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By Dan Moren

Wish List: iTunes Match for video

Yep, we’re going way the heck out there this week. I’ve been lying on the couch for the last few days, thanks to a sprained ankle, and I happen to be right next to my shelves of DVDs. I’d guess I probably have about 100 all told, including TV series and movies.

And I rarely watch them.

DVDs
The DVD shelf of lost treasures.

It’s close cousin to that phenomenon where you’re watching a movie on TV and realize during the commercial break, “Hey, I own this movie. I could just get it down off the shelf…but man, that would be a lot of work.”

Likewise, I could watch a movie on DVD, but hey, if it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime, why bother? Not only will it be more convenient, but those versions will probably be higher quality too.

So I would absolutely love an iTunes Match equivalent for my movies and TV shows.1 Let me insert my DVDs into my iMac’s optical drive2, and have iTunes scan them, then register that I own a copy with the iTunes Store.

Okay, I can hear the objections now: “But what if you borrow a DVD from the library or a friend or Netflix?!” Well, if the studios are that concerned, I don’t know, make me mail in the UPC code from the package or something. Or record myself snapping the DVD in half. I’ll totally do it.

But here’s the thing: If I’m so nefarious as to cheat the system in that way, was I ever going to spend my money on a copy of that movie? Or was I going to wait for it to show up on Netflix or Amazon Prime, or worse, pirate it? If Apple were to charge a modest yearly fee for a video version of iTunes Match, as it does for the music-based version, then at least the movie studios would reap some money. Which we can all agree is better than none.

While I’m pipe dreaming, it’d be swell if those digital versions were unencumbered by Digital Rights Management, but even that’s not a dealbreaker, as long as it’s easy to get it on all my devices.3

A few of the studios have flirted with including vouchers for iTunes copies of their movies when you buy the DVD, which is fine and dandy, but I’m not even interested in owning more discs at this point. I’d be thrilled to get rid of the ones I have, but the idea of ripping my 100-odd DVDs to my computer makes a trip to the dentist sound appealing.

Long story short, the lifetime of the video disc is dwindling. I own all of three Blu-ray discs, and didn’t even have a Blu-ray player until I got my Xbox One earlier this year. I have still never watched a single one of those movies. Meanwhile, built-in optical drives on computers are going the way of the dodo.

It’s going to be a long, slow decline to be sure—hey, places are still selling CDs—but the writing’s on the wall. As much as the movie industry has tried to avoid falling prey to the same mistakes the music companies made, they can’t escape the march of technological progress, no matter how annoying they try to be.


  1. Look, the column’s called “Wish List” not “Reasonable Expectation List.”  ↩

  2. The only Mac I’m still using that even has an optical drive.  ↩

  3. Unlike audio, we’ve never had quite as much of a de facto open standard for video. And video has always had some form of copy protection, unlike CDs—albeit, in the case of DVDs, copy protection that has been thoroughly broken—so it’s not quite as much a case of the horse having left the barn already. ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]