CES Showcases Content Anywhere. Here’s a Real-World Reality Check.

January 12, 2010
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So, I’m writing this blog on the 12th of January, 2010. Who knows, really, what day you’re actually reading it. The 12th is a significant day, however, in that it is a day after January 10, 2010—the day CES wrapped for the year. CES has been the harbinger of new technologies and gadgets to come for years—and this year, like last year, proved to be one of the most exciting yet. E-Readers, mobile gadgets, the ever-watched tablet (from both Microsoft and Apple). All graced the floor at CES.

 

And, while I dutifully planned to blog about these devices and their implications to our business, it’s going to have to wait. I am just too angry at the moment. Here’s why—just when I thought we were making progress with actual IP ownership (see my previous blog post on the Disney Keychest initiative) through both independent studio efforts and collaborative initiatives from content owner consortiums to promote the cyber-locker concept, I’ve hit a personal, significant barrier. Thus, I’m angry.

 

Here’s why: I want my American version of The Office. It’s that simple. I bought it through the Amazon VOD service a couple of months ago for the premium price of $40-bucks—not anThe Office insignificant

So, I’m writing this blog on the 12th of January, 2010. Who knows, really, what day you’re actually reading it. The 12th is a significant day, however, in that it is a day after January 10, 2010—the day CES wrapped for the year. CES has been the harbinger of new technologies and gadgets to come for years—and this year, like last year, proved to be one of the most exciting yet. E-Readers, mobile gadgets, the ever-watched tablet (from both Microsoft and Apple). All graced the floor at CES.

 

And, while I dutifully planned to blog about these devices and their implications to our business, it’s going to have to wait. I am just too angry at the moment. Here’s why—just when I thought we were making progress with actual IP ownership (see my previous blog post on the Disney Keychest initiative) through both independent studio efforts and collaborative initiatives from content owner consortiums to promote the cyber-locker concept, I’ve hit a personal, significant barrier. Thus, I’m angry.

 

Here’s why: I want my American version of The Office. It’s that simple. I bought it through the Amazon VOD service a couple of months ago for the premium price of $40-bucks—not anThe Office insignificant price for a single season of a TV-series. We are a family of technology zealots, and believe in practicing what we preach. And, we bought it with the understanding that Amazon would store this in the cloud for us. When Amazon first introduced their VOD service, storage of content in their cloud was the only option—though they’ve since introduced download options for wary content-buyers who want to have “physical” ownership of what they buy, even if it’s just 1’s and 0’s.

 

We should have been more wary. We bought the series—along with dozens of other titles in our library—and left our content to be managed by the Amazon cloud. Then, we relocated our family to France for a bit. All good, right? How bad can life in France be? Well, try to watch The Office with me and you’ll find out.

 

Kid asleep. Fire burning. Settled on the couch, with the Mac on my lap, we logged-in. And, “Voila,” as they say here. Nothing. “You are in the wrong country”, we were essentially told. You can’t access your content here. IP detection communicated our location—but it shouldn’t have mattered. We weren’t trying to buy new content. We simply wanted access to what was already ours.

 

I’ve been in the business a long time, and have a deep appreciation of the complexity of licensing deals. In years past, I’ve been in the unhappy position of having shows I’ve produced yanked off the air or delayed extensively due to incomplete clearances. Licensing is tough. So, I would expect that Amazon’s terms with their licensors might prevent the sale of content to consumers not located in the territory for which the licensee has a right to sell.

 

But understand this—we were in the United States when we bought the titles we now wanted to view from France. “Bought” is the operative word here. We didn’t rent the titles. We didn’t pay for a single use, or a finite series of uses. We bought it outright. Which means, to make this painfully obvious, we own it. And, if we own it, we should be able to consume it any where we darn well please.

 

I don’t believe in steps backward, but imagine this same scenario with a piece of physical content. Standards conversion issues aside (e.g. NTSC vs. PAL), if I have the media and right device, I can watch the DVD I own, any where (and, give it to my friends to watch, for that matter). Or, the same scenario downloaded to our machines–I access the file, and watch where ever I am, as long as I have access to where the file is stored.

 

The promise of the cloud is that it unburdens content owners (and businesses and people of every sort, really) from having to manage either the physical media or the physical storage device. And, there are no/limited conditions for accessing those files and data from the cloud.

 

I’m not giving up on the cloud—and I’m still a huge fan of the VOD service. But, there are hurdles that the content community needs to overcome in order for their services to be viable and consistent with the philosophy of IP ownership. I’m confident we’ll get there…

 

Now, let’s focus on more important matters. Has anyone seen Pam and Jim’s wedding?

 

Colleen Quinn

 

*Image Source:allmoviephoto.com


 

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