brian on 2005.11.21
at 03:33 pm
To me, to see a film once is not worth $20. I have no desire to keep a copy of this potentially interesting film, and even if I loved it, I would never watch it again, and thus have no need for hard copy.
I might go to a movie theater once or twice a year, and own no DVD movies I bought myself. I put my money where my mouth is. I do watch movies when they come to the small screen, but would watch more if I were allowed more control of where and when I could watch them. I would call this an untapped market.
I’m certainly not saying everyone (or anyone) shares my views, but I feel Joel, as a leading software business mind, is missing on a big opportunity. Funny that its lacking considering his last entry on digital media distribution!
I would have, in his shoes, chosen an H.264 download (with BitTorrent ) option alongside the DVD purchase option. There will be folk who want to keep a high-quality hardcopy, and they should get to have that. $20 is reasonable for that.
However, I would like to download a copy for a more digestible $5. I think the sheer volume of downloads would offset any cannibalization of the DVD sales, in addition to the saved costs due to no packaging, two rounds of shipping, manufacturing… and BitTorrent would make the bandwidth very reasonable (ask Cringely ). Sounds lucrative.
Afraid of piracy? Well, the tools to buy that DVD and change it into the format I described above exist in abundance. People will invite friends over to watch the movie, even! Gasp!
If anything, a legal download provides a reasonable and easy alternative to piracy. It’s working for Apple right now. I don’t think FairPlay will be the end all of digital media rights management, but its a solid, first reasonable and reasonably successful attempt. The only thing I’d add to a download like Joel’s would be the downloader’s email address, which the downloader would a) know was attached, b) have to enter into the purchasing webpage to get emailed a link to the torrent file.
Yes there are easy ways around these small features, but that’s the point. They keep honest people honest… if you share this on P2P nets and we see it, we’ll know you put it here. You can’t worry about those who will just strip it out, because of the DVD ripping issue I mentioned above.
Piracy will be a given, but you can’t criminalize all your customers because of it. Give reasonable people reasonable options to stay above board, and this will put the piracy percentage to its minimum. That will net you all the profit you deserve.
I cannot believe that digital delivery was not strongly considered by Joel. He’s a sharp mind. So even if we don’t get a downloadable option, I’d hope he’d post his thoughts on what made him go traditional in this case on his blog.
Joel, I look forward to seeing your film, if you give me the opportunity to!
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