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Virtual DVDs, Revisited 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-virtual-laserdiscs dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "In March I asked why Netflix doesn't offer their rental DVD service in 'virtual DVD' form -- where you can 'check out' a fixed number of 'virtual DVDs' per month, just as you would with their physical DVDs by mail, but by accessing the 'virtual DVDs' in streaming format so that you could watch them on a phone or a tablet or a laptop without a DVD drive. My argument was that this is an interesting, non-trivial question, because it seems Netflix and (by proxy) the studios are leaving cash on the table by not offering this as an option to DVD-challenged users. I thought some commenters' responses raised questions that were worth delving into further." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

This isn't a silly wish-fulfillment question like "Why doesn't Papa John's give pizzas away for free?" or "Why doesn't Gmail come with more free storage space?" This is about why Netflix and the studios won't take our money for something they could legally provide -- the exact same service that they provide for regular DVDs, but in streaming virtual-DVD form. In other words, consider Bob who wants to pay Netflix $15 a month for their standard DVD-rental service, watching up to 10-20 movies per month for the flat monthly fee -- but he only wants to watch them on a phone or tablet. A profit-seeking company, with the rights to provide the movies in any format, would offer Bob that deal. But they don't offer that option, so Netflix and the studios get nothing, and Bob probably figures out how to pirate movies for free instead. Why would a profit-maximizing company turn down the opportunity to take Bob's money? If the free market never obstructs deals which are a win-win for everybody, why doesn't that happen here?

Some quick responses: A few users said that they wouldn't want to switch from DVDs to "virtual DVDs" even if they could, since they prefer regular DVDs because they have limited bandwidth or Internet access, or their main TV was hooked up to a DVD player but not an Internet streaming device, etc. So to clarify, what I was asking is why Netflix doesn't offer the option of checking out virtual DVDs instead of real ones. So of course anyone who preferred regular DVDs could still get those, but you would have the option of having streaming "virtual DVDs" instead of (or at the same time as) the regular DVDs mailed to your house.

A couple of people argued that the real difference is because of the first sale doctrine -- once Netflix has bought a copy of the DVD, it can do whatever it wants with the DVD, including renting it to customers an unlimited number of times, without re-negotiating the rights with the studio. On the other hand, if Netflix wants to stream a movie to its users, it has to obtain the studio's permission, which could come with any number of restrictions (Netflix streaming is geographically limited to U.S. users) and could be revoked at any time. Hence, no virtual DVDs.

Unfortunately, that explanation doesn't work because Netflix generally acquires DVDs from studios as part of a cooperative agreement, not because once Netflix has the DVDs "they can do anything they want and the studios can't stop them". And any time Netflix acquires a DVD from the studio as part of a cooperative agreement, it really doesn't matter what the pricing agreement is between them, you are still left with the non-trivial question: Why don't they just add in the potential customers of "virtual DVDs", and then they would have more money to divide up all around?

Suppose the studio sells the DVD to Netflix for a flat fee of $50. Netflix pays this much because they expect enough users to check out that DVD, that the DVD will be responsible for bringing in an average of $60 worth of users' membership fees. Now, Netflix knows that if they bought the rights to a "virtual DVD" -- which could only be "checked out" to one user at a time -- they would be able to make $66 over the lifetime of a that virtual DVD, since they'd be able to make slightly more by including the users who didn't want to deal with regular DVDs. So they offer the studio $55 to acquire a single "virtual DVD", which can only be "checked out" to one user at a time, but which they have the rights to "check out" to people forever. The studio makes $55 instead of $50, Netflix makes a net profit of $11 instead of $10, and a few additional users get to check out a movie that they otherwise wouldn't have. Everybody should be happy with this change -- which makes it an interesting question as to why it doesn't happen.

Or, suppose that the studio negotiates a different royalty-based deal with Netflix: the studio gives Netflix the DVD, and Netflix pays them 50 cents each time the DVD is mailed to a user and returned. Netflix likes that deal because if the user is paying $15/month to rent an average of 20 movies per month, that's still 75 cents for Netflix for each DVD mailing, leaving them with 25 cents left over after paying the studio's royalty. But Netflix figures that if they offered a virtual DVD plan -- 20 "virtual DVD" rentals per month, for the same $15 -- they could rope in a few new paying users that they didn't have before, taking $15 per month from each user, paying $10 to the studios (50 cents royalty each time a "virtual DVD" is "checked out"), and having $5 left over. Plus of course the studios get $10 from each user that they weren't getting before. Again, win-win for everyone, so a bit of a mystery why they don't do it.

