Hollywood: Where Up Is Down, and 'Anywhere' Is Actually A Small Number Of Places

from the truthful-advertising-and-other-non-sequiturs dept

The latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, released on DVD this week, and I saw a TV ad for it the other night, touting the "digital copy" of the film you get if you buy certain editions of the DVD. That sounded like a great idea, and then the voiceover guy finished his sentence, saying that the digital copy could be enjoyed "anywhere." Given Hollywood's long and storied history of using a different dictionary than the rest of us, I was more than a little curious to see what exactly "anywhere" meant to them. The first thing I learned was that different studios use different copy protection, so the digital versions of different movies can be played on different sets of devices, which is a really nice way to make things easy for consumers. So I clicked around and found out that The Dark Knight is a Warner movie, and followed the trail over to its site, where I discovered Warner's "anywhere" means an internet-connected Windows XP or Vista machine and PlaysForSure-enabled portable devices. So Macs or Linux machines, iPods and other portable media players without Microsoft's copy protection (you know, the one they've been wanting to shut down), apparently aren't included in Warner's definition.

While it's not surprising that the digital copy will play on a narrow range of devices, Warner's advertising of these as "anywhere" is more than a little grating. It reflects the mentality that they know what's best for consumers, and they should get to determine exactly where, how and when people get to enjoy their legitimately purchased content. For Warner's purposes, iPods, other brands of PMPs, Macs and Linux machines don't exist, so in their own minds, saying the digital copy can be enjoyed "anywhere" is true. And thus the mentality that gives us the current state of affairs, in which the MPAA thinks that by limiting how people can playback their legitimate content, they're doing them a favor is explained. In addition to being the year's highest-grossing movie, The Dark Knight was also the year's most pirated film. Given the wide availability of the film on file-sharing networks, what incentive does a consumer with a playback device outside of Warner's "anywhere" definition have to buy a legit copy? And how can that be good for Warner?

Filed Under: drm, hollywood, movies


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 9:56am

    Is this not false advertizing? I mean, if Verizon can be sued for saying, "really fast," how can Warner get away with "anywhere"?

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

    • icon
      Dave (profile), 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      I'll eat my shit if they are charged for false advertising. That's how much little faith I have in the system.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:04pm

        Re: Re:

        One can only guess at people's faith in your basic ability to comprehend the basic English language.

        Anywhere!=everything.

        Just because it doesn't work on _your_ device does not mean it can't be played on compatible devices....anywhere.

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

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      You can play it any ware just as long as you play it on a Plays-for-sure enabled device. There has got to be a ton of them, right? I know the Zune doesn't have it anymore but something has to

      /sarcasm

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

    • identicon
      Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      Actually, nobody was sure for saying "really fast"; Apple was stopped in the UK for saying that in their ads.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:02pm

      Re:

      No.

      Anywhere: A virtually unlimited amount of locations.

      If you have a compatible device, this is in fact, TRUE.

      You people's gripe is that it doesn't work with "Everything".

      You people lack a basic understand of the English language, apparently.

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

  • identicon
    Ross M Karchner, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:21am

    well...

    It's not such a stretch (and maybe even the most obvious interpretation) that "anywhere" simply refers to physical location (on a boat, on a plane, on a train, in Wilkes Barre)-- which it can, using a smallish number of devices.

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

    • identicon
      Gabacho, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:05am

      Re: well...

      When did a billion machines become a small number of devices?

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

      • identicon
        Ima Fish, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: well...

        "When did a billion machines become a small number of devices?"

        Warner says that its "digital copy" can be played "anywhere." However, Warner is only letting customers play the "digital copy" on a limited number of devices. Sure, maybe a million "PlaysForSure" devices have sold, heck, let's assume that a billion such devices have sold, but that subset of devices does not equate to every device sold.

        Clearly a small and limited number of devices can in no way mean "anywhere."

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: well...

          *laughing*

          Because devices are *things*, not places, you ignorant twat.

          Did they *say* it could play on anything? No.

