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Oh, Please Pirate Me! 3 September 2002 Edition
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A month or so ago I bought myself a cheap $250 DVD player from Woolworths.

I justified the purchase of this unit by cancelling my subscription to Sky Digital.

Why did I cancel Sky Digital?

Simple -- it's no longer worth the money they're charging for it.

By cancelling Sky I was able to redirect that more than $850 per year into buying the DVD player and buying or renting some real blockbuster movies rather than the dross that comes down from the satellite.

I have to say that despite being without the pay TV service for two months, I have not missed it for one minute.

Naturally I went out and bought Lord of the Rings on DVD because it was well priced and got rave reviews. I've also rented a number of other titles such as Shrek (very funny), A Knight's Tale (great movie) and other titles that I don't expect to see on Sky any time soon.

However I've noticed that local DVD prices for recent releases seem to be rising. Has the proposed ban on parallel imports been enacted? Could this be the reason for the price-rise?

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Some DVDs seem to be priced as high as $59.95 and Whitcoulls seem reluctant to tell us how much they're charging for Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone, or any of their DVD titles for that matter.

Which leaves me scratching my head as to the intelligence of the movie industry.

I strongly suspect that a $60 pricetag will discourage most people from the type of "impulse purchase" that tends to dramatically swell sales figures. Certainly I would not pay more than $39 for a DVD title and even then I'd have to think long and hard.

So is it any wonder that people are spending a few hundred dollars to buy a DVD drive for their PCs and then pirating titles they rent from the local video store?

While Setting up the Aardvark Tivo-like PC I checked out the viability of ripping DVDs to VCD or SVCD using software that can be downloaded for free from the Net.

Guess what? It works, and it works very well indeed.

If you want to convert a DVD to SVCD format then it will require two CDR disks and take at least five hours even on a fast processor -- but the resulting picture and sound quality is still vastly superior to VHS tape and nearly as good as the original DVD.

So if the movie industry wants to gouge the market by hiking the price of movies that have already made a fortune at the box-office, is it any wonder that people are tempted to rent such titles for a few bucks and burn them to a couple of $1 CDRs?

Let me state for the record however, that I don't condone the illegal copying of DVDs or any other copyrighted material. If you're really angry at high prices the best way to make your feelings known is to simply not buy the product.

Now, if recent-release DVD titles were just $19.95 then I'd be happy to buy a whole lot more of them and the movie industry would see a lot more of my money than they're currently getting.

Likewise, if music CDs were $14.95 then I'd be a whole lot more inclined to buy more albums -- but as it is I'll just listen to the radio and record the music vids that screen on Saturday and Sunday morning TV -- so I can watch them at a later time you understand.

The recording and movie industries appear to be just a little too greedy don't they? -- and we all know what happens when people get too greedy, right?

Who doesn't remember the crash of the 1980's when greedy people invested money they didn't have in the sharemarket -- and who doesn't remember the dot-com-bomb of 2000 when greedy people did exactly the same again?

Could it be that the music/movie moguls are too busy hiking their prices and counting their money to even notice that the steamroller of digital piracy is about to crush them flat?

Having said all that -- I'm still much happier with my DVD player than I was with my SkyTV set-top box :-)

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