Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Movie and TV downloads on Bit Torrent

It seems that Warner Brothers has reached an agreement to make TV shows and movies available for download through Bit Torrent, according to the BBC, with costs being similar to DVD costs and availability beginning with the DVD release.

The system will apparently only allow the file to play on the computer which originally downloaded it, though it isn't stated how that will be consistent with peer-to-peer downloading, which downloads the file simultaneously from multiple users. Certianly, then, the security that prevents the file from being played on different computers will not be built into the file.

The economics of this is a little odd, though. If the cost is to be the same as that of the DVD, and the file will only be available to use on one computer, what is the corresponding value-added to make up for this usage restriction and the (presumably) reduced image quality? Why not just buy the DVD instead, which could be played on the computer (and any other computer with a DVD drive, as well as in a regular DVD player) at a higher picture quality for the same price? I'm at a loss to come up with any model of consumer behavior that would deliver actual purchases of these files.

Actually, come to think of it, if the monetary price is the same as a DVD, the actual cost will be higher, because the peer-to-peer nature implies that your internet bandwidth will be used to deliver the content to other buyers. (Assuming, of course, that there are buyers...)

Very strange indeed...


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