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Where can I legally purchase a DRM free movie?

Well the short answer is you can’t. Well not much worth watching anyway. The simple fact of the matter is that the film studios across the world do not trust their customers – that’s the way I see it.

Those of a certain age will remember the good old days of dial-up (anyone under the age of about 23 click here) when it would take about 25 minutes to download a SINGLE music track! Wanted an album? Well best you pop to the pub as that’s going to take about 3 hours. Eventually the music industry caught up with what the world wanted and Apple started to offer music downloads via iTunes. Initially all the tracks were tied in with horrible DRM that forced you to use them via an Apple device or any PC / Mac running iTunes. In 2009 they done something pretty radical and released over 8 million (80%) of its available tracks with DRM free – okay, you had to pay a fee to ‘upgrade’ each track but at least there was an option.

It was a little known fact that up until recently it was technically illegal to rip your own CD’s and import them into your iTunes library – didn’t know that did you? Take a look at this article from 2011 when this archaic law was amended – okay it’s the Daily Mail but you get the gist. The reason I mention this as although it was technically ‘illegal’ everyone pretty much turned a blind eye to it and allowed it.

So where am I going with this article? Well as technology moved on it wasn’t just audio files that people wanted to rip and store on mobile media devices it was films too.

However, here lies the problem. ALL DVDs and Blu-Rays are locked down to stop you doing exactly that. Okay, you think you ‘own’ the latest film on your physical media of choice NO you don’t – you are actually licensing it. So if you want to get a digital version unless it was included with the DVD / Blu-ray you are going to have to buy it again. Crazy isn’t it? In this world where we are all-consuming digital media and have the facilities at home to build up massive digital libraries that the publishing companies are not allowing us to do so and if we want to in many cases we have to pay twice. Talk about encouraging piracy…

So I am asking the publishers – why can’t I insert the film of my choosing into my disc drive and get given the option of importing it directly into my media library via only a few clicks? We can do it with CD’s so why not other physical media? By not allowing people to do so you are encouraging them to find other ways to get the digital versions and again I believe this only encourages piracy. I have a vast collection of DVDs  quite a few Blu-rays and a very minor collection of digital downloads. Why do I do it this way? Well let’s move on to the next frustration of digital downloads – with films you are pretty much locked into viewing it with a certain device on certain software. I can buy a film via iTunes but I have to watch it with something linked to Apple – i.e. iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV – you get the picture. Okay, how about I download it via Google Play? Well yet again I HAVE to watch it via a Google App so I am now tied in to another service… And the list goes on. For a consumer this is most annoying as prices vary by service and there is no easy way to view your various digital downloads that you have bought across multiple services – hardly making it easy for us in 2013 are they?

Well what is the answer? Simply allow us to have a digital copy of the same movie in the same quality as the one we buy physically. I have no issue buying a DVD or Blu-ray and downloading the digital version DRM free – will it encourage people to torrent more films? I doubt it. People who want to do this will always find a way and are generally technical enough to get around these issues. But it would help average Joe – someone isn’t overly technical but more than capable of using something like iTunes to import a film. Come on film publishers let’s move forward and work with the consumer instead of treating everyone like a potential thief – it’s 2013 now!

As I sit and write this article do I really expect the industry to change in the future? Unfortunately not. I still see the same issues being around for a number of years until we as consumers are allowed the freedom to consume media how WE want it will always be the less technical who suffer. Shame.

One Response to “Where can I legally purchase a DRM free movie?”
  1. Gantsta says:

    You can rip DVD’s and Blu Ray’s with the right hardware and software but it is a bit of a faff and time-consuming. Once done though, you are left with a DRM-free digital copy that you can (depending on the codec and container format chosen) play on whatever media player or server that you like.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that it took a seismic shift to get the record labels to allow the likes of Apple to sell their music free of DRM. How long it will take for the film studios to catch up is anyone’s guess!

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