near an Apple store?

    They do? Since when? You can buy most of their products online or at other retailers Apple has partnered with. Beyond that, Apple has increasingly opened more stores and signed more partnerships, increasingly making it easier for people to buy its stuff.

    That's the opposite with NBC, who is making it harder.

     

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    Terry & the Pirates, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    Oh My

    I just feel so silly. I always thought NBC was an acronym for Nothing But Commercials. I had no idea it actually had content worth taking.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:17pm

    I tried to buy some content online...

    ... but couldn't because I was apparently in the wrong geographic area. So I just downloaded it off BitTorrent and the content maker got nothing.

    I'd be happy to pay for content as long as I can get it in a format that's not DRM'd and won't expire.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:20pm

    So there are more places that you can buy an Apple computer than there was in 1999?

    Maybe NBC wants to build up its own website to generate revenue, why would they want Apple controlling and owning the customer while at the same time dictating prices?

     

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    Wolfger, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Downloading illegal copies is still wrong

    dataGuy, It's just human nature. People want what they want, and if they can get it illegally with a small chance of being caught, but they can't get it legally, then most people hoist that Jolly Roger. For NBC (or any other company) to make it MORE DIFFICULT to legally purchase their product is just the height of stupidity.

     

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    TheDock22, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    I'd be happy to pay for content as long as I can get it in a format that's not DRM'd and won't expire.

    Or you could quit using that as an excuse for illegal activity and either buy the DVDs or go without...

     

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    gijoe, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    This fight is really about HDTV. TV people want to charge more for HDTV then regular TV. So they are getting the public ready. Just like they are bundling multiple channels and raising the price of sports channels thru the roof. Because they have been getting away with this kind of collusion for so long it is natural to try with Apple. Thanks fully FCC just passed a la carte cable rules, so may be some cable channels can now die their deserved death.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    Can't get the content on DVD or any other media. The only way you can get it is by downloading it illegally or moving to another continent.

    Sure, it's illegal (but who lobbied for the laws?), but f-them if they won't give you a chance to pay for it.

    It's pretty much exactly the same thing as setting the speed limit at 55 when everyone is driving 70. If YOU were prosecuted for all the laws you knowingly and unknowingly break everyday, well, you'd probably wind up in jail.

    Besides, almost all content content creators use P2P and other online outlets to generate buzz for the stuff, often by releasing 'illegal' works to these outlets. I should know, I used to work for a large music company doing exactly that....

     

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    Jim Klaas, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    iTunes NBC

    I don't have a TV haven't had one in a long time. I HATE DVDs and CDs, and happily spend money on iTunes. I wish and hope the selection of movies increases but for now, I will watch what is offered on iTunes and ignore the rest. If NBC wants to try and Bluff Steve Jobs, good luck....I suspect they will not succeed. I suscpect NBC is trying to find a way to save face and get back on iTunes right now. I buy all my software, I buy all my shows and movies, I don't have time to screw around with other sites ....my suggestion, tap off a letter to NBC and tell them to stop messing around and get a clue, iTunes WON...there really isn't even anybody in the race.

    Jim

     

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    TheDock22, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    Can't get the content on DVD or any other media. The only way you can get it is by downloading it illegally or moving to another continent.

    So go without. Doing something illegally is not a morally right thing to do. Fight the laws with petitions and bans, not by putting yourself at risk with a "well I want it that's why" attitude.

    Plus I'm not sure what content you want that you can't buy on a DVD or CD somewhere online and have shipped (that is not free already). Maybe there is a good reason it is banned?


    It's pretty much exactly the same thing as setting the speed limit at 55 when everyone is driving 70. If YOU were prosecuted for all the laws you knowingly and unknowingly break everyday, well, you'd probably wind up in jail.


    Luckily I go the speed limit all the time (well, maybe a little slower when the snow comes). Most laws are made to protect me and if I don't like a particular law I right my representative or my city officials.

    Besides, almost all content content creators use P2P and other online outlets to generate buzz for the stuff, often by releasing 'illegal' works to these outlets. I should know, I used to work for a large music company doing exactly that....

    That's actually kind of interesting. I didn't think that companies would release clips to generate buzz, but it does make sense. More exposure = more fans.

     

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    Bilbo, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    $1.99 vs $0

    I Tivo 100% of the content that I watch on TV. If by some scheduling conflict or mishap my Tivo misses an episode of something I actually care about, I will find it online. In the past, I've done this with both BSG and The Office via iTunes. As a good little consumer, I pay my $2 for the content, watch it, and get on with my life. This fall, when a scheduling snafu happens again and I can't find the content I want on iTunes, I'll just go straight to the torrents and get it for free.

     

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    Andrew, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    er what? In my region alone the number of apple stores has tripled in the last 4 years, let alone the last 8. This is not even mentioning that you can get an iPod from Target, in addition to any certified resellers that are located in larger metro regions.

     

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    John Duncan Yoyo, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re:

    It sure isn't Apple making things hard to get. You can buy iPods in Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Walmart and Radio Shack at least one of which is close to nearly everyone. Amazon and the Apple's online store cover everyone else.

