04.06Survey: Yes, people want to rip their own DVDs
Got an interesting press release today: the National Consumers League surveyed people about their DVD habits and desires, and found that nearly everyone who responded to the survey thought backing up a DVD to a computer ought to be an inherent and obvious right. From the release:
According to the survey, 90 percent (and 93 percent of those with children in the household) agree that DVD owners should be able to copy a DVD to their computer in the same way that they save music from a CD.
I concur. Further highlights: 51 percent found it troublesome that they’d need to crack encryption (i.e., break the law) or pay more for a DVD that allowed a digital copy, while 46 percent of those who wanted the ability to back up their media said they had, in fact, had to repurchase DVDs in the past that were lost or damaged. Plus, and I think this is notable, the survey points out how many people are watching DVDs on their computers — 69 percent overall and 74 percent of respondents with children. DVDs aren’t just about home theaters anymore, and the less flexible they are, the more portable they have to be, which only increases the danger that they’ll be lost or damaged.
The release takes a slightly threatening tone (of which, I admit, I approve) by noting that in these troubled times, when those surveyed also reported buying fewer DVDs, it might be wise for the industry to realize that continuing to sell these overpriced, crippled little coasters that don’t even let you fast-forward past trailers pimping other overpriced coasters might be a losing proposition. I might have rephrased that a bit. But almost every time I watch a DVD, I am astonished anew at how stupid and frustrating DVDs are. And Blu-Ray, in addition to being saddled with most of the usual annoying restrictions, also brings the exciting Russian roulette game that is HDCP compatibility concerns. Better hope that every single piece of your home theater is HDCP-compliant, or risk your overpriced disc giving you a nice little error about how it can’t play. Is it any wonder we’re so excited about digital distribution?
I’m sorry, Blu-Ray, but the DVD is dead. As Netbooks proliferate, more of our personal computers are without optical drives, and these physical discs make no sense. More and more people have robust home networks capable of storing and backing up digital media, and streaming it to different parts of the house. This is becoming standard consumer behavior, and before you start to argue that we all just want to pirate movies, let me break it down to just one simple real-world example. My household has one TV. I have a workout DVD I use regularly. Why can’t I, legally, rip that DVD, store it on my Netbook or even my network-attached storage, and then play it back in another room so I can work out without monopolizing the television? Is that so hard? Is backup so hard to believe? This is basic fair use behavior that’s been prohibited for too long, and as the results of this survey show, these disc-based restrictions on backup and ripping are incomprehensible in the digital age. Get with the picture, DVDs, or get out of the way.