          Go back to school.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 5:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: well...

            Ah, you're right. You cleverly highlight that the words they said do not mean what people demonstrably think of when they hear it. Obviously there's no way this could be deceptive at all.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 6:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: well...

              Deceptive?

              Hardly. They use words that mean specific things. The fact that you morons don't understand those meanings is not their problem.

              Sorry.

              Idiocy isn't a right.

              The stupidity of the people here in no way mandates that I or anyone else cater to that stupidity.

              If you don't know the difference between "things" and "places", you get screwed. Know what? Learn English and this won't be an issue.

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

    • identicon
      Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:02pm

      Re: well...

      Big business loves to redefine terms, so I agree with you. I'm not a Comcast lover, even though I am stuck with their broadband service, but when I questioned their use of "unlimited" when they imposed caps, they replied "unlimited means 24/7, meaning unlimited access, not unlimited data volume".

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re: well...

        Exactly.

        The "unlimited" in that sense refers only to the "always available" connection versus the "on-demand" connection of Dial-up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:24am

    Minimum system requirements

    * DVD disc drive
    * Internet Connection
    * Microsoft Windows XP or Vista
    * Windows Media Player (WMP) 11 or above
    * 2.0 GB of available hard drive space
    * Internet Explorer (IE), version 6 or higher

    If your downloading a movie, why do you need a DVD drive?
    That's right, silly me.... to watch the DVD because the download wont play for sure.

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

    • identicon
      Hulser, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:37am

      Re: Minimum system requirements

      If your downloading a movie, why do you need a DVD drive?

      My guess is that what's really required is the DVD decoder, which comes with DVD drives, but that it's just easier to list "DVD disc drive" as the requirement.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:02am

      Re: Minimum system requirements

      I think the dvd drive is required to transfer the digital copy file from the disc to the computer and then to the player. I believe the content is on the disc, not downloaded.

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

  • identicon
    Johnny Greb, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:26am

    Ross gets it...

    Anywhere = any location

    It technically doesn't imply "anyhow"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:34am

      Re: Ross gets it...

      For all the value added, you might as well just bring the DVD with your laptop.

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

    • identicon
      Hulser, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:45am

      Re: Ross gets it...

      Anywhere = any location
      It technically doesn't imply "anyhow"


      I have to agree here. There are plenty of things that the movie industry does that's worthy of criticism, but this isn't one of them. To me, "any where" means just that, any location, not any how. It's a tempest in a teapot.

      If there's any legitimate criticism of the "anywhere" statement, it should be about how the region restrictions limit where you can watch a DVD.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:29am

        Re: Re: Ross gets it...

        The article mentions that the device has to be "internet-connected", which presumably means the DRM phones home before it works. What if you're somewhere without internet connectivity available? What if you're in a location that only has Macs, iPods or pre-XP Windows machines available? Presumably you're screwed.

        It's still misleading in any case by pretending that this is some kind of extra bonus worth paying for. The DVD will play anywhere (well, technically within North America, thanks to region coding), the digital file is the only thing restricted. It's just an attempt to get people to part with money for something they already have the legal right to own (by ripping the DVD to their own devices) by pretending that this right doesn't exist.

        Whether or not you agree with the jumping off point in the article, this is the biggest problem the MPAA has - people recognise its tricks and are tiring of the misinformation they pump out to "protect" its profits (which tends to do exactly the opposite).

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

        • identicon
          Hulser, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ross gets it...

          It's still misleading in any case by pretending that this is some kind of extra bonus worth paying for.

          "Misleading"? Probably. But not "false". Isn't "misleading advertising" a redundant term anyway?

          It's just an attempt to get people to part with money for something they already have the legal right to own (by ripping the DVD to their own devices) by pretending that this right doesn't exist.

          Agreed, however this is no more misleading than advertisers who put "Fat free!" on food that never had any fat in the first place. To me this quibble over "anywhere" vs. "anyhow" is generic to the entire advertising industry. In other words, it doesn't rise to the same level of the other dirty tricks that the movie and music industries have used.

