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Film Studios May Block DVD Rentals For One Month 545

Posted by kdawson
from the some-dare-call-it-collusion dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "The LA Times reports that in an effort to push consumers toward buying more movies, some major film studios are considering a new policy that would block DVDs from being offered for rental until several weeks after going on sale. Under the plan, new DVD releases would be available on a purchase-only basis for a few weeks, after which time companies such as Blockbuster and Netflix would be allowed to rent the DVDs to their customers. 'The studios are wrestling with declines in DVD sales while the DVD rental market has been modestly growing,' says Reed Hastings the CEO of Netflix. 'If we can agree on low-enough pricing, delayed rental could potentially increase profits for everyone.' Three studios have already tried to impose a no-rental period of about a month on Redbox, the operator of kiosks that rent movies for $1 per night, believing that Redbox's steeply discounted price undercuts DVD sales. Redbox has responded by suing the studios, seeking to force them to sell it DVDs simultaneously with competitors. Meanwhile, the company is stocking its kiosks with DVDs it can't otherwise obtain by buying them from retailers."
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Film Studios May Block DVD Rentals For One Month

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  • First sale doctrine? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by javacowboy (222023) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:20PM (#29889397)

    Wasn't this settled in the 1980's Betamax Supreme Court judgment? I thought that movie rental shops had the right of first sale and don't need approval from studios to rent movies, or am I missing something here?

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:21PM (#29889405)

    How this is possible? I don't understand the whole rental world. How does the studio have any control over it? Sure, they own the copyright on the material on the disk but I own the disk. I can sell it, why can't I rent it out to someone?

    What legal principle prevents me from loaning out, selling, or renting any (physical) CD/DVD/Book that I have purchased? Do these companies seriously have to buy special versions that they rent out? They have copyright which let's them dictate copying or performance, giving out the physical item I bought doesn't seem to fall in that category.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:23PM (#29889437)

    It may just be me, but don't the retail DVDs have a disclaimer exclusively stating that rental is prohibited? In fact I thought the rental DVDs had a different disclaimer altogether?

  • Re:Another Viewpoint (Score:1, Interesting)

    by CrackedButter (646746) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:30PM (#29889537) Homepage Journal
    Disney's attitude toward digital media has changed a lot for the better since Eisner fucked off out and Steve Jobs became Disneys biggest shareholder after the pixar purchase. ;-)
  • Re:God forbid... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:02PM (#29890067) Homepage Journal

    yes, that's the same reason MS has never had anti-trust brought against them~


  • Re:DVD vs. BluRay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:08PM (#29890139) Homepage

    Some movies on BluRay aren't terribly impressive. You can see this for yourself and you can confirm it with 3rd party reviews.

    If you don't want to see the movie in the theatre again, chances are that the difference between DVD and BluRay just doesn't matter.

    Not every movie was sufficiently well done even when it was a purely cinematic venture. Some movies are just not "big screen spectaculars. Others have poor source material or bad HD mastering. Old movies with 7.1 sound are especially silly.

  • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:16PM (#29890243) Homepage

    Few people seem to question the implicit goal that companies seem to hold, that profits must always continue to increase forever. Any deviation from this path is seen as a failure. Thus, even though they are raking in enormous profits from theatres and DVD rentals, movie companies must find a way to increase those profits by putting the screws on already profitable business practices such as renting DVD's.

  • by Tynin (634655) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:24PM (#29890381)
    Because it, like many other things, can give you peace of mind. Sure, it may not be your cup of tea, and reading your response makes that pretty clear. But for some of us, the out of pocket cost of seeing a movie, plus the hassle of it all (be it in the theaters, or now waiting longer to rent), isn't a high enough value for me to want to pay for. I have better things to do with my time and my money. No doubt whatever movie it is will be released sooner or later on basic cable or I can borrow / watch it with a friend if any of them found the movie too good not to share (most of the better movies even end up in my local library to borrow). Regardless of any of this, I do not see how not seeing a movie somehow makes your life worse than it was without it (maybe from a cultural standpoint, but come on, it is only a movie). I guess we all have our own fix, and for you, movies must be one of them.
  • Re:God forbid... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:27PM (#29890425)

    yes, that's the same reason MS has never had anti-trust brought against them~


    Actually, there's a lot of merit to that statement. After all, MS didn't start pouring sacks of money into both parties until after they got sued, and neither did the tech industry as a whole. Compare the numbers before 1998 to after. [] They learned their lesson well, and now the IT sector is a huge contributor to BOTH parties, unlike the fools in the oil, tobacco, and housing industries which used to be far more partisan and who got nailed when their parties weren't in power.

