BIG STUDIOS STEALING YOUR.TIME
AND MONEY WITH FAULTY DVDS
by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[November 8, 2005]
[HollywoodInvestigator.com] The studios are flooding the market with crappy, rotting, easily scratched
-- and it may be intentional!
You've probably lost count
over how many rental DVDs you had to return -- unseen! -- because of the
DVD kept skipping or freezing.
But it wasn't supposed to
be this way!
* A Broken Promise
Back in the early 1980s,
when video laser discs and CDs arrived on the scene, they were marketed
as indestructible! It was said that you could rub sandpaper or a
brillo pad over them -- and they'd still play perfectly! This was
because however badly scratched the CD's coating was, the laser light would
shine right through the scratches, easily reading the protected digital
information beneath the coating.
That was a big reason people
paid big bucks to replace their scratch-prone vinyl records for the pricier
CDs -- which never returned to vinyl prices once they caught on, as they
were supposed to.
CDs (and CD-ROMS) are more
than vinyl lps -- so why are DVDs so easily damaged?
* Conspiracy Theory
In a 1980s video magazine,
one writer accused the studios of manufacturing intentionally shoddy VHS
so as to retain control of their film libraries.
Don't forget the Sony
Betamax case wherein the studios tried to ban VCRs -- or the
antitrust cases whereby the studios tried to stop independent video stores
from renting movies to the public.
Being anal retentive control-freaks,
the studios never wanted to sell (and hence lose control) of their movies. They only wanted to lease tapes to video stores, the same way they leased
films to movie theaters. But a series of court cases in the 1970s/80s
concerning antitrust, restraint of trade, and fair use in copyright barred
the studios from restricting the trade of independent video stores.
It's not far-fetched to suppose
that once the studios lost their cases, and knew that films released on
tape would forever be out of their control, they would try to regain control
by releasing films on tapes (and now DVDs) that would deteriorate over
time. That way, studios still had the only decent copies from which
to make more copies. YOU, the consumer, had crap.
* Faulty Layer Changes
DVDs can sometimes freeze
not because they were damaged, but because they left
the factory in poor condition! Nigel Pond of Blogcritics says, "If a disc is badly authored, the layer change [on the DVD] can cause
some players to pause while the laser refocuses, or to skip, or stop. Some players handle poor layer changes better than others."
In other words, the burden
is on YOU, the consumer, to pay extra for a high-end DVD player that can
compensate for the studio's crappy manufacturing!
* DVD Rot
Then there's DVD rot. That's right, forget about building a permanent film library -- that's
just YOUR money down the toilet. DVDs are so poorly manufactured
and rot-prone that if you "bend a DVD to remove it from a hard-gripping
case" you may damage the DVDs "because flexing the disc puts strain on
the glue [in the DVD]," according to a USA
So why do the studios release
DVDs in cases where you must bend the DVD in order to remove it? Do the studios want you to damage the DVD
For some reason, CD rot isn't
as bad as DVD rot, though CDs rot too. Seems the film biz is sleazier
than the music biz -- and that's saying a lot!
Jack Valenti has fulminated
that consumers should avoid buying pirated movies partly because pirates'
products are technically inferior to that put out by studios. Yet
it hard to imagine even pirating releasing DVDs are shoddily manufactured
as some of the crap coming out of the studios.
* Format Changes
The studios were right
to be so anal -- there's Big Money to be made in selling crappy tapes! The studios made a windfall when consumers built movie libraries on crappy
tapes. Now the studios are making another windfall by reselling those same movies to consumers on crappy DVDs!
There's even money in failed
formats -- with the consumer left holding the bag! Big Media made
out like bandits when people replaced their vinyl collections with 8-tracks,
then cassettes, then CDs. So too when Beta was replaced by VHS. And don't forget DAT tapes, 8mm video, RCA video discs, and video laser
With every new music or video
format, Big Media's accounting reports show a profit spike. As that
format ages, the profits flatten. This is because consumers have
finished repurchasing their "must have" music and movies.
Most new CDs and movies bomb.
And so Big Media makes its money reselling the same music and movies to
the same fans over and over again. No wonder Big Media is stealing
YOUR copyright by restricting Fair Use and extending copyright terms. It's easier to resell proven hits than to develop new artists.