The moral of these two examples is that as long as the DVDs are provided as a cooperative agreement between Netflix and the studios, there is no simple explanation for why they don't offer virtual DVDs as an option. It doesn't matter whether the DVDs are bought by Netflix for a one-time fee, or rented by the month, or paid for in royalties based on the number of times that they are rented out, or paid for in royalties based on the number of days each user keeps them before mailing it back -- in all cases, virtual DVDs would bring in some additional money, which could be divided between Netflix and the studios so that they both come out ahead.

In rare cases the DVDs are actually not acquired as part of a cooperative agreement -- in 2012, Disney refused to provide copies of John Carter to Netflix, so Netflix simply went out and bought copies at retail and mailed those copies to their subscribers. In that case, of course, it's trivially true that Netflix could not provide "virtual DVDs" of John Carter to their users, because it would have been illegal without Disney's permission. But in the vast majority of cases where Netflix is providing DVDs to users with the studio's knowledge and cooperation, that's where it's puzzling that virtual DVDs are not an option.

In the last article I ended up concluding that the reason was price discrimination -- whereby a company provides two different tiers of service, at about the same cost to themselves, but where the cheaper version of the service comes with some inconvenience that is deliberately put in place to steer less thrifty shoppers to the more expensive version. In other words, maybe DVDs are inconvenient on purpose, to steer users towards spending $2-$5 to download a digital copy of each movie they want to watch, instead of watching 20 movies per month for $15. You can get cheap movies, but you have to be willing to deal with clunky DVDs. (The irony, of course, being that DVDs originally became popular because they were so much more convenient than their VHS tape predecessors.)

I'm not sure if my non-obvious answer is right. However I think the "obvious answers" are wrong.

Well, I'll manage. In 2013 I wrote about low-tech tablet hacks including #2, using C-clamps to mount a shelf to another bookshelf, and then attach a tablet holder to hold a tablet above my head while watching movies in bed, which is still to this day the most comfortable way I've ever found to watch a movie. It turns out it works for a portable DVD player as well, but for all the people who moaned at the last pictures going "When did Slashdot turn into Pinterest?", I didn't bother taking a picture this time. Just picture something that's such a hacky solution it looks almost steampunk, but these days, so does a portable DVD player.

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Virtual DVDs, Revisited

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  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:04PM (#47110895) Homepage

    Who are you, why should we care, where would we go if we WANTED to read this personal musing (not here, I'm guessing). Seriously.

    I don't want to rain on your parade, but honestly Slashdot is not a "weblog". This kind of post is much better suited to your blog, but I'm guessing it doesn't get any hits when you post it there. Your amateur rendition of why the world should be your way is of no interest to me. It's not even tech-related, to be honest.

    It's junk like this that TURNS PEOPLE OFF this website.

    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:13PM (#47110987)

      I never thought I'd miss Jon Katz

      time makes fools of us all

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      Well said. I've got no idea who this asshat is, or why I am supposed to be interested in his lame idea
      • He's a columnist. He's probably more qualified than the idiots who write for my local newspaper. But his job is to write something even if he doesn't really have anything to say.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennett_Haselton

        And in this case, there's not much to say. Movie streaming, DVD sales, rentals, etc., are tied up in a web of contracts and distribution agreements, and it's entirely possible that a studio couldn't sell streaming on some things even if they wanted to. Also, a lot of movies are availa

        • Hah. His wiki entry reminds me of Jason Schwartz's character from "I 3 Huckabees". (IE, he wrote it about himself)

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Just because you register a domain and stumble through posting some pages, doesn't make you a 'columnist'. Nor does proxy editing a wikipedia page about yourself. Seriously, its a bunch of tripe and bullshit.

          He's been established as a fucking moron who thinks he has a clue. His ignorant rants about why his peacefire.org and circumventor.org mailing lists get blocked by large number of organizations are prime examples of why he is entirely unqualified to be posting anything that can be considered front pa

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spazmania (174582)

      because of the first sale doctrine

      Unfortunately, that explanation doesn't work because Netflix generally acquires DVDs from studios as part of a cooperative agreement

      Use your brain. Back before streaming, back before Netflix, back when Blockbuster was king, what motivated the studios to to make cooperative agreements for DVD rentals? If you said "first stale doctrine" you win the prize. The studios figured out they would make more money by taking a cut of the revenues instead of only getting a single sale for a DVD rented many times. The rental places figured that lowering the capital outlay for new releases was a right good plan too. So they came to a gunpoint agreemen

      • That is a good point, but unfortunately it doesn't work as an answer to the question, because even if the original agreement is at gunpoint, it doesn't explain why both parties don't agree to replace it with another agreement that makes both sides more money.

