A Good-Faith Effort to Avoid Movie Piracy

If someone wants to watch a movie today, they have quite a few options.

They could download it illegally from the web.

Or they could rent it from a local video store.

Purchase it online.

Pay to download it.

Have it delivered through Netflix (or stream it if it’s available).

Pay per view.

Etc.

There are lots of legal options.

But what about this: what if someone makes a good-faith effort to acquire a movie through legal means, but that channel fails?

For example, if someone receives a DVD from Netflix that’s unplayable, then downloads the exact same movie to make up for Netflix’s failure, do they have piracy immunity?

Pushing it further, could someone claim piracy immunity by subscribing to Netflix, then turning around and downloading pirated copies of movies rather than dealing with unreliable plastic discs or a small streaming catalog?

What do you think?

Netflix + Silverlight = No Need for Windows

Now that Netflix will support streaming of movies on the Mac using Microsoft’s Silverlight, I’ll no longer have a use for Microsoft Windows.

I’ve been using a MacBook Pro for just over 2 years now after switching from a Windows laptop. It didn’t take long to get used to doing just about everything on the Mac side of the Mac rather than booting Parallels so I could run popular Windows software including Office.

I managed to wean myself off Office and never replaced it on the Mac side of the computer. Instead, I started to rely heavily on Google Docs for word processing, presentation, and light spreadsheet work. For heavier spreadsheet work, I run NeoOffice. That program, as it exists today, wouldn’t be mistaken for Microsoft Office, but the spreadsheet is pretty good and much more robust than the one that exists today within Google Docs.

But one program that I really do love has only been available on Windows until now: Netflix streaming. I’ve found that I watch many more hours of movies and shows per month via streaming rather than DVD. In fact, I just returned a DVD to Netflix that was sent to me on July 8th. Hulu has also cut into my DVD playing.

And now that I won’t have to boot to Windows in order to watch Netflix, life is even better.

Netflix Should Make Streaming Trump DVDs

This past week, my wife and I wanted to watch the movie Motorcycle Diaries in preparation for a trip to Argentina later this year. We did so in three steps.

1. We’re Netflix customers, so I ordered the movie on DVD. 41 minutes into the movie, the movie froze. I couldn’t get it to work, and I can’t describe how frustrated I was when I was forced to re-watch the stupid previews that DVD’s won’t let me forward past.

We called it a night and decided to watch the rest another night.

2. I pulled down an illegal copy of the movie overnight so we’d have that ready the next day. The beauty of this is we wouldn’t have to sit through the previews once again since they’re stripped out of illegally downloaded versions. I figure my hands were clean since I made a legitimate attempt to legally watch a movie on a scratched plastic disc first.

Unfortunately, something else was stripped out of the version I downloaded: the subtitles. While my wife and I both know a bit of Spanish, we’re not at the movie immersion level yet.

3. The next, and final, tactic used to finish the film was Netflix streaming. This was also painful since y wife and I was already settled into watch the illegally downloaded version. In order to stream the movie, I had to boot Windows using Parallels on my MacBook Pro, then launch IE, navigate to Netflix, and find the movie.

Here’s the problem. Step 3 should really have been step 1. I’d much rather watch streamed movies than movies on questionably reliable plastic discs. But to do so involves launching Windows and Internet Explorer. If I’m planning a movie night that’s a few days out, I’m better off having Netflix send me the DVD.

It must be cheaper for Netflix to ship me 2 hours of bits than a disc back and forth in the mail.

My advice to Netflix: Support streaming on the Mac. It will save you money.

A Quirky Netflix Recommendation

I’ve been very impressed with the quality of recommendations Netflix has offered me. So much so, that it would take me three years to watch all of the movies in my queue if I maxed out my monthly DVD deliveries and online streaming.

The recommendations are so good that bad ones really jump off the page. For example, I loved the movie Lost in Translation. Based on user behavior, Netflix recommends the following films:

  • Sideways
  • Rushmore
  • Garden State
  • Syriana
  • Being John Malkovich

That makes sense. But what about this?

Netflix Recommendation

I’d like a snowboard movie called “Lost in Transition” because I liked “Lost in Translation?”

Swing and a miss.

But the fact that this was noteworthy to me shows that Netflix is doing a lot of things right.

New Deets Feature: My Netflix Recommendations

I’m a big fan of Netflix for movie rentals, but sometimes I question their recommendations. So, I figure if I share what Netflix says is right for me with all of you, I’ll get some feedback on what’s worth adding to my queue and what’s worth passing on. The Wisdom of Crowds at work – or something like that.

