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Summary:

A few thousand consumers are pledging to never ever download any unlicensed movie via BitTorrent again, as long as Hollywood offers them a legal alternative that comes without DRM, local restrictions, release windows and premium pricing. Illusionary demands, or a necessary attempt to aim high?

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We’d pay for content if we would get it our way: That’s the gist of the Digital Media Consumption Manifesto that was collectively written by audience members of this week’s Lift conference in Switzerland.

Supporters of the manifesto promise to never illegally download any movie again, if the film industry offers them a legal alternative that is meeting their demands.

These are, in short:

  • Cheaper Movies. The manifesto demands that paid downloads should be as cheap as a theater ticket. Rentals should run at ⅓ of that, subscription services shouldn’t cost more that three theater tickets per month and three TV show episodes should cost as much as one movie.
  • No DRM. Movies are supposed to be DRM-free and run on any device.
  • Everything, everywhere. The manifesto’s authors want to have access to “nearly every movie ever made,” and demand that Hollywood does away with its international release schedules and local restrictions to instead release titles world-wide on the same day.
  • No FBI warning. Movies are supposed to come without ads and any copyright infringement warnings.

I know what you’re thinking: Good luck with that. There are no signs that Hollywood will abandon its lucrative windowing or its insistence on DRM anytime soon. Then again, people also said the music industry would never sell MP3s without DRM, so it may not be that bad to aim high. The manifesto has so far attracted 2,700 signatures, and the number of supporters is growing quickly.

Regardless of how unrealistic it may be, the manifesto brings up an interesting question: How have DRM, price, release windows and similar issues affected your purchasing behavior? Have you downloaded files illegally in the past, and have new services made you stop? Or have you always paid, but would you pay even more for content if any of the demands of the Digital Media Consumption Manifesto were met? Let us know in the comments!

Image courtesy (CC-BY-SA) of Flickr user elizaIO.

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  1. I used to download mp3’s all the time until I found itunes last year and guess what? I ended up spending over $100 on music last year which is more than I had spent the last 7 years combined.

    Why? Because itunes music is inexpensive, fast and very convenient. My downloading mp3’s was never about sticking it to the man, it was about convenience that the music industry sorely lacked for years by clinging to outdated business models. When they made it convenient I happily came back to buy.

    The movie industry could take a lesson from this. The problem that’s going to trip them up is their insistence on overpricing digital downloads. They should cost the same price or even near the same price as the disc version.

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    1. Err, digital downloads should NOT cost the same price…

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  2. Agreed, retail and digital should not cost the same.
    Additionally, I think some of this pricing advice is flawed …
    F.e. the tv episode price at 1/3 of a movie ticket here would equate to 3 € or more, which is definitely too much. Also I think downloads should be cheaper than a theater ticket, not the same price.

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  3. Wow. That’s very generous terms. I’d suggest a dollar for new releases and a penny for the rest.

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  4. Everything has to be available to everyone, not the “because we don’t show it on TV/Cable in your country, we won’t sell it there either” I love heaps of the docos that come out of the US, UK, rest of the world

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  5. When I met the team who did this at LIFT I told them that streaming is making this irrelevant. I no longer buy media. I rent time on it. Here’s some examples:

    1. I no longer want to own movies, I just stream them off of Netflix.

    2. I no longer want to own music, I just stream it off of Pandora or other music services like Spotify.

    They rightfully pushed back and said that these streaming systems are only available for a small number of users. Agreed. Which is why I support this.

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  6. Kelley Mitchell Monday, February 7, 2011

    I would love to see some sweeping changes in the movie industry. I have this…friend who does download files, but she still pays for Netflix, for cable with HBO, rents from Redbox and buys her favorite movies. But even with all those, the availability of movies is hit or miss. And yes, my friend would not download movies if they were available via any of the legal avenues when she wanted to see them. She would also pay more for Netflix if that meant more content.

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  7. [...] has been gaining media attention during these past few days on wired.com, heise.de, rawstory.com, gigaom.com, sueddeutsche.de, news.ycombinator.com and more. I was on the team in charge of writing the pricing [...]

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