    Apple's one price fits all model is what drove the split with NBC/Universal they want to be able to charge more but Apple said no. Of course they are getting dangerously close to the price where people won't bother or pirate it because it is viewed as a bad value.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Re #17 & #18

    #17 Jim Klaas
    That is a very close minded system to get all that stuff only through iTunes.
    There are many alternatives out there for both audio and video.
    Way too many for me to care to take my time to list them.
    A simple Google search should return a bunch in about 5 seconds of your time.

    #18 The Dock22
    Just because something is illegal does not make it morally wrong. To use the example of cars, on an empty highway the speed limit is 55. Say you go 60. That is in NO WAY morally wrong. However it would still be illegal. Middle of night the streets are clear, nobody on em, and you come up to a red light. There is nobody you can see in any direction. It is not morally wrong to go through the red light. However, it is still illegal. These are but a few examples.
    Something being morally right or wrong and something being Legal or Illegal are in no way the same thing.
    There are some overlaps, but that is a matter of opinion.
    To me killing somebody is horribly morally wrong, and it happens to be illegal. But perhaps there is some religion around the world or something that condones that under certain cases, and so to them, it would not be morally wrong at all.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Downloading illegal copies is still wrong

    See the example of Baen books above. There's a company that hasn't worried about "pirates," gives its content away for free, and greatly profits from that experience.

    Some content. And they don't cripple any of it. The result is happy customers, myself included, who have a battlesteel-bound loyalty to them and theirs.

    I remember the day I got a (NON-spam, I had consented freely) email from Baen's webmaster announcing the existence of electronic Advance Reader Copies(eARCs) of not-yet-available books and being told (as I recall it) "We appreciate our loyal fans, and we want to take advantage of you." I was too busy laughing like hell to do anything for the next five minutes.

    Then I said "Yes! Take advantage of me!", went over to the site, and paid for my first eARC.

    They Do It Right.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 1:27pm

    John, I agree, you can buy an IPod anywhere, but can you buy an Apple computer anywhere? The places where you could do so have went down considerably.

    iTunes is just another distribution point, nothing more, nothing less. Not everyone buys everything online. Why can't you buy a Mac in Walmart? Apple chooses not to sell them there.

    I can see why the one price fits all doesn't work for NBC, some content is worth more than others. Most of their content isn't worth anything, but thats a different matter.

     

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    TheDock22, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re #17 & #18

    To use the example of cars, on an empty highway the speed limit is 55. Say you go 60. That is in NO WAY morally wrong.

    Middle of night the streets are clear, nobody on em, and you come up to a red light. There is nobody you can see in any direction. It is not morally wrong to go through the red light.

    What if you just happened to not see the man crossing the street while speeding or going through the red light? I guess your sense of morals and mine are pretty different. I justify my morals as how many people will or would possibly be impacted by my actions and how. If people would be negatively impacted, I take that into careful consideration.

    But like you said, morality is ones own opinion. All in all though, if it is illegal you shouldn't do it no matter what the circumstances are.

     

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    John, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 2:30pm

    This is off-topic, but...

     

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    John, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    This is off-topic, but...

    This is off-topic, but this phrase got me thinking:
    Way back when I could never understand why DVD maker's decided to start putting previews in front of bought DVDs.

    Take a look at some Disney DVD's from the past few years. Not to only do they have movie previews, but they also have ads for Disney World or Disneyland AND they have ads for shows on ABC!

    It's kind of fun to play one of these DVD's and watch for commercials where the announcers drones on about "The next must-watch great ABC drama starts Septmeber 2003"... yes, the same show that didn't make it to October 2003. lol

    It's like a time-capsule of dead movies and shows. :)

     

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    Elliot Comber, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    That's a good point. I'm from the UK, and I have had the answer for several years, but the studios don't want to listen. You see the industry needs a huge shake up. A serious shake up. To be honest. it's the 21st century, television is free, it's based on advertising. that's how it's survived for 40 years+. I get all my TV for free, through Bittorrent, In 720p HD when available. I wouldn't pay 99p for a tv show, or even 5p, because the quality is shit. that's really the reason why downloads aren't paying off. Here's my answer to the studios: if budgets weren't so high, from paying actors/directors millions, then they wouldn't have to rip off the consumer to recoup costs (I've studied film production, and have acted producer, I know the game and what I'm talking about). Simply stop paying stupid sums, and stop ripping us off and there wouldn;t be such a big pirate market. There's always been content for free. Those who know are the ones who can get it. I used to copy floppy disks and get round protection when I was at school. I still buy the games, and the content I really really like. And I'm a die hard pirate with 12,500 mp4's and a box full of HD movies and TV shows. NBC seriously needs to get a grip with reality. and so do those who really think piracy is bad.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Elliot, your video services delivers 1 HD copy to your clients. Why not more? Shouldn't they be able to copy the product you deliver? I mean, they do pay 850 pounds.