        Imagine the dialog:
        Netflix: "We'll give you $20 per DVD and rent them to our users, let's just make it a cooperative process to reduce the hassle, otherwise we'll just go out and buy them at retail and do the same thing." [cocks gun]
        Studio: "*sigh*
        • by Spazmania (174582)

          This argument makes sense to a lot of copyright owners -- all the ones who participate in Netflix streaming. What possible advantage over streaming would any of them realize with this "virtual DVD" concept? And why would anyone who rejects streaming not also reject the virtual DVD concept?

        • by Jiro (131519)

          Oh, please.

          Someone already pointed out that the studio has no reason to make this offer instead of normal streaming, but even if they do decide they want to make that offer, the next question is what price the studio wants to charge. The studio would charge a price for the streaming agreement that is less favorable to Netflix than the price for the DVD agreement, because Netflix can't resort to first sale. They may even charge a price that Netflix feels isn't worth it. (If Netflix then refuses to buy, it

        • That is a good point, but unfortunately it doesn't work as an answer to the question, because even if the original agreement is at gunpoint, it doesn't explain why both parties don't agree to replace it with another agreement that makes both sides more money. ...

          That would bring in more money, and that's what makes it an interesting question as to why they don't do it.

          You have to remember that we are talking about the same industry that didn't want to have a "home video" market in the first place. The fear was that if people could get movies at home, they would stop going to the theaters and the industry would go bust. (I am oversimplifying) In the end, they were wrong and have made even more money then before.

          They have repeated this behavior several times since: Video rentals. Cable broadcasting. Video streaming (of any kind).

          Well, this is really still the left overs of

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      You don't KNOW Bennett Haselton???

      His 'oral' skills provide the 'tension relief' for Slashdot ed's like Timothy and Soulskill.

    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:55PM (#47111453)

      Who are you, why should we care, where would we go if we WANTED to read this personal musing (not here, I'm guessing). Seriously.

      I don't want to rain on your parade, but honestly Slashdot is not a "weblog". This kind of post is much better suited to your blog, but I'm guessing it doesn't get any hits when you post it there. Your amateur rendition of why the world should be your way is of no interest to me. It's not even tech-related, to be honest.

      It's junk like this that TURNS PEOPLE OFF this website.

      Right. This entire premise is dumb from the start.
      And he ends with:

      In 2013 I wrote about low-tech tablet hacks including #2, using C-clamps to mount a shelf to another bookshelf, and then attach a tablet holder to hold a tablet above my head while watching movies in bed, which is still to this day the most comfortable way I've ever found to watch a movie.

      Really? So this entire post is a summary of all of your other posts, your opinion on the comments section of each, and you're conclusion is you can clamp a tablet or DVD player to your headboard and it's almost as good... So you've stuck it to the industry overlords whos only real goal is to make you unhappy?

      I'm sorry... but the fact that this post got through when ANY of my submissions didn't is insulting to say the least. I dont mind if you don't think what I'm interested in today isn't of interest to the general Slashdot community... but this is? Really? I'd have been more interested in what a 2yr old produced by pounding on the keyboard than this self aggrandizing drivel.

      • Right. This entire premise is dumb from the start.

        Ya, it's like the Dvorak articles of old. It gives me nostalgia for the /. of ten years ago.

    • by wjcofkc (964165)
      The only thing worse than beta is Bennett Haselton. How does this crap keep making it's way to the front page?
    • This shit keeps appearing because Jeff Boehm (a.k.a. "Soulskill") has the hots for Haselton.
  • Classic Bennett (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:05PM (#47110897)

    Getting the answers for the questions no one cared about, and presenting them in a fashion no one will read.

    Giving his thoughts to the slashdot crowd is like giving a mule a spinning wheel. They don't care, and probably wouldn't know what to do with them even if they did.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Who the fuck is Bennett and why should I care? tl;dr.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)

      Giving his thoughts to the slashdot crowd is like giving a mule a spinning wheel. They don't care, and probably wouldn't know what to do with them even if they did.