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

      • identicon
        Joe, 11 Dec 2008 @ 12:51pm

        Re: Re: Ross gets it...

        Yeah but why wouldn't you be able to play a digital copy anywhere? You can watch the dvd anywhere if you have all the equipment you need with the right compatible technology. So they shouldn't even say anywhere since it isn't a distinguishing factor...it is meant to confuse consumers to spend the extra $5 for something they mis interpret thus false advertising.

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

        • identicon
          Hulser, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ross gets it...

          it is meant to confuse consumers to spend the extra $5 for something they mis interpret thus false advertising.

          By that standard, almost every piece of advertising in the history of advertising would be "false".

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

    • identicon
      Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:06pm

      Re: Ross gets it...

      So in defining "anywhere" they omit the single largest portable media player, the iPod...oh, wait! You can buy it on iTunes for $14.99! So you should buy TWO copies! That explains Warner Bros.' rationale quite perfectly.

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

  • identicon
    Frank, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:31am

    Still technically wrong...

    If you want to get completely technical then there should be a condition on the statement anywhere - it should actually be "anywhere with required hardware" or something like that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:32am

    Irony

    My girlfriend was saying that she thought it would be nice to get one of those Digital Copy DVDs because then she could just put it on her iPod. But it looks like we'll still have to stick with the technically illegal methods to put DVDs we've legally purchased onto her iPod.

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

  • identicon
    Jared, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:44am

    Being a mac user...

    I'll still buy the dvd because i like to own the movies but my digital copy will have to come courtesy of Handbrake.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:49am

    I can view my copy anywhere

    The studios have once again forced me to pirate a copy, but at least I can view my copy anywhere and on any device.

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

  • identicon
    Digital Escape, 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:55am

    It CAN be played anywhere...

    Once I rip that bad boy, I WILL be able to play it anywhere!

    Audiences shouldn't be afraid of the Movie Studios. Movie Studios should be afraid of their audiences.

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

  • identicon
    Jesse, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:15am

    Sure, you can take the approved device anywhere you like and we give you permission to watch what you purchased. How generous of us! :)

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

  • identicon
    CN, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:19am

    It's like playing Twister...

    Well, they also like to say "Own it on DVD now!" And then tell you that you can't do what you want with it, because you don't own it.

    I dunno about the DK, but the Star Wars Clone Wars movie DVD lists quite a few restrictions:
    Windows Media only, No Mac, No iPod, Must reside in USA or Canada, must have broadband internet, latest IE (don't want it) and so on. OFFER EXPIRES May 11th 2009. What's the point?!? Better off to just rip it yourself instead of wasting your time with all that nonsense.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:23am

    Yet another pointless discussion.......

    As a few people mentioned earlier "anywhere" means any location.

    You really think a major movie will be released in DRMless (or without any other "protection") soon, do you?

    There is no way studios are going to make as much money they are making no without copyright protection. Because of copyright protection many people are still paying for their movie (they are afraid to break the law + convenience).

    Until they figure out another business model (I dont know better models and I havent seen anybody else, including mike, suggest one), we are stuck with these "fool"proof protections.

    If you disagree please suggest another model (dont point to a previous post that links to another. post gist of ur idea here on this thread).

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

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:13pm

      Re: Yet another pointless discussion.......

      Let me first point out that Dark Knight was the most downloaded movie this year. It also grossed quite a bit in the theater and on DVD. Translated: Dark Knight did vary will with legal purchases in spite of downloading. This is achieved by providing a product that the customer wants.

      Theaters could provide an experience. A big, good quality picture that can't be replicated in most homes, comfortable chairs, good food and drink, a place that doesn't smell like a bathroom in a bar. A full social gathering. Sounds easy to me.

      DVDs and Blu-Rays can provide a better picture than most downloads, special features that usually aren't in the download, artwork, an actual physical copy (means something to me), a discount to their next theatrical release. Maybe release the movie for a more reasonable price. Maybe release the hardware for a reasonable price.