So, if you look at the left column of TheDeets.com, you’ll see a new section called “Netflix Recs 4 Me” which lists the 10 latest recommendations Netflix has suggested for me based on my previous watched, ratings, current queue, age, sex, blood type, and special sauce.

Here are the top-10 recommendations from Netflix for me as of this writing:

* Frank Zappa: Apostrophe / Over-Nite Sensation
* Six Feet Under – The Complete Series Gift Set
* Sami Swoi NTSC “Our Folks”
* Amar Te Duele
* CoSM the Movie – Alex Grey and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors
* Who Killed the Electric Car?
* Hacking Democracy
* Train Man : Densha Otoko
* Weeds – Season 1 [Blu-ray]
* Nine Inch Nails – Live – Beside You in Time

I can tell you right away that Frank Zappa and Nine Inch Nails can go, since I NEVER rent music related content.

Any thoughts on the remaining 8?

BTW, if you’re interested in adding this to your blog, I built the feed using Yahoo Pipes. You can find it here and customize it by simply adding your Netflix ID in the form (explained at Y! Pipes).

Netflix's Irrelevant Account Upgrade Email

Netflix clearly understands
the power of relevancy. If people are able to consistently find movies that
interest them using Netflix’s recommendation engine, they’ll be satisfied with
the service and continue to fork over their monthly fees. Everybody’s happy in
this situation because Netflix is providing what they’re customers consider to
be a valuable service.

Netflix clearly knows a lot about their customers, including every movie they’ve
ever watched and what they thought of them, how often they watch movies, and
what they plan on watching in the future.

Now, take a look at the following offer I received from Netflix today. This was
not a marketing ad to non-Netflix users. It was a customer communication:

I’m currently using the $5/month plan on Netflix, so I’m eligible to rent
one movie at a time with a maximum of two DVDs per month. I can also stream
5 hours (one hour per dollar spent) of movies directly from Netflix.

Doesn’t that ad make it sound like I can cut my costs from $5 to “less than
$3 a month” (probably $2.99) while increasing my DVD rentals from a max of
two to unlimited? That’s what I thought this “limited time offer” was
offering.

However, after clicking through, here are the actual offers:

It turns out the “less than $3” offer allows me to rent an unlimited number
of DVDs for the rest of my contract’s month . . . one at a time. Then, my
monthly costs will double. To me, that’s one poorly written offer. Sadly,
the person (or team) who wrote the ad will probably be slapping themselves
on the back for the high click through rates the email generated.?

But here’s what I really don’t understand: If Netflix is so smart, why did
they send this offer to me? Unlimited one at a time rentals is certainly a
relevant offer for some people, but Netflix should know from my account
history that I’m actually falling on my two movies a month plan. An honest
pitch to me would say, “Hey Ed. We noticed you barely watch two movies a
month. What do you think about switching to unlimited movies for twice the
cost?” I suppose that’s not as compelling of an offer, but at least it’s
honest.

Netflix's Irrelevant Account Upgrade Email

Netflix clearly understands
the power of relevancy. If people are able to consistently find movies that
interest them using Netflix’s recommendation engine, they’ll be satisfied with
the service and continue to fork over their monthly fees. Everybody’s happy in
this situation because Netflix is providing what they’re customers consider to
be a valuable service.

Netflix clearly knows a lot about their customers, including every movie they’ve
ever watched and what they thought of them, how often they watch movies, and
what they plan on watching in the future.

Now, take a look at the following offer I received from Netflix today. This was
not a marketing ad to non-Netflix users. It was a customer communication:

I’m currently using the $5/month plan on Netflix, so I’m eligible to rent
one movie at a time with a maximum of two DVDs per month. I can also stream
5 hours (one hour per dollar spent) of movies directly from Netflix.

Doesn’t that ad make it sound like I can cut my costs from $5 to “less than
$3 a month” (probably $2.99) while increasing my DVD rentals from a max of
two to unlimited? That’s what I thought this “limited time offer” was
offering.

However, after clicking through, here are the actual offers:

It turns out the “less than $3” offer allows me to rent an unlimited number
of DVDs for the rest of my contract’s month . . . one at a time. Then, my
monthly costs will double. To me, that’s one poorly written offer. Sadly,
the person (or team) who wrote the ad will probably be slapping themselves
on the back for the high click through rates the email generated.?

But here’s what I really don’t understand: If Netflix is so smart, why did
they send this offer to me? Unlimited one at a time rentals is certainly a
relevant offer for some people, but Netflix should know from my account
history that I’m actually falling on my two movies a month plan. An honest
pitch to me would say, “Hey Ed. We noticed you barely watch two movies a
month. What do you think about switching to unlimited movies for twice the
cost?” I suppose that’s not as compelling of an offer, but at least it’s
honest.