2010.12.31

Respectably Devious

19.59.29 - Mark

Last night I sat down to watch Scott Pilgrim Vs The World on DVD though Netflix. An enjoyable visual overload with a good bit of humor, and as it finished I'm glad I received it on DVD, because after all DVDs come with Extra Features and with a movie like this, I was anxious to see what treasures this DVD came with. After the credits ran (no I didn't skip the credits) and the standard DVD Publisher logo (in this case Deluxe Digital Studios) aired it moved right into the Extra Features menu.

As I clicked into the Deleted Scenes I was delighted that this standard DVD came backed with extras, rather than the somewhat common practice of "Deluxe" editions where all these extras were burned onto a separate DVD. With Netflix, it's easy enough to rent out both discs, but for the right movies you don't want to wait or gamble on the value of those assorted extras.

So as I turned off the commentary and moved onto "Play All." I clicked, but video did not play. In it's place a notice that said that as a Rental DVD, all the extras were disabled, and to access them I would need to buy a DVD or Blu-Ray copy. A second attempt produced the same result. The first though I had was another strike against the consumers the producers depend on.

I've felt for a long time that DVD productions tend to treat the honest consumers, buyers and renters, as criminals-to-be with Region Codes, forced viewings of FBI Anti-Piracy Warnings, or even MPAA's own Anti-Piracy ads. Things so easily bypassed you never see on stolen versions, only the legal copies. I understand the threat the corporations are attempting to prevent, but as an honest consumer we hope for at least a little trust and respect. While these has been an issue since VHS cassettes were the Big New Thing, to the way it's dealt with on DVDs, Blu-Ray, or the next generation of physical media for video distribution we'll probably see in 10 years, it's going to get worse, not better.

After further thought however, I came around. In this case, I'm not being treated as a criminal, yes the FBI warning as usual, but none of the MPAA anti-piracy ads. Upon taking a second look they were not secretive about the rental status. Well labeled on the disc, and on loading made it clear that those extra features were disabled. In the pre-movie trailers the distributer, Universal Pictures, placed an ad about the benefits of the different medias, even covered the ways you can get those extras from the different technologies. While it remained a bit of a slap in the face, it's actually rather good marketing.

They show us the menu, give an idea of what we'd receive. It's no different than receiving the desert menus after finishing dinner at a decent restaurant. The balanced combination makes it all pretty clever, and I'll admit I'll a bit tempted to buy it rather than rent it again. While I may not enjoy the well advertised movie deserts if I pay for the privileges, I think in the end it's a respectable tactic. Don't label consumers as threats, respect the consumer's choices but offer rewards for moving to a higher tier. If the content is valuable enough, the companies get to charge multiple times with no (or at least minimal) bad feelings.

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2007.04.02

Ethics of Pranking

22.30.35 - Mark

I like pranks, that's all I'm really going to say about that. April Fool's day (which has come and gone) brings out the occasional original prank, a few variations on classics, and a lot of dreck. For example, I think Think Geek has always come up with at least one funny but plausible fake product in their April Fool's jokes (this year it was Surge Stix), while Google's TISP and Gmail Paper were both let downs (then again I don't think Google will be able to top Gmail's April 1st launch three years ago ) There's a whole list of 4/1/2007 internet gags here but most aren't worth your time.

The reason they aren't worth you time is that so many of them don't meet the requirements of the Pranks Code of Ethics, which is basically a ripped off version of the definition for MIT Hacks, but I don't think I've ever heard an objection to pranks that fall under these guidelines:

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