March 14, 2005 10:00 AM PST

New methods eyed for buying movies

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Want to get rid of that old DVD box set of "The Best of Barnaby Jones?" Peerflix has the site for you.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company has created a site at which consumers can trade their old DVDs with one another, thereby stretching their entertainment budgets and clearing out clutter.

Peerflix is one of a number of outfits determined to change the way consumers get their movies. Inspired in part by the success of rent-by-mail pioneer Netflix, a crowd of innovators is stepping forward to prove there is still lots of fat that can be trimmed from the system. Besides offering movies for less, many of these companies hope to exploit the blandness of cable outlets by linking up with producers whose movies, for whatever reason, never clicked with the public at large, but which may still appeal to aficionados of particular niches.

News.context

What's new:
The world of movie distributing has a flurry of new entrants--following Netflix--who say they can deliver a greater variety of movies to consumers, at lower prices, in more convenient ways.

Bottom line:
These upstarts face financial challenges as they try to get licenses from content providers, forcing at least one of the newbies to deal only in adult films for now. Still, Net video entrepreneurs are countering the hard economic realities with creativity and optimism.

More stories on the movie industry

"Five to six studios account for 90 percent of the box office but only 50 percent of the movies made," said Jim Flynn, chief executive of EZTakes, of Easthampton, Mass., which has created a service in which consumers legally download movies to PCs, where they can burn them to disc. "Rights holders set up their own DVD download store."

At the same time, Hollywood itself--determined not to make the same mistakes as the music industry--has begun experimenting with new distribution models.

Four of the biggest studios jointly back Internet movie download service MovieLink, and Disney has launched trials for an over-the-air download service called MovieBeam.

In addition, cable companies, including Comcast, now offer video-on-demand services as part of their digital cable packages.

The presence of industry giants hasn't deterred a flurry of upstarts, however, who see the studio efforts as half-hearted at best. Start-up Akimbo Systems sells movie downloads over the Internet for playback on PCs, and currently offers some 25,000 titles, mostly from smaller independent or obscure studios. Akimbo recently unveiled a set-top box, allowing delivery and playback of movie downloads on a television rather than a PC.

Netflix, too, hopes to evolve past its dependence on the U.S. Postal Service to become an Internet-powered service. The company late last year announced a joint venture with TiVo to create a movie download store. Executives at music download pioneer Napster have also set their sights on a video service, CEO Chris Gorog told a crowd at the Cannes Film Festival in January.

Is porn the only moneymaker?
Video on demand and current download services, however, aren't exactly consumer-friendly, argues Flynn of EZTakes. Consumers have to get a special set-top box, watch movies on their PCs or "have an engineering degree." His company's service allows consumers to own the movie by burning their own discs, while producers cut costs associated with packaging and inventory.

Flynn estimated that roughly 20 million households in the United States have DVD burners and high-speed network connections--and therefore could take advantage of the system.

But connecting the Internet and TV sets isn't the only hurdle for new video services. Another problem is getting quality content at rates that

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5 comments

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If you own it, you can re-sell it!
It is NOT "legally iffy" to sell a used DVD! If you own it, you can do what you want with it. You can sell it, give it away, loan it to your friends, toss it out with the trash, drill holes in it... It's YOUR property. (Of course, you can't make illegal copies, and you can't use it in a "public performance" without permission.)

People sell used books all the time. You can even sell an altered book. You can write in it, or white-out all the dirty words and re-sell it! (College students usually write in and "highlight" thier books before re-selling them.)
Posted by DougDbug (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True, see Half/eBay/Amazon Marketplace
Ditto. I was very surprised when they wrote about selling of used DVDs being illegal (or quasi-illegal) in the opening paragraphs.

People have sold used DVDs for years through places like Half.com, eBay, or Amazon Marketplace. Not to mention that many music/DVD stores let you sell back used music CDs/DVDs.
Posted by Rusdude (170 comments )
Link Flag
You Are Correct, Sir!
DVD video product that is distributed in the US is covered by First Sale Doctrine. First Sale states that after a legally distributed copy of a copyrighted and recorded film media is owned, the owner can subsequently distribute that original copy as they see fit, this can include resale, rental, given away etc. The DMCA relates more to the breaking of encryption to make illegal copies of the original, this is not in any way allowed for under law. Here is a more detailed explanation of the DMCA;

"The DMCA also makes it illegal for a person to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component or part thereof which is primarily designed or produced to circumvent a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner in a work protected by copyright, has only a limited commercially significant purpose or use other than circumvention of such measures, or is marketed for use in circumventing such measures."

This has to do with illegal duplication of the original copyrighted work, not the distribution of that original.
Posted by Manning27 (1 comment )
Link Flag
New used DVD trading site.
How about trying out a new dvd trading site with a different trading model?

Flickflop (www.flickflop.com) is the newest way to trade your used DVD movies. Users trade against FlickFlop's growing inventory of movies, simplifying the trade selection by offering the movies that they can trade for depending on their DVD, their movie genre preferences and trading history.

-You trade against flickflop's growing inventory of DVD movies.
-Trade immediately, no more waiting if a DVD is available from another member.
-No membership fees, no commitments
Posted by deckreyes (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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