OT: "Own it forever..buy it today"

p@mast3rs wrote on 11/29/2005, 11:35 PM
While watching TV tonight, I forget what movie was being advertised on TV, but the marketing tag line said just that at the end; "Own it forever. Buy your copy today."

It got me thinking quite alot. We always hear software, music, and movie companies say that all they have sold the customer is a license to use the media that the content resides on and that the consumer never really owns the copyrighted work. But then you have commericials telling consumers that they can indeed, own a movie forever. Now while we here understand that it means that the consumer "owns" a license to use the media for as long as the media remains playable (i.e. scratches, dust, finger prints, etc..) am I the only the one that sees that industry marketing is continuing to create confusion with the issues of ownership vs. licensing?

The reason I bring this up, goes back to the concept of ownership. As an owner, you basically own all rights to your property (in this case the media) and you are free to do with is as you wish within reason (sell to someone else, lend it out, make backup copies etc..) But as the law states, consumers are only purchasing the rights to enjoy the media content. Major confusion.

I was talking to my wife who has a speech due at the end of the week for her class and the topic is piracy. I have given a lot of my thoughts on the subject, pros and cons. So we started talking about this. Sadly, she and the majority of her family have no clue about copyrigth laws which is probably right up there with the majority of America. But her perception of watching a sales ad for a movie gave her the direct inclination that if she bought the DVD she would indeed own it forever.

Am I the only one that thinks this type of advertising by the studios is complete horse crap? They bitch and yell about losing profits to piracy and they fight against every software that allows people tthe right they are afforded in making personal copies yet they have the audacity to advertise that people can really "own it forever". One can argue and say its semantics and what they are saying is that the consumer really owns a license "forever." But the majority of consumers who see these ads DO NOT understand that.

So how long before someone buys a copy of this movie from the commercial and does whatever with it and then sues the industry on the gounds of false advertisement that by law, the consumer CANNOT truly own someone else's copyrighted work forever. Hopefully we can avoid the never ending debate on piracy rather instead discuss the confusion being put out there over ownership of copyrighted works and advertising.


PeterWright wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:48 AM
Point taken, but you would indeed own the DVD forever - it doesn't say you can then make copies of it.
Grazie wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:56 AM
Ah, Peter, put I think Patrick's point is, and a good and salient one too, is what exactly is being owned? Is it "In Fact" ownership of the content? Surely not? Are you saying it is ownership of the the plastic that is called a DVD?

Patrick, excellent awareness question you've raised. In the UK we have the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and "most" of their approach is around "misleading". A point in case is this "short" extract concerning its "Definition of Misleading Advertising":


. .and not wanting to quote here what they say - copyright/licences notwithstanding - please read their opening phrase. Fairly succinct and unambiguous, I'd say.

But yes, good point Patrick.


Yoyodyne wrote on 11/30/2005, 2:31 AM
Great point pmasters. It got me to thinking about Sony and the whole rootkit thing...

Now a lot of us make our living using computers obviously, but I find it a bit scary how little control we have over the things. They are constantly under attack, whenever we have to change something we have to check in with the people we bought the software from to get there permission to use it again. Whenever there is an update we have to dig deep to find the hidden flaws and then wait until it's safe to upgrade...

There seems to be a certain level of mistrust between the customer and the industry on a very basic level. I just bought a DVD that has an anti piracy PSA on it...and I can't skip over it...so obviously the manufacturer thought, since I will "own this forever" that I need to see this everytime I play this DVD...that I frickin' OWN! Forever!!

In a way it reminds me of a line from Clerks..."this job would be great if it wasn't for the customers". I realize the industry has a right to protect itself from theft and that artists/programmers/designers have a right to get paid for their work...but I just wonder if there isn't a better way...
farss wrote on 11/30/2005, 2:31 AM
Now here a new question that I've never seen anybody raise. So you buy the DVD and you own the rights to that copy, just that copy. Now what happens down the track if by some freak event that is the only surviving copy and the original copyright owners want a copy, can you charge them whatever you like?

This isn't some hypothetical question, it's happened more than once although not with DVDs.

Back to the issue in question, well yes, you do own it forever, in so far as they cannot revoke your rights, same goes for a book, look after it and your decendants can keep on reading it for generations. Burn the book and your rights go with it, seems simple enough to me.

Jay Gladwell wrote on 11/30/2005, 5:07 AM

LOL -- Bob, your hypothetical is a great one! Talk about poetic justice!!! Boy, would that I were in that situation. I doubt even Ted Turner would be able to afford my "fee" if he needed to copy my disc.

"Perhchance to dream..."

TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/30/2005, 7:09 AM
i KNOW with computer softwareyou own the media, not the software, so if for some reason every single copy of Half Life 2 went poof & I had the only remaining copy on DVD in the world (which in theory is possible because of digital distributation of softwre now a days. A really nasty virus in the system could take down every computer conected to the dist network), I could, in theory, tell Valve that they ownt the software, but *I* own the media & they need MY permission to access MY media & charge them whatever they want.

odds are though that they would take me to court, make some pitch about how their entire company rests on this media & I would be forced to let them make copies.

You have an interesting thing there pmasters. video dvd's & audio dvd/cd's don't have EULA's with them. They say you don't have permission to do certain things, but no legal document. And, they advertise just what you say.

See, I don't think it's the lack of legal reasoning to fight & win against software/movie/music industry, I think it's the lack of money. A fight against sony pictures (or any meida company) would cost millions, simply because if they knew they MIGHT win, they'd make you bankrupt so you bow down. If they think you might win, they do the same then offer a settlement to shut you up.
filmy wrote on 11/30/2005, 7:39 AM
I think Bob's theory has been asked actually. Maybe worded a bit different, but we have talked about copyright and publishing in reguards to use of music in films. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson both buy up songs, it is how they keep money coming in - it is also how MJ owns much of the Beatles back catalog and how come PM tried in vain to get the publishing back on his own stuff but couldn't. MJ could charge whatever he wanted to sell off that Beatles catalog, and that would, in a way, be the same as finding out you have the only DVD copy of a film long since lost and the "author" suddenly came to you and said they wanted a copy. Frankly there are many "lost films" out there that peole are charging lots of money for, maybe not back to the studios that made them but certianly to the consumers. And than we have the whole "restored" versions of films where people/studios have tracked down the "only existing copy" of scenes or orginal negatives...how much has been paid to use those? (Just thought about something - maybe 10 or so years ago the trades were running this ad from someone who was selling "masters" of a film studios library and it listed a few films I had worked on. At the time I was heading up a video distribution company so it peaked my intrest in possible putting out these film, so I called. Turns out that they were the video masters that were "unclaimed" because the production company/studio that produced them no longer existed and no one had ever picked up these tapes. The seller was clear, on the phone, not in the ad, that no rights were being transfered, only the master tapes. In other words one could "own" these masters but do nothing really with them. And this is a perfect example of what would happen if years down the road someone obtains the rights to these films and they track down the person who did buy these masters because they would be the only copy that exists.)

But back to the whole "own it forever..." theme here - I agree that to the average person it is all very much the "I didn't know that" concept. I just said in another thread that most people would probably get the concept that when they pay to go into a club and see a cover band, that part of that money, in theory, goes to pay fees for "public performance", as it were. However I doubt most people would even think about why, by the letter of the law, it is not legal to take a video/DVD or a CD that you own and play it at a church, club, school or, thanks to all the cheap and free video/DVD creation software out there, put your favorite song(s) onto those home movies of the little ones for your family. To me this is part of the issue(s) that always come up because the questions that get asked here about music use get the "professional" responses about the law...however outside, in the real world, there are not these kinds of questions. Why would there be? These are not pros but yet the same laws would apply and, as most of us know, "ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it". I may be one of the few pros to feel this way but, as far as the average consumer goes, this area is one where I just do not buy into that expression.

I have not seen the ad in question but I would 100% agree that telling anyone that if they buy something now and "own it forever" most people take that to mean...well, they own it and can do whatever they want with it. Oft times we use the car analogy and it works here - anyone can go out and buy a car. Something that many people in a company have worked hard to design and redesign and in many cases have won awards for the car. However you can take that car and pretty much do with it whatever you want. If you own it that is...and once you do own it anything goes. Repaint it, put on new tires, rip out the existing sound system and put in a new one. Add fancy lights. Pimp it out with all kinds of things. Than once you do that - hey, you can freely enter it into contests, bring to car shows and freely display it in public with out any fear of being sued. You can even do this for a profit - mechanics/repair shops aside the whole custom shop business in big money.

So what is the big deal about buying a CD and taking that same CD to your kids birthday party and playing it? What's the big deal about buying a DVD and showing to the local youth group on a Friday night? I doubt the average person knows they can't do it - I even doubt many of the orginizations that do it know they can't.
Former user wrote on 11/30/2005, 7:54 AM
Use your ideas and questions, but replace the DVD with a BOOK. You own a book. You can sell that book to someone else. You can read it as much as you want. But you cannot copy the book and sell those copies to someone else. You cannot write another book using the same story and characters. Books have been around for hundreds of years, yet no one seems to get as upset about the copyrights of a book, but get down right incensed when told that they cannot copy a DVD or CD.

To me, there should be no distinction.

Dave T2
filmy wrote on 11/30/2005, 8:20 AM
>>> You cannot write another book using the same story and characters. <<<
>>> yet no one seems to get as upset about the copyrights of a book<<<

I would disagree with those comments. Many books have been written that are the same story as another book and many use the same characters. With books we see sequeals, prequeals and ongoing stories more than "remakes" that happen so much these days in the film world so I guess you could say that you don't see the "exact" same story being redone the :"exact" same way but you, me and anyone could go out and write a Dracula story or a cheap romance story. As far as book copyrights, people do get upset although I would agree that you hear more about music and film downloads than books. However real world lawusites are out ther e- a fairly high profile recent one was about The Wind Done Gone, sort of a prequeal/sequeal and Paradoy of Gone With The Wind. Here is a good commentary on it written before the decision was made: Parody, Copyright, African-Americans, And The First Amendment.

Here is the actual decision: SUNTRUST v HOUGHTON MIFFLIN
TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/30/2005, 8:59 AM
true, but in the first few pages of the book it says all the characters, story, etc. are owned by someone. They say this in the intro/outro of movies too. The issue is the advertising. The advertising that pmasters saw read "own it today". Not "own your COPY today".

we're not talking individual rights here or law, but misrepresentation of rights/transfer of ownership by the owners of the copyrighted material to the general public.

that's the important part. it goes back to sony music & copying music. Sony music if against copying music in any way (as the rootkit stuff shows us) yet sony electronics shows us commercials for music players (minidisk, etc) that support taking copyrighted music, making your own mixes/copies (by mixes i mean mixing/re-mixing songs together) and playing them in a public place (i conider a party public. Why? It's a privitate residence but many people who do not live there are there. Same with a bar. It's considered public). That boils down to Division A is saying what Division B is doing wrong, but the CEO supports both because they both make $$.
p@mast3rs wrote on 11/30/2005, 9:25 AM
See, this is exactly what I am talking about. Advertising ownership of a DVD is what is causing the consumer's confusions. Maybe this falls more down the line of ethical advertising but my point is that the studios are telling the customers if they buy it, they own it forever which according to copyright law the consumer doesnt own under any shape or form.

The studio's ad is purposely misleading the customer into thinking they "own" what they buy and that just isnt the facts. Most consumers wont know the difference until they do something with the product they "own" that the studios do not like and then find themselves in court.

Ownership is a very strong word especially in advertising.
DavidMcKnight wrote on 11/30/2005, 10:33 AM
If I may paraphrase Kipling without his permission...

Marketing is East and Legal is West, and Never the Twain Shall Meet....

Jay Gladwell wrote on 11/30/2005, 11:01 AM

How funny... This afternoon while rummaging through a kitchen cabinet, I saw a box of Frosted Mini-wheats that had a thing on the back for the Robots DVD. It said, "Robots, own it on DVD."

