I am a media lawyer by trade. I spend more than half my time arranging and negotiating licences of movies, tv-shows, tv-formats and other media from one part of the world to another, across all distribution formats.
Even with this experience I’m buggered if I can work out why iTunes is selling TV series for more than £50 (c.f House series 5 for example) whereas you can buy the same at Amazon for £28. And Amazon will ship for free and you get nice stable DVD’s too. No DRM either (or none worth speaking of).
This pricing disparity is madness and is repeated in other areas such as music (it is significantly cheaper to buy a cd from amazon than it is to buy a download from iTunes.
Well … in iTunes favour, immediacy may be better provided by Apple. But for TV series this is not the case. House, for example, is likely to be 14GB per series. Even on my stonkingly fast cable connection it’s going to be quicker to order this at 15h00 from Amazon and have it delivered in the next morning’s post.
I am all in favour of digital downloads as a means to monetise otherwise pirated revenue. But for this to be realistic we need two things:
1. immediacy of availability – episodes need to be available immediately once they have been televised (which is when they are available on the pirate bay). I don’t particularly care if there is a small amount of pre-post-roll advertising, personally.
2. the price needs to reflect at maximum the likely retail price for DVD versions LESS printing of the sleeves, DVD media costs, production costs, case costs and postage. then there needs to be further discounting for the avoidance of warehousing costs. We’ll offset the costs of data storage against the personnel costs involved in packaging and shipping from a comparative e-retailer. breaking this down.
retail price: £28
DVD production (need 4 dvd’s for this series): say £3
sleeve printing: 50p
DVD case: 80p
total retail margin: £21.70
so let’s say £20 for a premium recent series should be the absolute _maximum_ chargeable by iTunes.
and for music – let’s reduce track prices to around £0.15 and albums to around £3. this will entail a renegotiation with MCPS who take a minimum 10p for some transaction, but the anachronistic organisation needs a damn good kicking anyway.
I’m a copyright lawyer, I’m a computer specialist and I’m against copyright piracy in principal. But it is hard to be sympathetic to the media owners when the channel pricing is so flawed. The only way to beat the ‘criminal’ element is to convert them to lawful ways. Don’t do this with a stick: it won’t work. Do this by making it utterly painless for us to do things right.