Choose Wisely

It’s time to make a choice. Do you want to buy a copy of Terminator 2 on the shiny new Blu-Ray format or do you think it will look better on HD-DVD? Better yet, which competing format do you think will be the victor (there can be only one.) Can’t you just feel the lines of resolution?

Of course you could wait until it is licensed to iTunes and download it on your iPod. Or maybe the PSP. Why not buy them all and add them to your DVD, VHS and laser disc versions and then wait until Hollywood devises a new way to sell you what you already own. Ask a Star Wars fan.

I realize some people are just collectors and want every version of their favourite film, no matter what the format. But this just reminds me of when cassettes replaced vinyl, which fell before the might of the CD and is now withering away in the shade of the digital download. I have some of the same music in all four formats, not because I’m obsessive (at least not about that) but because I no longer have a record player or tape deck. They broke and/or became inconvenient and I moved on to the latest tech while vowing ‘Never again!’

Over the last couple of years I have been picking up DVD box sets of my favourite TV shows, and in the case of the long-running Simpsons, that is no cheap prospect. So what happens when a new format takes over the entertainment landscape and DVDs begin to disappear? Sure, they are cheap and plentiful now, but it will happen as new films are no longer released on DVD and the new tech becomes cheaper and cheaper. Blu-Ray insists that players will be backwards compatible, but also notes that will be up to the manufacturer.

Isn’t it time that consumers stop getting suckered into replacing perfectly good versions of movies and music? You don’t see readers racing to the bookstore to pick up the paperback version of their hardcover novels, just because they are new. I’d like to see a content license so that when you buy a movie (or album), you are paying for the content and not the format it comes in. When you pay, you get something that allows you to get it again in whatever new format appears. Tony Gentile of buzzhit! suggests something similar, called Amorphous (Perpetual) Content Licensing.

Of course the studios will never agree, but a lowly consumer can dream can’t he? It’s enough to drive one to file sharing…


  1. it's pretty annoying...i think your post here is great! I think for me, i've just restrained from being an owner.

    --RC of

  2. HD and Blu-ray DVD players will certainly be backwards compatible. There's no way manufacturers will make that mistake. I had my fingers ccrossed when I said that.

  3. I agree. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of Maid in Manhattan on Betamax? ;)

  4. I wish they'd just start beaming it straight into my brain. Then I could get rid of all my copies and that annoying social interaction as well.

  5. Yeah, but if they did that, you'd always have to worry about that silly rootkit that had the potential of giving you a stroke if you told someone too much about a particular movie, and no one wants that.