back to article Warner Bros boss moots 'disc-to-digital' scheme

Warner Bros wants you to trade in your DVDs for cloud-stored video files, the home entertainment's president has indicated - its latest method to persuade punters to buy rather than rent. Speaking at a Morgan Stanley tech confab in San Francisco this week, Warner Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara outlined an …


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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    @Tony Smith

    "its latest method to persuade punters to buy rather than rent."

    I am confused by that statement. I think that means exactly the opposite - they seem to want you to give back your physical disc, which you've bought and which they have no way of clawing back from you and, in exchange, give you access to a DRMed copy stored on their server, which they fully control and which they can withhold from you any time they like.

    In other words they want you to rent rather than buy, not the other way round.

    1. Jedit
      Big Brother

      "In other words they want you to rent rather than buy"

      Not exactly right. They want you to think you're buying something when you're actually only paying for a service.

      The cloud is the biggest waste of space and scam in the history of IT. There is no way any of us should be willing to accept a situation where what we have bought can be lost simply because the seller doesn't want to offer it to us any more.

      1. Rob Davis

        Re: "In other words they want you to rent rather than buy"

        Depends on the additional services that the cloud can offer as to whether the cloud is really inferior as you might claim

        - there is an overhead of time managing your own files: backups, organising, cataloging. A cloud service looks after all that for you. I've done all of these things with my own media and it can be very time consuming. Fast Duplicate File Finder, Beyond Compare, mp3tag. PFrank File Renamer -- help a lot though!

        - a cloud service can track how much you have watched/read and synchronise this information to all the authorised devices. Think Kindle, for example.

        - a cloud service can potentially make your media available anywhere. Again think Kindle.

        Don't get me wrong, I see the pitfalls of proprietary cloud services. But today, I'm also not one to collect physical media. Most films I might watch once or just a few times. A few I might want to keep for longer.

        But I prefer the minimalist clutter free life; can't take it to the grave and life is all about experiences and all that. I'm partly over the need to own something tangible.

        As one commentator put it very well right here on ElReg, DRM'd services are like a perpetual hire of the material, that might actually suit some more than the albeit small worry of looking after a DVD collection that might not even play on machines in the future, become obsolete.

        They can't and never will be able to DRM the discussions one would have among friends about a film, a tune or a book.

      2. aerichard

        Re: "In other words they want you to rent rather than buy"

        Don't write off the whole cloud just yet. There are services out there - like Amazon's MP3 store and Cloud Player - that are doing it right.

        1. Killraven

          Re: "In other words they want you to rent rather than buy"

          Thanks, but I'll keep control of my own media.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: @Tony Smith

      It's not just that they want to push you to the rental model, just think what this does to the 2nd hand market - something they've always wanted to kill off. This way, the whole market is killed, or at the very least they can get a cut of every transaction in the chain.

      To use their cloud, you'll need to register an account and probably add some billing capability. You'll get licenses and access to locked down content - no way of grabbing your own version barring screen-capture software (assuming a PC client is available and this isn't just a bundled feature with a "smart-TV" or Satellite/cable STB). Additionally, they have control over the player itself - no skipping those pesky ads.

      They could either play nice and create a marketplace to trade titles, or they could just ignore that and say "not our problem - this is what you bought and trading is not a feature". Which gets them more money? Who knows, perhaps they'll mimic Steam's success, but, imho, Warner - go straight to Fail, do not pass Go, do not collect your pound of flesh.

  2. lurker

    Not without it's flaws, but it's nice to see someone in the industry at least trying to adapt their business model in some way, instead of just bribing politicians or litigating against teenagers.

    I wonder if we'll have to sit through the frustrating FBI "we're going to punish you for being a paying customer" trailers on the 'cloud' versions too?

  3. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    So you want me to trade me my physical, unrevokable, hard copy of digital data that I can perfectly on any standardised machine, can rip to a perfect digital copy in a matter of minutes, including removing all those horrendous ten-minute adverts and unskippable menus (not to mention region encoding), so that I receive in return an online, revokable, copy of the digital data (format not specified) where i can't do any of that stuff at all.

    That's a real nice plan. For you. I don't see anything in it for me. I don't do piracy, but I do make digital copies of my own disks onto a hard drive so that I can get rid of all that junk and - shock, horror - just play the damn movie that I bought.

    I've yet to buy one of those "we'll give you an online copy too" DVD's that are already out (so this isn't really news). My dad asked me what they were the other week and after I explained what you'd need to do to play them, he just said "Wouldn't be easier to just copy the disc that's in the same box onto your computer?" This is a man who doesn't know how to right-click.

