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IBM's plans make some fans of rental movies queasy

You microwave your popcorn, you curl up on your couch and you fire up the latest DVD release, hot out of your local movie rental joint.  As the story begins to take off, all of a sudden the movie freezes.  There is no more movie, just a blaring commercial filling your screen.  You blink in confusion, wondering what just happened.  You reach for the remote, but you cannot fast forward through this commercial.  Only after a few long moments does your movie resume.  Over the course of the movie, you are forced to endure this process multiple times.

This is the concept behind a new patent application from IBM, which is either a genius business ploy or maniacally evil abuse of the consumer, depending on how you choose to look at it.

The patent details a scheme where the user could rent and purchase movies at either a standard rate, with commercial interruption, or pay a few extra dollars to avoid the annoyances.  When a DVD is inserted into a player, the player will automatically check if it is commercial-loaded or commercial-free.  If it is the commercial-loaded version it will either play embedded ads on the disc over the course of the movie, or connect to the internet to download new ads to embed in real-time into the film.

Though not exactly trumpeted by IBM, the patent, if granted could seriously shake up the movie industry.

Could the result be a miracle or would it be a disaster for all parties involved?  The possible results from such a technology could be a very intriguing observation on human behavior, and the mindset of the average modern consumer. 

On the one hand it could be a win-win situation for consumers and the film business.  Movie studios could make a bit of much needed extra cash from advertisers or customers willing to pony up the extra fee for the ad-free content.  Consumers might like it as they might be able to save a couple of dollars on the versions with ads, and it might not be worse than watching a tv show, if properly timed.  Imagine renting new movies for $2.99 instead of $3.99 -- it is attractive proposition, despite the downsides.  And movie studios could elect to front-load the advertisements, as is done in the theater to make sure the consumer sees them, but to provide less interruption.

On the other hand it could be seen as intrusive, and greedy in the consumer eyes and cut into sales and rentals, erasing any potential profit gains.  Movie studios could implement the feature sloppily and ruin the watcher's experience and turn them off.  They could also elect to ad commercials to releases of the current price and only have a higher priced version without them.  And advertising companies might get poor reception from consumers who go to their fridge to get a soda or beer whenever the commercial comes on.

This technology poses a question similar to Fox and NBC's buzz-generating free TV episode online service, detailed at DailyTech, which includes embedded ads, similar to a traditional TV broadcast.  However this technology goes one step further, by seeking to introduce ads into a niche they did not typically occupy. How these technologies, and others, such as Walgreen's new DVD burning kiosks, will effect the lives of movie lovers is yet to be seen, but it almost certain that they will bear an effect.

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Error me thinks
By SandmanWN on 11/27/2007 11:51:55 AM , Rating: 2
The patent details a scheme where the user could rent and purchase movies at either a standard rate, with commercial interruption, or pay a few extra dollars to avoid the annoyances.

Don't you mean a reduced rate with commercial interruptions vs standard rate for the no-commercial movie. With all the competition in the rental business between brick and mortars versus online netflix and downloading I sincerely doubt they would raise prices. It would only serve to push the user to the online options.

RE: Error me thinks
By TomZ on 11/27/2007 12:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, since the current market rate for rental movies prices in the assumption that they are commercial-free.

What this type of "invention" does potentially enable, however, is free DVD rental, at the expense of commercials. This business model has of course been in use for many, many years with broadcast TV.

RE: Error me thinks
By afkrotch on 11/27/2007 12:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
If it holds the same price, I see piracy increasing again. Why? It'd be the best way to get an ad-less movie, cause you know the pirates would remove them.

I'd be more inclined to go along with it, if it were $1 for a 5 day rental with ads, while maintaining the same old price scheme for non-ad movies.

RE: Error me thinks
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/27/2007 12:49:34 PM , Rating: 3
It takes me only a few seconds to remove current adds, FBI warnings, INTERPOL messages, and other stuff from a DVD and make a fresh no BS copy. I guarantee those more skilled than I could easily come out with a program that can find these places on a DVD movie and cut them out. "DVD Commercial Free" will be the product, and we will stick it up on torrent sites. If they make it free movies that are add supported, this is great, since we can get new releases, rip out the movies in a few minutes, burn to disk, and pop some popcorn. Good times indeed!

RE: Error me thinks
By TomZ on 11/27/2007 1:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious...what software do you use to do this? We've purchased a number of DVDs for the kids that require you to watch a number of commercials when the DVD is first started. Drives us (parents) crazy in the van since we can't just put in the DVD and have the movie start. I've been thinking of remastering them with just the movie itself so that it just starts playing when the DVD is inserted.

RE: Error me thinks
By Lightning III on 11/27/2007 1:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
it's called AnyDvd coupled with clone dvd from slysoft

RE: Error me thinks
By Lightning III on 11/27/2007 1:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
it's a favorite of copiers and pirates everywhere although your consistant high moral stance against any form of piracy should preclude you from purchasing it.

I use it to do a software upconvert with my HTPC on my non hdcp compliant pre hdmi 48in widescreen tv.

in other words it get's around the copy protection and wich includes the fbi warning lock and the trailers or commercials.

when a HD Dvd & Blu Ray combo rom under a hundred dollars comes out it should work on them too.

RE: Error me thinks
By TomZ on 11/27/2007 1:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't have a moral objection to using software like this to make a copy of a DVD that I already own, for my personal use.

Thanks for the info...

RE: Error me thinks
By JKflipflop98 on 11/27/2007 2:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't have an objection to entirely ripping off a movie if it really hurt some sleazeball studio executive. But instead, they'd just fire one of Lindsey Lohan's three ass-powderers.

RE: Error me thinks
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/27/2007 2:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, AnyDVD with CloneDVD is what I have used. It makes perfect copies of originals. I generally use it so I can take a copy to work and not have to worry about getting it lost or scratched up, but it doubles for removing stupid stuff like the advertisements and the like.

RE: Error me thinks
By SocrPlyr on 11/27/2007 6:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
Just as something to try, often I have found this can be skipped by either hitting the menu button, or hitting stop and then the menu button. You might as well give it a whirl.


RE: Error me thinks
By theapparition on 11/27/2007 1:06:49 PM , Rating: 3
What this type of "invention" does potentially enable, however, is free DVD rental, at the expense of commercials.

That's the point I was going to make.
If it enables free rentals, I'd certainly support this technology. Not much different than TV (that's before DVR days-kiddies...), as long as both options exist. Free commercial rental or paid commercial free rental.

One thing is certain for me though, once you start putting in obtrusive advertisements, I will not pay for it. That includes games. Is OK if your playing a Dora Explorer game with a Nickelodean billboard, but if the game suddenly stops and tells you to tune into Spongebob tonight at 7:00pm, then it's over the line. (Sidenote....please kill me........or lock me away until my kids are older).

The only business model I'd support is that the obtrusive ads are revenue self-supporting such that it now becomes free for the consumer.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs

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