      Wrong! Through the power of slashdot, we now know that pretty much all animals will give a wheel a spin, conversly, the same is not true for the amount of people willing to swallow his tripe... unless he's already swallowed something of theirs.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:06PM (#47110909)

    Do you not remember CDNow, and the virtual CD service? You probably don't since it was annihilated in a legal storm of massive furor.

    Why is Netflix being unable to offer "virtual CD"s any more complicated than "movie studio lawyers do not like it"??

    • by lgw (121541)

      Not to defend Bennett, but copyright law for "phonorecords" is just different; e.g. you can't rent out CDs like you can DVDs.

      But Bennett is still an idiot to think that Netflix hasn't already worked through this idea with their lawyers. Plus, let's face it, Netflix is gradually dropping DVDs as a thing. I think the first 20 DVDs in my queue now are "very long wait", and it looks like Netflix is just giving up on anything but new releases and a bit of older schlock, much like Redbox.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        I agree that these are legal issues. But rather than just saying it's stupid to even ask the quest, like others have been, I think it's an interesting topic. It is indeed annoying to find that a movie isn't available for streaming but is available on the dvd service. To the uninitiated it seems sort of like a no-brainer to also serve up the dvds virtually.

        The problem is really that the studios greatly hate the whole concept of streaming in the first place. Everything has to be negotiated separately. Th

    • Do you not remember CDNow, and the virtual CD service? You probably don't since it was annihilated in a legal storm of massive furor.

      I don't recall CDNow, but Cringely [pbs.org] had a posited legal maneuver to account for the phonorecording problem. But, yeah, his idea is over a decade old, so way to use the Google, submitter.

      ob: this never occurred to anybody at Netflix...

      • by Rakarra (112805)

        ob: this never occurred to anybody at Netflix...

        Netflix comes up with a fair number of good ideas that consumers want but the people with control will never go for. Unlimited streaming for a flat rate, for instance. Or putting caching servers in Comcast's data centers to reduce the load streaming video has on peering points. Etc.

    • Easy way around this. Netflix could purchase thousands of DVD players, set them to stream, and lease the player to the customer.

      Each month you can call in so many times to have them change the movie in the player!

    • by guises (2423402)
      Possibly a better comparison is Zediva - a company that tried to do exactly what the article is describing, with DVDs not CDs, and was shut down: http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

      As silly as it is, the law seems to be settled on this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you think, for even one second, that the MPAA will allow you to conveniently watch their movies however you please, the instant they are released, worldwide, you should check yourself into a mental hospital.

  • "When did Slashdot turn into Pinterest?"

    Or someone's blog...
    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      September 2012

    • by pla (258480)
      Or someone's blog...

      ...Complete with shameless plugs to his last few blog posts. Funny, some sites actually ban you for pulling shit like that, even in the discussion* itself. Slashdot makes it an FP.

      Pathetic.


      * Personally I think that goes too far, on any site with even halfway functional moderation; but can we maybe at least keep the FP content on-topic?
      • by luckymutt (996573)
        /. should try this to see if this guy's ramblings are of interest to the readers here:
        Let him submit his blog articles through the normal channels here as an "Ask Slashdot" sub.
        If it is worth anything, it will get voted to the front page.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How is this different from the streaming service that Netflix currently offers?

    I'm sure the author has some differences in mind, but it wasn't clearly spelled out.

    • by alen (225700)

      duh, better content?
      most of netflix streaming is crap that wasn't very popular to begin with

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think the point being made was, "Why reinvent the wheel?" They already have the technology and infrastructure to support streaming services, so why would they deploy an entirely different method of virtual distribution? What advantage does "Virtual DVD" provide over the existing streaming technology? If none, then the simple approach of getting better content on the streaming service would appear to improve quality of service for a broader audience, and is thus more cost-effective.

        • by Rakarra (112805)

          What advantage does "Virtual DVD" provide over the existing streaming technology?

          I kindof like the idea because I really like the extras that come with movies, the making-ofs, the commentary tracks, features, that you'll never find with netflix/hulu/amazon/etc.

    • by jythie (914043)
      I think what the author is getting at is a way for Netflix to get around streaming contracts as long as they have a physical DVD of the work. This has been tried and legally did not work.
      • Right. Even if Netflix could legally stream the video on one DVD to one home at a time (ala a DVD version of Aereo), having a rack of millions of DVD players - each with one DVD in it - would be hard to manage. And if they tried ripping the DVDs, they would suffer the same fate that MP3.com did when they tried ripping CDs for their music locker offering. (I'm sure the studios would love for Netflix to do this as it would give them an excuse to sue Netflix into oblivion.)