    Seriously. If you want me to do it, advertise to me using words that I can appreciate: No region-encoding. No UOP's. No adverts. Same digital data. And not having to trade in my original copy at all.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: if you want me to do it

      You want me to gather up some discs, take them to a shop and wait at the counter whilst some shocked assistant digs out the relevant codes for the discs that the scheme applies to and identifies the ones that (inevitably) it doesn't.

      Pay me, at a sensible hourly rate for my time and inconvenience.

      Do that, and I will consider returning the physical media that you are so afraid of. Spout insultingly obvious lies about "buying not renting" and I won't.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: the physical media that you are so afraid of

        Actually, perhaps that is the most curiously "out of touch" aspect of the whole business. This guy is presumably trying to claw back physical media because they are so easy to rip, but presumably doesn't imagine that anyone will "take a backup" before handing it back over the counter.

        I just can't see what is in this crazy idea *for either side*. Maybe I'm just lost in a parallel universe where rights to format shifting and fair use are increasingly enshrined in law, bits are increasingly easy to copy and store in a variety of affordable places, and the only people deterred by existing DRM schemes are those naturally inclined to obey the law in the first place.

  4. iCode86

    I'm out.....

    Until they let me use these digital copies on my Linux box, which most current ones won't, I'll stick to ripping my DVDs manually.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital Divide

    48% of Wales has been left behind by advances in both speed and data allowances, thats without the disadvanatged areas in England and Scotland that have had funding evaporate as BT rush to compete with Virgin in the spoiled urban areas where they have upgrade after upgrade thrown at them.

    Until they sort out the farce that is UK broadband The possibilities of downloads instead of rental /purchase cannot be fully exploited.. Our area has no video rental store, and since Woolies went we are restricted to the very limited range stocked in our local supermarket for "immediate" purchase.

    Digital delivery / cloud services are of no use on an 8 meg exchange with congested virtual paths that BT cant even be arsed to publish a fix date for. Bt are talking about trials of 80meg fibre... we cant even get 8 meg here, and the infinity product with an identical allowance is only five quid more... tell me how that works!

    1. Jedit

      Re: Digital Divide

      But not your fail, don't worry.

      Being in Wales and hence unlikely to have the problem, you forgot to mention something else that just struck me while reading your post - monthly download limits. Bad enough that you're restricted by other factors, but when users are also restricted in how much of their own purchased entertainment they are allowed to watch each month the model is completely useless.

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    No, seriously, it's OK about the unskippable, embedded adverts

    I don't particularly relish the thought of being shoved mindless advertising for irrelevant crap in which I'm not interested. Neither do I relish the prospect of being shoves ads for relevant crap which I have already satisfied my need, but which it is supposed I am still interested because behavioural monitoring doesn't actually work properly.

    They obviously recognise that, so it must be reeaonable to expect they will be paying you the going rate, for the time you spend doing a job for them.

    After all, they ARE asking you to perform a service, aren't they. They are asking you to take time out to review some material that they have pushed at you but which you don't actually want. I'd class that as asking me to do work.

    Now, my consultancy fees for reviewing material are currently £50 per hour (I'm a cheap whore, really), with a minimum of 2 hours consultancy.

    I think I can put up with that. Anything less and they can shove it.


  7. Hnk0
    Thumb Down

    Looked like a good plan until they said "DRM". So I can access it only on approved devices (no Linux), and I can't put a copy on my smartphone/tablet for when I travel and won't have connectivity. Fail, fail, and fail again. I'll keep ripping.

  8. Murphy's Lawyer

    Media company doublespeak again

    So Warners' definition of "rent" is physical media you purchase and can play in any machine that recognises it, while "buy" refers to bits and bytes controlled by them as to how and when you watch it (provided their servers aren't down or they decide the service isn't making enough money so they close them down leaving you with unusable files).

    To quote the wabbit: "What a bunch of maroons!"

  9. Gerphy
    Thumb Down

    *Digital* Versatile Disc?

    Have consumers forgotten what a DVD is ?

    Or do Warner just think that consumers have forgotten ?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Sad ...

    Part of the experience of purchasing a disc copy (Blu-Ray of course) is receiving the artwork and packaging that accompanies it. That's the reason that Warner Bros got me to fork out £70 for the Bladerunner set that admittedly is worth every penny. How do they intend to provide the same experience via a download? Just as we lost the cultural significance of the vinyl album sleeve by reducing the images to thumbnail size to fit into a CD case (and then worse for mp3 et al) the we'll lose just as much when all our video media is stored outside our control and virtually. As usual we're being exploited for the profit of the companies producing the media.

  11. Winkypop Silver badge

    How long until in-show advertising?

    If they control the medium (cloud), they control the way the message is shown.