      Having a movie that is actually good would help both of them. Maybe creating a new movie not just a rehash of something they already did. It may also help them if they got good actors and didn't just pay 20 mill for a face.

      No download that I have ever seen on P2P has ever had DRM. Including it on the legit copies not only can give problems to legit owners but also can say "We don't trust you with the stuff you just payed for". It's why I didn't buy a few things (like spore).

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 11 Dec 2008 @ 3:52pm

      Re: Yet another pointless discussion.......

      As a few people mentioned earlier "anywhere" means any location.

      If that's true, it's still misleading. After all, you could just as easily say that the DVD can be "played anywhere" as well, since you can watch it via your laptop anywhere you go.

      Since Warner specifically calls out the digital file as being playable "anywhere" that implies MORE than what the DVD allows, and it appears that's not the case. So it's still false advertising.

      There is no way studios are going to make as much money they are making no without copyright protection.

      There is absolutely no evidence to support this.

      Because of copyright protection many people are still paying for their movie (they are afraid to break the law + convenience).

      I would argue an equal number of folks do NOT buy the DVD for those same reasons.

      Until they figure out another business model (I dont know better models and I havent seen anybody else, including mike, suggest one), we are stuck with these "fool"proof protections.

      That's simply incorrect. There are plenty of business models that would work that we've discussed here.

      If you disagree please suggest another model (dont point to a previous post that links to another. post gist of ur idea here on this thread).

      Why not? Why should we waste our (scarce) time retyping arguments we've discussed in detail before? Your laziness is not an acceptable answer.

      However, if you want to begin to actually understand the movie business, recognize it's always been about selling scarcities: seats in theaters for an experience. Then begin to explore and you'll find tons of business models that work.

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

  • identicon
    bob, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:24am

    I Got Your Anywhere Right Here

    I already have my play anywhere Dark Knight, LOL, Arrrrrhhhh.

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

    • identicon
      ToySouljah, 11 Dec 2008 @ 7:11pm

      Re: I Got Your Anywhere Right Here

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing since someone already ripped it for the iPod so I didn't have to wait and do it myself...lol. I am still going to buy the DVD, but wanted something to watch on the road until then.

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

  • identicon
    Ima Fish, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:25am

    Warner should hire AXXO to create a high quality digital copy that can be truly played everywhere. Wait, he already did. Never mind.

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

  • identicon
    Henry, 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:29am

    Who is your target consumer?

    >> "The Dark Knight was also the year's most pirated film."

    It seems this is a business problem where a solution has been produced by the industry.

    But, the thing is, the solution requires the consumer to conform to a set of standards, which were probably set based on pre-existing business agreements, hence, the XP and Plays-for-Sure requirement.

    It's important to note that iPods and iPhones make up over 70% of the personal media devices sold today. So choosing a platform which hasn't obtained critical mass means that the majority of consumers can't meet the requirements. Thusly, the "Plays Anywhere" claim seems false. There are requirements, and the requirements do not cater to the majority consumer base.

    Now would be a good time to re-read the "Thoughts On Music" argument Steve Jobs penned in February last year.

    But as long as the content companies continue to value content over the distribution channel, ease of acquisition will continue to have little value proposition. This should change.

    Put simply, it means customers will be angry if you adopt technology standards which prevent consumption/delivery on your promise to a majority of the target consumerbase.

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

  • identicon
    Todd, 11 Dec 2008 @ 12:25pm

    Has anyone actually purchased this movie and checked out what the digital copy really is? Because maybe the info on the internet is wrong. I have purchased several movies lately with digital copy and, with the exception of Hancock, which is a Sony movie, and only playable on the PSP, they have all had the option to play on iPod.

    I don't think any of them were warner, though. They were Journey to the Center of the Earth, Incredible Hulk, Wanted and one other I can't remember.

    The digital copy was not a download, it was a file you copy from a second disc.

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

  • identicon
    Dylan, 11 Dec 2008 @ 12:45pm

    iPod

    I just bought the movie.
    On Macs, you use iTunes to acquire the digital copy. When you insert the 2nd disk, open iTunes, select the disk, input a redeem code that's included with the movie, and it downloads.

    Simple.

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

    • identicon
      Dave, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:02pm

      Re: iPod

      This, exactly (I bought the Blu-ray edition last night and used the Digital Copy with my Mac and iTunes right away).

      This article, and a lot of the comments, are flat-out wrong when they say that Warner's digital copy of The Dark Knight won't work with Macs. While I'm not fan of DRM, at least get your facts straight before deriding it.

      (Note: I don't know if the limitations on TDK are different than other Warner films, or if there's additional DRM that won't let me transfer TDK to my iPhone [haven't tried that yet].)

      Also, for me, the digital copy was a nice benefit, since I bought the Blu-ray edition and don't have a regular DVD to rip even if I wanted to.

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

  • identicon
    Twinrova, 11 Dec 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Tell Mike...

    ... had the internet "tax" been imposed, you wouldn't have this issue, now would you?
    ;)

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

  • identicon
    Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Apple Does It Again

    Any why, dear reader, can't you play the movie on you iPod? BECAUSE APPLE IS SELLING IT ON iTUNES for $14.99!!! They want you to buy your DVD with its Plays-for-Sure copy, then fork out another $14.99 for a copy to play on your iPod! Marketing genius~

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

    • identicon
      Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Apple Does It Again

      I sure can't type today! That should have started with "Any WONDER why...". Missed a whole word there!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 2:09pm

      Re: Apple Does It Again

      "On Macs, you use iTunes to acquire the digital copy. When you insert the 2nd disk, open iTunes, select the disk, input a redeem code that's included with the movie, and it downloads.

      Simple."

      ...for those who actually know what they are talking about, it seems.

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

      • identicon
        Michael B, 11 Dec 2008 @ 8:21pm

        Re: Re: Apple Does It Again

        Can you not do this on a PC with iTunes?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 6:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Apple Does It Again

          Either. Free. With the "Digital Copy" included with the DVD.

          Funny how that works, isn't it?

          Apple is selling it, but the Digital copy gives you a coupon to receive it _free_.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:58pm

    ...Are you people retarded?

    It is compatible with certain portable media players. Last I checked, they were called such because you can virtually take them ... anywhere.

    I ask again...

    Are you people retarded?

    So it's not compatible with _everything_. You folks do know that "Anywhere" and "Everything" are two entirely different words, right?

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

  • identicon
    Yourhero88, 12 Dec 2008 @ 10:06am

    False

    This is false. I have the blue ray edition, and the digital copy loaded right onto my imac, and then my iphone, no problem.

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

  • icon
    John (profile), 12 Dec 2008 @ 7:23pm

    I'm confused...

    Okay, I get the part where "plays anywhere" isn't the same as "plays on any device", but if this is the case, why do the TV commercials promote the fact that the digital copy can be played "anywhere"? Like Mike said, the commercial makes it seem like a big deal that the digital file is somehow different from the DVD. Technically speaking, if you put the DVD in a portable DVD player, it can be played "anywhere".

    So, this leads us to the conclusion that the commercial wants us to believe that the digital copy is more valuable because it can be played "anywhere"?

    Even if this isn't false advertising, it's misleading. The very fact that this thread is debating the usage of the word "anywhere" is proof enough.
    I really think this word is used in the commercial as legal-speak so Warner can get themselves out of any accusations thrown their way when the digital copy doesn't play properly.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Hey Carlo Longino, do you even bother to find out the facts before you write up a story about something? You are completely wrong, just as I suspected.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:15pm

    You get a wmv version that you can play on Zune and a m4v version that you can play on iPod. I can't believe people would complain about that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2008 @ 9:17am

    Anywhere is defined as Region 1...

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

  • identicon
    scc4fun, 24 Dec 2008 @ 9:15pm

    Blu-ray digital copy

    The digital copy in the blu-ray edition works for both iTunes and playsforsure. I just put it on my iPhone.

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


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