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Tipsheet

DVD Supply and Demand: The Debate about Downloadable DVDs

A recent Wall Street Journal story notes the desire that many DVD consumers have for DVDs that can be copied onto their computers for their own personal use. The article begins by noting the following

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“Apple’s iTunes makes saving music from CDs onto one’s personal computer a simple process, but doing the same with a DVD is much more complicated endeavor. Most DVDs are encoded with digital rights management technology to prevent copying.”
Although it seems like the market is rapidly moving towards more people watching DVDs on computers rather than on traditional television screens, Hollywood studios seem to be rallying against that reality to their own detriment.

This debate, about whether or not consumers should have the ability to save films on their own computers, comes at an interesting time. It was only a few days ago that a major court decision about file sharing was made in Sweden. According to a recent NPR article, four people were recently “sentenced to one year in prison for helping millions of users illegally download music, movies and computer games.” That decision could change the debate about file-sharing worldwide and will likely discourage people from sharing music and DVDs illegally with their friends.

However, the market's demand for DVD downloads will likely not be affected by that decision. There will still be a demand out there for downloadable DVDs. Sometimes that desire is met through legal means and other times, it is not. However, if Hollywood studios want to be at the forefront of the industry, they should start to assess the advantages of DVD downloading and make that more available to consumers. It was only a few years ago that many young people, dissatisfied with the idea of purchasing a CD for one or two good songs, would start sharing music with their friends. Now, consumers can often just go online and purchase the songs that they want to buy.
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There was a market demand for individual musical selections and that demand was met. Today, there is a demand for users to be able to download DVDs to their own computers. The only question is when will that demand be met and which studio will be the first to recognize that real demand and understand its potential, to the detriment of rival studios?

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