  • last i read itunes sells/rents over 300,000 movies and tv shows a day
    add amazon, vudu, cinemanow and who ever else and there is no way netflix will be able to license rentals for $8 a month.

    you also have to figure that like DVD's they will have to limit the number of times a movie can be streamed at the same time so even with a virtual service you may have to wait weeks or months to watch it when you want.

  • Zediva (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xipher (868293) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:14PM (#47111005)

    I think this will put it pretty plainly why.

    http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/08/02/1852232/zediva-shut-down-by-federal-judge-mpaa-parties [slashdot.org]

    If they sued someone over a remote DVD playback, then they would also license it differently and probably not under more favorable terms than "traditional" streaming.

  • by jythie (914043)
    One thing to keep in mind is that rights are complicated, and often there is a lot more involved then a studio waking up one day and deciding to allow a particular bit of media to be streamed. Often the way contracts are written, well, they left out this scenario, esp for older stuff, and various piece of content that go into a work may or may not be covered. A classic example is the inclusion of music, when music is put into a piece the people who produced the movie do not 100% own that music, they have
    • The solution is to force copyright into more of a FRAND system. We need to remove the ability for copyright to have absolute control over venue.
      • by alen (225700)

        it doesn't work that way
        every movie is a separate project and investment with the studio being the center of it all. the people making the movie all negotiate different contracts for every movie so all the actors, directors, producers, writers, etc will have to agree on the new system

    • That's an interesting theory. It certainly could explain why some old stuff might not be available for streaming.

      On the other hand, the explanation wouldn't work for any movie made after the advent of streaming, since surely at the time that the movie was made, they could have written clauses into the contracts to cover that.
      • I thought the big reason that people sign up for Netflix DVDs by mail instead of cycling to a Redbox was to watch movies first published before streaming became practical. Redbox, as I understand it, is all new releases all the time.
    • Sadly, this is one reason why you'll likely never see a "Muppet Babies" Blu-Ray or streaming release. That cartoon used snippets of various movies in their episodes. They would need to get permission from each rights holder to include those scenes.

  • My god, that's full of ignorance.

  • Will this actually be a true substitute for physical media, including alternate soundtracks (including 7.1/7.2 or 9.1/9.2 or even 11.1/11.2 surround when the media delivers it), deleted scenes, alternate angles (rare but some films do offer them as an extra feature), commentaries, easter eggs, and so forth? If not, I'll keep buying physical media.

  • Your "non-obvious" answer flows directly from the obvious answer that you say is wrong (and is the real answer) -- the first sale doctrine. The only reason Netflix has cooperative agreements with the studios is because they have the "threat" of simply going out and buying the DVDs. Without that, the studios would not deal with them, preferring to sell directly to customers. The cooperative agreements only come into play when the studios think they can gain a little bit by economies of scale vs forcing Ne
  • It all comes down to insane copyright. We could do amazing things with culture if copyright was outlawed.
    • Copyright doesn't need to be outlawed but it does need to be severely overhauled. Simply changing the term length back to 14 years plus a one-time 14 year renewal would fix a lot of problems.

  • Yes, price discrimination is probably part of it. Amazon is probably also involved, since Netflix runs on AWS, and a "virtual DVD" would compete directly with Amazon Instant Video.

  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:37PM (#47111241)

    "as long as the DVDs are provided as a cooperative agreement between Netflix and the studios, there is no simple explanation for why they don't offer virtual DVDs as an option."

    Sure there are:

    1. The virtual DVDs would compete with pay-per-use rentals (i.e. iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant, etc.).
    2. The studios have in many cases already sold those rights - for example, HBO owns the rights for subscription-based streaming of all Universal movies from about 12 months after theatrical release until 24 months after release. Their rights don't extend to physical DVD, nor do they block online pay-per-viewing rental, but they DO block subscription-based services.

    There are others, but to claim that this is something that isn't happening because those silly studios and those morons at Neflix haven't figured out that it's a good idea is moronic.

    • It can take years for business models and contracts (especially multi-year ones in progress) to cantch up in the brave new business model world.

      In rare cases the DVDs are actually not acquired as part of a cooperative agreement -- in 2012, Disney refused to provide copies of John Carter [of Mars] to Netflix, so Netflix simply went out and bought copies at retail and mailed those copies to their subscribers.

      "They're being an ass in negotiations over John Carter. What should we do to satisfy customer demand

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:39PM (#47111257)

    THis whole discussion is completely muddied by calling it Virtual DVDs.

