Friday, April 13, 2012

DVDs are Here For a While Longer

I keep seeing predictions of the demise of the DVD and Blueray disks. I am here to tell you it is bunk. CDs are a goner though.

So how do I rectify the two? Three little letters, DRM.

When I download a song from Amazon or iTunes I can move it to any player I have, no restrictions. This means that I can have it on my phone, regardless of manufacturer, on my Notebook, and on my multimedia center PC. I can also choose the interface I use to play that music, regardless of manufacturer or operating system. Because of this flexibility the reasons for maintaining physical copies is pretty much done for.

Actually, I had some music I purchased from iTunes back in 2006 that I lost the CD I had made to play it in my car. I went to iTunes, and there it was, waiting for me to download a fresh copy of my lost purchase. Try that with a CD.

The pricing of CDs have even made buying used a losing proposition.  Unless you are buying something not available as a download (Really? Pop Goes the World by Men Without Hats is not available for download?) you really don't save any money.  The one advantage of CDs is that you have something physical you can sell and get some of the money back, but if you look at it as a deposit on the music, you still are ahead on the downloads based on the paltry amounts they will give you for CDs these days.

Unfortunately videos are a completely different story.  Downloaded videos are so locked down that your ability to use them becomes severely compromised.  In reality you can only play downloaded video files on some of your devices, and certainly you are limited in which players you will view it.  So if I download Reckless Kelley from iTunes, I can watch it on my iPad, or in iTunes, but I can't import it into Plex, my main media player.  And so I am stuck.

This leaves you with two options.  You can buy the DVD (which takes time, but is the route I have chosen), or you can download it off of some of the free torrent sites.  Honestly, the pirated video is actually the most useful in that you can have it immediately and just move forward.  I buy the DVD, rip it to a format that my iPad is happy with and upload that to Plex.  It will often take several days to get the DVD, and then 3-6 hours to actually rip the files.  What a pain.  But by going this route I have the option of using the file as I see fit.

And that is the downfall of video downloads.  So long as they are hampered by DRM, pirating and DVD/BR disks will be around to stay.  Maybe that is how they want it, but it is a dumb model.  I just purchased a used DVD of Johnny English Reborn for $7.  With shipping it was $10. It cost me the same (or less) than a download, and if I wish, I could resell it and get most of that money back.

What the market demands is easy access to content on our choice of device and interface.  I'm willing to pay a fair price for that, but I must be able to use it where I see fit.  Until then don't get too worried about the immanent death of your videos on DVD or Blueray.

Oh, but CDs are a goner.  No doubt about that.