    Though they've been pretty even-handed across parties, they've certainly had clear favorites in races. Look at how much they gave Bush v. Gore in 2000. [] They also hired Ralph Reed [] to lobby Bush during the 2000 election, and Bush was a strong opponent of breaking up the company. [] And it paid off well.

    (I only remember this so well because Bush's position on the MS antitrust case was what fired up my interest in politics for the first time during the 2000 race. I might not be a Democrat today if it wasn't for that public stance angering me so much. I was pretty conservative on social issues, though I probably would've ended up here anyway over science policy and the environment.)

  • Re:hey, it beats (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FewClues (724340) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:36PM (#29890539)

    Let me check something here ... just a second ... yup, thought so, I don't really care if I get to rent a movie 2 weeks after it leaves the cinema or I have to wait 6 or 8 weeks.

    In neither case am I going to feel any more or less compelled to buy the movie instead.

    I am in 100% agreement with you. I went in to rent a video to view with my family when my kids visited a week ago. I could not find anything that had enough quality and was family safe to rent! Instead I bought a couple of large pizzas and we played Penta all night and had a blast.

  • Re:The other push (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:11PM (#29890963) Journal

    >>>Delay in distribution means more people pushed to torrents.

    No because they are cracking-down on that avenue. I just received my 3rd copyright notice this past week (1 and 2 date back to Christmas 2008), and I've been told #4 will result in termination of my Verizon account. So bottom line: People will soon be faced with having to wait for the delayed DVD rental, or purchase it now.


    This isn't the first time movie studios have pulled stunts like this. Back in the early 90s when VHS was king, my local video store told me I could buy Disney's Aladdin but it would cost $90. I asked why the outrageous price, and they explained the price is kept high for one month to encourage rentals..... and then dropped to a more-reasonable $25.

    Movie studios are always trying to control the free market. Record companies too. They forced Walmart, Kmart, and other retailers to stop selling CDs at budget prices of $8 or $9, raise the minimum price to $13, or else the record companies would stop shipments. This continued from circa 1990 to 2000 when the U.S. DOJ stepped-in and sued the record companies for forming an illegal Cartel. (My family, collectively, received five checks of $19 each as settlements.)

    You can't trust corporations. They are filled with avarice, love of money, and will do what is necessary to increase it.

  • Re:Right & Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nithendil (1637041) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:27PM (#29891153)
    Most Blockbusters will deduct the rental fee if you purchase the rental; the additional price is on the receipt. I'm not sure if they do this with games, although I believe it would be a good idea.
  • Re:RTF(2nd)A (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:56PM (#29891469)

    Anti-competitive trust behavior. Also if all the studios do it at the same time it's collusion also. The music companies tried it then paid quite a bit of money to settle a bunch of class actions and a federal anti-trust action that could have revoked their copyrights.

  • Re:The other push (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:16PM (#29891645)

    Whats ironic is that back then they jacked up the purchase price to encourage rentals and now they want to block rentals to encourage purchase.
    Whats changed?

  • by tsotha (720379) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:15PM (#29892093)

    It goes far beyond the green light. I know a guy who's actually sold some scripts to Hollywood studios. The way it works is you start off with a great script (they have a lot to choose from). Then it goes through, literally, five or six rewrites by other writers who've been hired to add profitable elements. No love story? We need that to bring in the high school girls - we'll just shoe-horn one it. Are there enough character elements (aliens, robots, cars, etc) we can use to make cheaply manufactured merchandise? No? Well, we'll change the sidekick from a human to a robot with a simple enough form we can make Happy Meal toys for under $0.50. Are there any elements that might offend anyone in the world (international distribution is key)? We'll just cut those out, or we'll localize them in certain scenes so we can recut for different markets - sex for the Europeans, violence for the Americans. The Japanese get everything.

    It's a production line. They're producing a product that's close enough to everything else that's successful they stand a really good chance of making money. The problem is if all the studios are working from the same play book the movies are so similar they won't do very well. And that's exactly what has happened - the production line works so well the market is swamped with product that's only different in the most superficial ways.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:44AM (#29895213)

    " ... The canned response I received back basically told me I was SOL and to go buy another DVD at full cost. Have a nice day. ..."

    You should have written them back, something like:

    ' Thanks for the response to my consumer complaint about defective merchandise, where you suggested that I fuck off.

    I would like you to know I have taken your advice, and fucked off. No more movie revenue for you, from me. I feel silly for not thinking of that solution myself; your help has been invaluable.

    Thanks again.'

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken