Digital Copy Annoyances

I don’t complain much, at least not here. At least, I don’t think I do — a search for “complain” revealed 10 entries, but from the titles, most were not specific rants. This is.

A month or two ago, I bought a Blu-ray player (which I’m not yet quite convinced was a good purchase, but that’s another story). I haven’t, however, made much of an investment in movies. Primarily, I upgraded my Netflix subscription to Blu-ray. Until yesterday, I had only actually purchased two Blu-ray movies: The Rock, to replace the Criterion Collection DVD that has never worked correctly (and that I should have returned years ago), and Hancock, because I liked it well enough, it was fairly cheap, and — the point of this post — it included “Digital Copy”. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last night, after being inspired by Kate, I decided to purchase Elf. Now, it wasn’t automatic that I would purchase the Blu-ray rather than the DVD, since this isn’t a particularly visual movie. However, the Blu-ray included a “Digital Copy” and was only $20. Done.

I expect many people don’t really care about “Digital Copy”. I, however, have been putting movies on iPods and my iPhone for a while now and I really like having movies there. I probably wouldn’t want to watch a movie for the first time that way, but for movies I’ve already seen and enjoy rewatching, it’s perfectly enjoyable. With DVDs, it’s a simple matter to copy them in to iTunes. Blu-rays are another matter entirely, but “Digital Copy” promises to be the perfect solution.

Problem #1: The “Digital Copy” on Hancock is Windows Media Player only and appears to be permenantly tied to a single computer with no ability to load on iPods. Complete fail.

Problem #2: The “Digital Copy” on Elf, while being iTunes compatible, expired in October. I didn’t discover this until I tried to activate the copy, though I subsequently found the date in the small print inside a little “Digital Copy” fold-out that was accessible without opening the packaging.

Note that the Hancock “Digital Copy” also expires, though I don’t recall the date. Also, the expiration is really of the authorization code — as long as you’ve already authorized your copy, it will keep working. Just be sure to keep a backup.

I simply don’t undersand the point of having these codes expire. It seems like it’s just going to cause an increasing amount of customer frustration. It also seems likely that the customers who want the digital copy are also the most likely to simply download a copy — which is presumably the behavior the studios are trying to prevent in the first place.

Now the question is, is it worth a slot in my Netflix rental queue to get the DVDs so that I can make my own digital copies? This would have the additional benefit that I could make a DVD copy as well so that, for example, the kids could watch in the car (though our car has appropriate inputs so that they can actually watch from the iPod) or on a DVD player in another room. While I am not in favor of copyright infringement, I have no issue with making copies to get content that I should already have.

I have submitted a support ticket to each of the studios for these two movies. Nothing useful came of the submission for Hancock and I don’t really expect much for Elf.


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  1. #1 by Finn on December 10, 2009 - 10:28 am

    Now that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Why bother even including it?
    .-= Finn´s last blog ..500 Words: Out Of The Mouth Of My Babe =-.


    • #2 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:19 pm

      Finn – Right?


  2. #3 by Ken on December 10, 2009 - 12:16 pm

    I actually was reading a thread along these lines (though most of the participants have a different perspective on copyright than you).

    The resulting perspective (of those that were willing to buy a movie) was that with the introduction of Blue-Ray the content providers have worked to get around “fair use” and that “digital copy” basically becomes an up-sale to give you back rights, but under much more limited scope, that you should already posses. Many people basically said that they would not pay for “digital copy” at any price-point. Some stated they have bought “dual packs” that contain both Blue-ray and DVDs when the price delta was sufficiently small.


    • #4 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:20 pm

      Ken – But is isn’t really an up-sale as they don’t sell versions both with and without the digital copy. It’s clearly just marketing, but I simply don’t see any advantage to them for having the authorization code expire.


  3. #5 by Kevin Spencer on December 10, 2009 - 4:29 pm

    What a pain in the arse. I say rip, convert via Handbrake, move to iPhone.
    .-= Kevin Spencer´s last blog ..Reasons I Like Living In Arizona #237 =-.


    • #6 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:21 pm

      Kevin Spencer – Yes, that’s the plan. But I have to obtain the DVD first. The inability to rip the Blu-ray is what makes me care about the digital copy in the first place.


  4. #7 by kilax on December 10, 2009 - 5:21 pm

    I bet as blu-ray becomes more popular, they will be better about these digital copies that come along with them. But I hope someone resolves the issues and gives you yours!
    .-= kilax´s last blog ..My inner feminist is offended =-.


    • #8 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:23 pm

      kilax – I think it’s more likely that the digital copies are just a gimmick to try to help move people to Blu-ray. Once it becomes more pervasive, they’ll probably just drop the pretense entirely. In fact, maybe that plays into why the codes expire in the first place.


  5. #9 by kapgar on December 10, 2009 - 6:57 pm

    They have expiration dates??? Woah, something to look out for. Thanks for that! And I’d better make sure to cash in on my Star Trek copy before it’s potentially too late.

    Keep me informed on how it all goes.


    • #10 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:25 pm

      kapgar – I got the reply from Warner Bros. It was useless:

      A solution for your issue has been suggested.


      This Digital Copy offer has expired and is no longer available to download. Digital Copy is a limited time offer for Warner Bros. products.

      Thank you for contacting customer support.
      -WB Digital Copy Support Team


  6. #11 by Dave2 on December 10, 2009 - 7:26 pm

    Hancock’s useless “Digital Copy” was a major annoyance. I was beyond pissed when it wouldn’t work on my Mac. The iTunes copies are great, but I had no idea they expire. Thanks for the warning!
    .-= Dave2´s last blog ..Immaculate =-.


    • #12 by Ren on December 12, 2009 - 7:26 pm

      Dave2 – Yes. Definitely watch out for it. Ripping borrowed DVDs is my likely solution. I should have access to the content, dagnabit!


  7. #13 by martymankins on December 18, 2009 - 1:44 pm

    That expiration is really stupid, especially for those copies that have been on the shelf for some time. They should never expire.

    Having recently purchased quite a few Blu-ray’s, I’ve been loving the Digital Copy function. Although it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I like the included DVD disc for the Digital Copy, but since you only use it once, it seems a waste. Also, only being able to use it once is another oversight, which seems wrong. It’s on the disc, why can’t I download it again if I need to?

    The last Harry Potter movie didn’t come with a Digital Copy disc, but it had to the code, which worked with iTunes directly. Problem with that was the 3+ hours it took to download an almost 3gb file. I basically started it and walked away, hoping that nothing interrupted the download. No waste of a one-time-use disc, but I much prefer the 7 minute transfer time directly from the disc.
    .-= martymankins´s last blog ..Tis The Season for Penguins =-.


    • #14 by Ren on December 20, 2009 - 11:59 pm

      martymankins – I think the best situation is when a DVD is included with both the digital copy and a DVD-playable version. No menu or special features are needed on the DVD, but it may still need to be a DL to fit both versions.


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