Last week I picked up a copy of Zack and Miri Make a Porno on Blu-ray. Part of me really wanted to see it, being a bit of a Kevin Smith fan, but part of me was just intrigued by the big sticker on the front that said "INCLUDES DIGITAL COPY". It was the first movie I'd seen that sticker on ever, so I desperately wanted to discover what the digital copy was like. Turns out, it's a clusterf%&k of complete failure that could only have been thought up by demons in the seventh level of Hell.
The notion of having a digital copy of the movie included with a Blu-ray makes perfect sense to me. If I want to watch the film on my Full HD plasma with surround sound, then I'll pop in the Blu-ray disc. But sometimes you just want to watch a movie on the train or while your wife watches some crappy reality TV program, so a digital copy you can play on your PC or iPod is perfect. I rip all my DVDs for this reason, but ripping Blu-rays is just a little bit too time consuming to be worth it.
Yet the digital copy solution on offer is even less worth it, especially if you pick up the movie thinking that this is a feature. For a start, it's PC only. Sure, that may not seem like an issue to the 90% of people who use Windows, but considering that the only warning you get is a URL on the "INCLUDES DIGITAL COPY" sticker that directs you to system requirements, it kind of sucks if you're a Mac or Linux user. The FAQs on the disc even have a question about this:
Is it also possible to use Digital Copy with Mac OS X? Digital Copy is available for Windows XP (Home/Professional/Media Center Edition) with SP2 or Windows Vista.
So I guess that's a no? Why not just say "No"? And then there's the irony that a movie which stars Justin Long, iPhones and an old G3 iBook has a digital copy that won't work on Apple products. But I digress...
If you do have a PC and want to copy the digital version to your PC, you simply insert the extra disc that comes inside the case, follow the prompts, enter a special authorisation code and then you can watch the movie. Or so they say. When you read the restrictions on the film thanks to the DRM, you really have to wonder why the studio even bothered in the first place.
You can only have the digital copy on one computer at a time. Sure, that sounds fair enough - it reduces piracy and all that. If you want to move the file to another PC, you need to delete it and reactivate it. Problem is, there's a limit on the number of times you can do that, so logic says that if you replace your PC too many times, you'll lose the right to install the digital copy you purchased onto your PC.
And of course, the DRM WMV file means that you can't get it to play on your iPod or iPhone, and probably not any other portable device either.
It really makes you wonder about just how ridiculously stupid the decision makers at these movie studios really are. I'm more than happy to pay for a movie, especially when it comes to Blu-ray. But by being so draconian in their management of digital copies – something I consider I purchased alongside the Blu-ray disc – they will drive more and more people to piracy.
Why not cater to everyone with OS-agnostic versions? Even if you want to stick with WMV, offer an MP4 version for Mac (and iPod/iPhone) users as well. So long as downloading a torrent is easier and more flexible than using the official channel, these studios don't have a hope in hell of beating piracy.