    DVDs never looked so good.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Warner (MPAA,RIAA etc)

    Fuck off trying to control how we want to use products we have bought.

    Clear enough for you?

    Constant shite like this just turns me more and more away from ever buying their products again.

  13. Archivist

    This one's another fail

    To virtually eliminate lost market due to piracy, they need to deliver the product to market:

    In a timely fashion - simultaneous region release

    At an affordable price - perhaps according to region

    Of sufficient quality - without criminal warnings and ads

    Adaptable media - playable on many devices

    Impossible? I don't think so. The only obstacle is obstinacy.

  14. Mike Flugennock

    "Warner Bros wants you to trade in your DVDs...

    ...for cloud-stored video files..."

    Sonofabitch, you owe me one.

  15. Da Weezil

    Subtitled for the industry thinking impared.

    SO these are the same 'tards that bleat about falling sales... THIS is why people... stop trying to micro manage our use of a product.

    Jeeze.. if they put as much effort into making sure they produced only quality and entertaining media, they might return to the boom days, right now we are fed reheats (Sweeney anyone?) or music based on anything but pure talent.. but hey who needs a singing voice when you have auto-tune?

    The entertainment industry (thats a mis description if ever there was) needs a healthy dose of wake the f*** up to reality.

    I want a physical product that I can put to my own fair uses, including format shifting. the harder you make this.. the less I buy... is that an equasion you can understand and follow Mr Pigopolist?

  16. Keep Refrigerated

    And in other news...

    Equity release companies want you to turn over your mortgaged house, which you rent, to them so that you can own your own home.

  17. Paul RND*1000

    I'm a renter not a criminal!

    "The industry fears these services not simply because they generate far less revenue for it, but because it encourages, it believes, a 'rent and rip' culture."

    Could they be any more out of touch with reality?

    I pay my monthly sub to Netflix for their DVD-only service and rent what I want to watch. Technically I'm quite capable of ripping the content but I really can't be arsed. Why spend the time, storage space and blank media to copy something I can turn around, shove right back on the top of my queue and have in my hands within a couple of days at worst?

    Maybe I'm an outlier, but most movies and TV shows I have no desire to see more than once. The few that I might re-watch later I can re-rent when I want to. The very few indeed that I might want to keep around, I'll be damned if I'll trust that to some cloud service or a DRM-adulterated file on my computer. Or any file on my computer, actually.

    I expect most people renting from Netflix (or anywhere else) don't know where to start even if they did want to rip a DVD.

    Besides, if rentals were such a bad deal for the industry they wouldn't exist at all.

  18. King Jack

    I've just had a lobotomy

    I think it's a great idea. Where can I sign? I don't want to own anything anymore. I fully trust them not to shaft me down the road.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital Copies

    Digital Copies are a massive waste of time. I've had a few DVD's with free digital copies, and every time I've tried to access it it's taken me to various websites that I've had to register for before I can download something I've already paid for. Sorry, but if I have to register to use something that I've already bought you're not going to get very far. Especially when I immediately stuck the DVD in my computer, activated Wondershare, and had my own digital copy within an hour and a half. No fuss, no DRM, no problems. I think giving people a digital copy free with any DVD they buy is an excellent idea, but if you're going to make it more complicated to use (and with more restrictions) than ripping the disc then you're on a hiding to nothing.

  20. Richard Harris

    The Guide Mk2

    Why make millions of DVD's when you can make one logical file and sell it millions of times? I wonder if there is a black bird with no perception filter flying around in the cloud?

  21. Quids

    A step in the right direction?

    But I want a digital copy I can play and store on any of my Linux devices.

    Until then I'll keep with the less than legal methods that work absolutely fine.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really can't see this working for me...

    This is being presented as a new approach, as the content industry finally embracing the internet. Unfortunately, I see it as anything but.

    I think this is just the progression of the original plan... Stop the customer ever possessing the material so they can never attack it and make copies. Keep it DRMed and encrypted from their hard drive to your screen.

    Guaranteed to be available to watch in years' time - Unless they decide to stop serving it.

    Watchable when my ISP is offline (It's Virgin, it happens) - No

    Watchable if I'm travelling round the world - Probably Not

    Can be put on my NAS and enjoyed on my Internet-enabled DLNA TV - No

    Watchable on my Android and Linux devices - No

    Higher ISP fees for extra bandwidth for streaming the same stuff again and again - Yes

    Unless I'm missing something, there really in nothing in this that make my life in any way better.

  23. Hooksie

    it'll be uncompressed 1080p video though yeah? Pffft. Paws off my BluRay collection. The digital copies I make for my Touchpad are far better than the ones you get 'included'. Takes a few hours of my laptop's time but what do I care.

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