     

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    off subject, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 3:01pm

    Re: NBC

    Ever heard of a little show called "Heroes" or do you spend all your time watching the 40 different versions of CSI?

    Looks like NBC is back to some great programming. I'll be veggin on the couch all nite on Mondays. CBS, even Letterman has began to suck - Leno rules. 30 Rock is awesome. NBC will rule this fall.

     

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    Haywood, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Bought DVDs

    That sums up the problem. When one downloads a DVD rip on p2p, all that crap is gone. The ripper may include the piracy message just for grins, but the ads & previews are vaporized. Bottom line is the p2p rendering is the superior product, the $10 isn't the problem.

     

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    Richard, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Random Thoughts

    Actually the Mac retail presence is growing. Only the little Ma/Pa stores have disappeared.

    Apple has ramped up a test program with Apple Shops in Best Buy store from 50 test stores to 200 now, and to 300 before the end of the year. This is no lame effort either. Many of these shops are, or will be, manned by real Apple employees, Apple Solutions Consultants.

    Hopefully this will continue to spread through the entire 800+ store chain!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: NBC

    I've heard of Heros....even attempted to watch it a couple of times....I personally think it stinks. But taht is just me.

     

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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    I don't get it.

    On one hand you say the quality is so bad you wouldn't pay 99p for a show because it isn't worth it, yet a couple of sentences later you are bragging about how much stuff you pirate.

    So you spend all your time pirating stuff that you think is crap?

    Your intellectual dissonance is making me dizzy.

     

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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: I tried to buy some content online...

    I don't get it.

    On one hand you say the quality is so bad you wouldn't pay 99p for a show because it isn't worth it, yet a couple of sentences later you are bragging about how much stuff you pirate.

    So you spend all your time pirating stuff that you think is crap?

    Your intellectual dissonance is making me dizzy.

     

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    BTR1701, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 8:28am

    Re: Bought DVDs

    > I would watch them once if I don't already
    > own the movie, and then I wouldn't have to
    > waste my time skipping them every time after
    > that I watch the film.

    That assumes they even let you skip all the ads. I've had plenty of DVDs that flash "this operation disabled by disc" on the screen when I try to use the MENU, FF or SKIP buttons to get past previews and ads.

    That pisses me off so much, I leave the room and come back later when the disc has played through all the ads and finally reached the main menu. They may be able to disable my remote but they can't disable my feet and I refuse to be forced by someone else to watch their inane advertising.

     

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    BTR1701, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re:

    No kidding. Far from being hard to get, Apple's stuff is some of the easiest to get of all. I was in an airport recently and there was an Apple vending machine in the terminal stocked with everything from batteries to top-of-the-line iPods. When you can buy a $300 iPod from a vending machine in an airport, it's hard to make the case that they're hard to get.

     

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    BTR1701, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I tried to buy some content online

    > Most laws are made to protect me

    That's the difference between you and me. I don't need the government passing hudreds of laws to protect me from everything under the sun (even myself, apparently). I can take care of myself in the vast majority of instances just fine, thank you.

    Maybe you feel safe wrapped in the loving embrace of a government bureacracy but I sure don't.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 18th, 2007 @ 9:27am

    Re #37 & #39

    #37
    That is why I make myself back up copies without that crap.
    Although, I do not think I have encountered any disc that has ALL of the functions disabled. Certainly the Menu and Skip, but usually fast forward works (and my player can FF up to 100, so its pretty close to skip after hitting the button a few times, but I know many do not go that much). Thank gawd they cannot disable our feet. I am sure they would try if there was a way. Which would only make the a billion times worse when, like mentioned, the ads are outdated in a year anyways making them POINTLESS.

    #39, I agree completely.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Re #17 & #18

    > What if you just happened to not see the man
    > crossing the street while speeding or going
    > through the red light?

    If you can't or don't see the man, you can just as easily hit him while obeying all traffic laws.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Thats why I said Apple Computers. It is a fact that there were more locations in 2000 than there are today where you can walk into a store to buy a Mac.

    That has been Apple's choice, to ensure the right people were there to sell their products. Why should NBC be any different?

     

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    Steve, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 11:59am

    You left out the most important aspect of this sto

    NBC jointly announced that they would subsequently be offering free downloads of their programming through their new service. That aspect of the announcement blows your statement out of the water, so I can understand why you'd neglect to mention that. You wouldn't want your agenda compromised.

    Additionally, the technology they are using is a relatively new service created in Israel. This service is a promising new technology that may just in fact finally lead to a true revolution in broadcast entertainment.

    By all means, please don't report all the facts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    stretch mark cream reviews, Jan 4th, 2011 @ 10:06pm

    I don't get it..

    I really don't get it. DVDs are great and they should be bought easily by many. But free downloads are great so I will watch out for them. :)

    Thanks for sharing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Tarot Card Meanings, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:06am

    no matter how...

    I think no matter how companies try to stop piracy, it cannot be stopped completely because it's so easy to share around on the internet. Do you think so?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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