Tuesday, October 30, 2007


How do you get your entertainment?

Eric, over at Sicheii Yazhi, passes on a comment about technology that comes from his students’ ridicule:

Students in my freshman comp. course have been asking me every week whether or not I’ve seen Superbad yet. I haven’t.

Today I asked, “Is that even out on DVD yet?”

The reply, “DVD?” was laced with such disbelief and disdain that I laughed out loud. The implication was clear, and made explicit a moment later by a second student: “Just watch it online.”

Students today are obviously not prepared to wait for such antiquated forms of media as DVDs. The online world has made everything on-demand. I’m not sure how the entertainment world should best handle this, but I am sure they better handle it soon because the kids ain’t waitin’.

And that last sentence is the key. If the entertainment world puts its effort into digital rights management, and insists on trickling things out in a certain order and in certain markets, they will lose. Those of us who’ve never downloaded a movie on bittorrent will continue to “wait for the DVD” (because, well, we’re not so far behind that we haven’t moved up from video-tapes), but there’ll be fewer of us left as time goes on. And those who expect “on demand”, and demand it now are the ones who’ll put the bread on the tables of the entertainment execs.

The more one side tries to protect it, the more the other’ll just steal it as the protection’s cracked. They’ve got to make it easy. iTunes has shown that if you give people an online product that they want for a reasonable price, they’ll buy it. But iTunes, too, is polluted with DRM issues, and consumers are finding DRM-free alternatives. And the entertainment industry has responded to that with overzealous copyright enforcement, ridiculous “takedown notices” that attack even fair-use excerpts, and threats of six-figure lawsuits against average Joes and Janes.

That’s right: abuse and sue your customers. That will make them happy, and ensure that they come back often.

They haven’t gotten, yet, that they have to embrace the technology and figure out how to work with it, and how to make it work for them.


Michelle said...

Yes.. it's a losing battle, for them. The kids will win in the end.. pesky things that they are:)

Eric Hoefler said...

Hey Barry! The thoughts in your post smartly echo a recent TechCrunch blog post on this same topic. Their four suggestions are right on, I think.

To be fair, it's gotta be tough for the major entertainment industries to know exactly how to handle such radical shifts in the way people consume popular media. Not that I feel bad for them or their over-stuffed bank accounts! ;)