GregHowley.com

Why I Won't Buy Movies Anymore

Tuesday, May 2nd 2017

Just a quick DRM rant here. Back in the day, I would often buy CDs for music and DVDs for movies. I did this in the pre-internet era because that's how you got music and movies respectively. I've still got the bulk of those CDs. I keep them in a box in the basement because I've ripped the music off onto a hard drive. The CDs are there as backup. I own that music, and nobody can remotely take it away from me. A few years back, I had a hard drive crash and had to re-rip most of the music, which was a pain in the ass. But I could do it - I owned the music.

Nowadays, when I discover a new band, I go onto Google Music and purchase the mp3 album. I like mp3 because there's no built-in DRM. I can put that music onto a hard drive, and I own it. In theory, I can also re-download it, but I've got the local copy and I can put into onto as many CDs and hard drives as I need to ensure my backup. Then I can listen to it anywhere on my home network.

I buy those mp3s on Google Play even though I can listen to the music any time on our Amazon Dot or on YouTube because I like the idea of supporting the artist. Plus, I can carry a copy of the music on my phone, put a copy on my PC, or on any mp3 player and not need to worry about networking issues.

But we're moving to a post-DVD era. I've gotten rid of a lot of DVDs, and we do most of our TV/movie watching on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. I've looked at purchasing movies via iTunes, Amazon, Sony, and other services more than once. But you know what I can't stand? As soon as you make that purchase you're locked to an ecosystem. You can't watch that movie elsewhere. You can't download a copy, back it up to watch later offline, and transfer it to another device. You've purchased it, but you don't own it. Ostensibly, the DRM is to stop piracy, but seriously. It's not stopping it. How much better would it be to just sell some format that lets you copy/play the stuff you've purchased freely?

This is why I still have a Netflix DVD plan in 2017. When I want to watch a movie, I'll just add it to the 'save' list on Netflix and get the disc once the movie is out on DVD. If I want to watch it again later, I'll have them ship it again. It's better than "buying" something which you then won't actually own.

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