    It isn't virtual DVDs at all. I can't mount one remotely as a disk, or get an iso, and also probably not see the other stuff that would normally come on a DVD such as features and trailers.

    You need to call it what it really is, conventional streaming on a views-per-month plan, which is pretty much identical to what you already get for your $8.99/month from Netflix other than what you get already isn't limited.

    By adding a view limit you would probably save at most a buck month. If that amount of money is significant to you then you probably shouldn't have a Neflix account at all.

    I'll stick to getting the physical DVDs by mail thanks. IMHO streaming sucks, no matter how you pay for it. DVDs dont assume a hidden requirement to have a stable internet connection, nor do they use bandwidth as you watch. They have far better image quailty than some masively compressed-for-internet video could ever provide, and you also ususally get all sorts of extras on DVDs such Directors voiceovers, bloopers and previews.
     

    • you also ususally get all sorts of extras on DVDs such Directors voiceovers, bloopers and previews.

      Not always. Some studios have a habit of stripping out special features from rental copies. Some even strip out subtitles from rental copies, a practice that I find discriminatory against the deaf and hard of hearing.

    • The problem is that the physical DVD netflix service has a selection that is different from the streaming netflix service. If you want the increased selection, you have to forego the ability to download it.

      There is no technical barrier preventing netflix from allowing you to download a DRM'd exact copy of a DVD. You could then play it, or transfer it to another device, or maybe even transcode it for smaller screens and transfer it to another device, all within their app. The only barrier is copyright. A

  • This sounds like Aereo [aereo.com], which also provides a business model in which physical resources dictate the scarcity. Since they are currently preparing for a trial at the Supreme Court it's probably wise to hold off a bit.

    the studios are leaving cash on the table

    You must be new here; the studios have always been in the business of fighting progress as long as possible in order to protect existing revenue streams.

  • First, NetFlix started their business by buying DVDs off-the-shelf and renting them out. If they are using cooperative agreements to obtain DVDs now, then that's a change since then - it may very well save them money, but nonetheless it's a distraction here. The people that want DVDs are going to get the DVD service.

    Second, VirtualDVDs are essentially NetFlix's Streaming business, and it makes sense they'd do the streaming instead of a DVD download as you describe if for no other reason than the technica
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @02:51PM (#47111385) Homepage

    Because the studios don't want another online sales channel to undercut their physical DVD sales (because their profit is higher on the latter). Because Netflix wouldn't make enough money from this service to offset the legal hassle that would come if they didn't play by the studios rules. Netflix is already being slightly bent over by its peers for network access - it doesn't need another hassle. Finally, if you press on some marginal activity like this, the studios might stop working with you altogether.

    Is this enough, or need I go on?

  • Bandwidth is too cheap for virtual DVDs. You can get connected almost anywhere and stream. And if you are really in need of content that badly you'll buy it from the "store" of your choice and download it. They make more money this way. Its toooooooooooo easy these days to break encryption, so once its busted its busted for life and the content owners don't want to have to keep reinvesting in newer tech/encryption schemes, so they won't offer it. Example... DVD / BR... Even CDs are almost a thing of
  • Streaming content is more akin to broadcasting than it is to the physical delivery of DVDs. The FBI disclaimer at the beginning of movies penalizes broadcasting movies under the penalty of the law. The purchasing of a physical DVD does not allot Netflix the legal means to broadcast a DVD. Plain and simple. Netflix already provides streaming services legally via other arrangements. Therefore, I'm not sure what the point of this posting is.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Netflix has many movies available on DVD that are not available to be streamed. So the point is, why not make those DVDs available to stream (and the answer is that it can't be done without getting a new contract for that movie).

      The questions being asked in the article are a bit confused I think though. Netflix is not allowed to rent the DVDs even with the first sale doctrine, because copyright laws were changed to prohibit this. So it must pay extra to get a version of the DVD that allows renting it out

  • Umm, the DVDs aren't a fixed number in a month for most subscribers, except the limit of actual mail times. (BTW, I'm NOT one of those who actually watched and returned a DVD in a day..)

    (I was a Netflix member in the very very early days, where it WAS 4 DVDs/month.. and it was still cheaper than rental stores.)

  • I would ask (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:10PM (#47113847) Journal
    I would ask for a Bennett section so that we could ignore the posts but neither Timothy nor Soulskill can get things posted into the right sections anyway, so never mind.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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