Why a Geek won't buy HD-DVD or Blu-ray Discs

It’s simply not worth the trouble.

Ignoring the obvious ethical and social issues, DRM leads to an arms race that should never have started. And it is one that the DRM pushers are sure to lose. It costs loads of money to produce a DRM scheme, to try to implement it, to keep it updated when it gets cracked within a few weeks of each update, and then to support all of the customers who simply want to play their movie but can’t because you are “protecting” it.

There is a great discussion over at Ed Felton’s blog about the AACS cracks and updates. Basically it takes tons of time and money to stop movies from playing, inconveniencing paying customers, all because the studios are fixated on the possibility of losing a few sales to people who copy a movie and losing sight of how to get and keep happy customers (hint: treating them like criminals and children is not it).

I won’t buy an overpriced HD player or the overpriced discs not just because of the money, but because the formats are caught up in a stupid arms race that can lead to my player suddenly being remotely disabled (apparently I don’t own the player as much as I thought even if I pay $500 for it) so I can’t play my discs, or having new discs in the “same” format come out that won’t play on my player without a firmware update (because those aren’t a pain to do).

It’s not worth the trouble.

I want to buy a movie and then be able to play it by popping in a disc and pressing Play. That’s it, anything more complicated is too much trouble and justs leaves me in a bad mood instead of happy I saw a cool movie. DRM ruins the fun and fantasy of watching a great movie and replace sit with technological hassles (I have enough of those when I’m working) and a reminder that the people who made the movie think I’m a criminal. It leaves me frustrated and insulted and it’s not worth it.

Hell, I’m still pissed every time I see the annoying FBI warning which amounts to “we’re pretty sure you’re a criminal waiting to copy this film and we’re watching you”. Of course I can’t fast forward past it, I just have to sit and be scolded before I watch my movie.

It’s not worth the trouble.

DRM makes everything more expensive. If we took the loads of money being spent trying to stop movies from being copied we could drastically lower the prices of the players and discs and increase sales to more than make up for the slight loss from a few copied discs.

DRM, it’s a lousy fact of life if you want to get HD content from the studios, but it’s a losing battle. The music distributors have already lost the battle and are giving up as we see iTunes and other music download services moving to a DRM free world. It will make all of our lives easier and happier when the movie studios see the light, abandon the HD disc arms race, and get back to entertaining people first and foremost.

Kevin Hall
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