What happens when content providers make “legal” hard to do…

I never bothered seeing Star Wars Episode II, but I figured I should do it before going to see Episode III tonight. Unfortunately this was also the plan of about a thousand other people, so all the video rental places in the area were out of anything Star Wars related. According to the woman at one local store, they get a bunch of DVDs in when a movie first comes out, then over time they start selling off their extra copies until they only have a few left. When a sequel comes along they’re invariably swamped, but there’s no way for them to have more disks on-hand just for that period.

Of course, an obvious solution would be to license video stores to burn DVDs on-site whenever they have increased demand. The store could keep track of the number they rent out and kick back some of that revenue to the movie companies. I’d get to watch my movie, the rental place would get my money and the movie company would get paid. It’s not like allowing on-site burning of DVDs would open the door to illegal copying any wider than it already is. But the movie companies haven’t gone for it — I have to assume it’s more important to them to maintain the fiction that they sell little plastics disks rather than content than it is to provide better service to potential customers.

The trouble is they’re driving those customers to other alternatives. In this case, after checking four different video places we eventually gave up and all watched a copy a friend of mine had downloaded via the P2P networks. In spite of my strong political opinions about fair use and abuse of copyright, I have no problem with paying for my entertainment and I prefer that over going to the P2P networks. It’s unfortunate that the content cartel can’t get its act together enough to provide a reasonable alternative.