* Used Media
As much as the studios love
format changes, they hate used media -- another reason to manufacture fragile
DVDs. Durable DVDs would be resold on Amazon and Ebay for decades. Studios earn nothing on the sale of used DVDs. Whereas consumers are more likely to replace fragile DVDs during the next
Media companies have long
hated the sale of used media. Publishers tried to pressure Amazon
to stop selling used books alongside new books. And recording companies
have long lobbied -- so far unsuccessfully -- to impose a resale royalty
on the sale of used CDs.
Recording companies did succeed
in imposing a royalty
on blank tapes and CD, which YOU pay for whether you copy their music
or not! And publishers have long tried to impose a royalty
Bottom line, the Hilary Rosens
and Jack Valentis don't want you to own durable music and film libraries
-- just to pay for them -- again and again and again!
Is it possible to manufacture
an inexpensive and durable DVD? And if so, would it be permitted
to reach market?
One thing is certain -- Jack
Valenti is wrong when he bragged that the studios release tapes and DVDs
of higher quality than those of pirates. A pirate would be hard-pressed
to manufacture DVDs as shoddy as some of the crap the studios are releasing.
But the real scandal is that
while the pirates are trying to sell a quality product, the studios are
trying to do the opposite.
* Captive Audience DVDs
Finally, the studios
don't just steal your money by selling DVDs designed to fail (planned
obsolescence, as some manufacturers call it) -- they steal your time!
Studio DVDs often force you
to sit through FBI warnings and logos and promos that you could fast forward
though on tape. Thus, ironically, tapes are superior to DVDs in terms
of the control they offer YOU, the consumer. That needn't be so. DVDs offer more potential control. But the studios have killed
DVD's potential for consumer control by treating YOU as their captive audience!
* True-Life DVD Horror Stories
Resurrection. When I popped it the DVD into the player, I saw
the FBI warning, then the Dimension logo, then ... NOTHING.
It just sat there, a black
I waited and waited. I pushed
the menu and play buttons, among others. Every time I pressed a button
that familiar stop sign flashed in the corner of the screen.
I removed the DVD and popped
it in again. The problem persisted.
So I returned the DVD to Netflix and got a replacement copy.
So I popped the DVD into
my Thinkpad laptop, and it worked. Sort of.
I got past the black screen,
but the DVD froze during the credits. So I ejected it and tried again
-- and sat through the FBI warning and Dimension logos yet again -- but
I was finally able to see the movie on my laptop. Which is not the
same as seeing it on a decent-sized TV screen.
Apparently, my Thinkpad laptop
more easily corrects for bad "layer changes" or rot or whatever was wrong
this time -- than does my JVC DVD player.
Still, you gotta give Dimension
credit. No matter how poorly manufactured their DVD is, Dimension
makes certain that that FBI warning and the Dimension logo is always seen. No problem with warnings and promos playing correctly.
Cool DVD contains more than just the movie. It contains:
48 second advertisement saying "You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't
steal a ... etc. So don't pirate a movie."
a 2'12" promo for some other movie.
three minutes of ads and promos YOU are FORCED to sit through, unable to
fast forward or go to the main menu.
studio whines about pirates stealing their copyright -- yet the studio
has no compunction STEALING YOUR TIME!
if I wanted to pay for the privilege of wasting my time watching ads and
promos, I'd go to the local cineplex!
you think about the 100s of millions of DVDs sold and rented and viewed
over the years, I'd estimate that the studios have STOLEN several MILLIONS
OF HOURS from viewers forced to sit through promos and other crap on their
least the pirates aren't stealing your time!
Who DVD opens with the usual time-stealers.
* TWO promos.
* Then TWO warnings
to infringe copyright.
* Then TWO disclaimers
about the audio commentary.
* Then when you think
you're finally going to see Guess
Who, the DVD manufacturing is so slipshod, the film skips and stalls
50 minutes into the film!
* And then you discover
that you can't even return to the menu --
the DVD has disabled that feature! Every time you hit the menu button,
you see that little stop sign in the corner of your TV screen!
What's the point of a menu
button if the studio disables it? Hey, Columbia, the menu button
is there for a reason!
So now your DVD is stuck. And you can't return the menu to return to the scene to see if the DVD
will skip again. You must remove the DVD and ONCE AGAIN sit through
the TWO promos and TWO warnings and TWO disclaimers...
So I return the DVD to Netflix -- but the replacement copy of Guess
Who freezes again! Only this copy is so shoddy, I can't even
get the scene menu to work!