The way that brief sentence is structured, it leaves the door wide open for a narrow interpretation of what's being said. It clearly implies that when you buy the DVD you own the movie.

Even if it had said, "Robots, buy it on DVD," that seems to imply that one has bought the movie, therefore he owns it, having paid for it.

The problem is the subject of each sentence is "Robots". What do you own? You own "it". What is "it"? "It" is the movie Robots.

For clarity sake, it should have read, "Robots, own the DVD".

apit34356 wrote on 11/30/2005, 11:04 AM
A small point about ownship of the DVD, Shelf-life of the product. Concurrently, I know of no business models being used where the DVDs are expected to have any market value that exceeds five years from now. Within a couple of years, DVD players won't be a standard product. I have seen marketing plans, where in plus two years, DVDs will be labeled as "VHS-like" products. Now, while this does not directly address Patrick's point, marketing knows that "own it for life", really means you can use it until your current hardware stops works. At least with a book, it can survive the Media wars of the future, until MS requires all schools to burn the all school books.
p@mast3rs wrote on 11/30/2005, 11:05 AM
Jay, this is exactly what I am referring to. Misrepresentation only leads to unclarity in the sense that the consumer has the impression that since they buy it, they have indeed, ownership. What cheeses me off is that they market it that the consumer owns it meanwhile try to stiffen copyright and personal copy laws so that the consumer can never own or do what they want with it.

Poor marketing and even more pathetic ethics.
p@mast3rs wrote on 11/30/2005, 11:07 AM
While I am on the rant, what about the same DVDs that a few years after their release that are "digitally remastered" or have bonus scenes added. The ones who get screwed are those loyal customers who bought in the first place. So the first customers end up owning an inferior product minus the extras or extra "remastered" quality.
Former user wrote on 11/30/2005, 11:17 AM
That has always been a staple in marketing.

You buy a 1995 New Toyota and look the 1996 Toyota has new features. Did you get screwed on the '95? No. The same with products ,including DVDs. You buy a product now, it will always be "new and improved" later.

There are lot of things that you "buy" that you never "own".

You do own the DVD in the sense that you can re-sell it, give it to someone, scratch the heck out of it and even throw it away. But the content is not yours. You only own the right to watch it as long as you have the DVD. Software, telephones, Radios are all the same category, plus many more. You own a radio and listen to music. You don't own the music even though it plays on your radio. You don't own the phone lines even though you own the phone.

I think that it would be confusing, as well as a marketing disaster to start saying "Own the Right to watch this DVD forever". I just don't see that this is really that big an issue to the average consumer.

Dave T2
p@mast3rs wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:19 PM
"You do own the DVD in the sense that you can re-sell it, give it to someone, scratch the heck out of it and even throw it away. But the content is not yours. You only own the right to watch it as long as you have the DVD. Software, telephones, Radios are all the same category, plus many more. You own a radio and listen to music. You don't own the music even though it plays on your radio. You don't own the phone lines even though you own the phone."

Heres the differences. DVD is a physical product that one purchases. Radios and telephones are services, not products. One service is free (radio) and the other is telephone (paid.) There is no tangible way to keep a service forever.

The studios are marketing a physical product and claiming consumers can own it forever which is false and misleading but they are not marketing a service. Two totally different things. The car analogy was a good one. When you buy a car, do you own it or are you licensing someone else's copyrighted design?
B.Verlik wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:24 PM
So, why isn't somebody going after these commercials for false advertising? We have enough lawyers in California that I practically need to consult one just to use a public restroom. If we're being misled by advertising, where are the laws to protect us consumers? Where are those greedy, low-life lawyers hiding. Why do they not go after Hollywood too? They have their claws in everything else here. Oh, I forgot, Hollywood is the magnet that brings in all sorts of wackos and delelects that other low-lifes can feed on. So Hollywood gets a break.
A little levity. This stuff has been going on forever and it always will. Give a lawyer an electron of a chance and he'll find a way to make a lot of lives miserable.
fwtep wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:37 PM
When you buy a car you own it, yet you don't have the rights to the design etc. You can't start selling copies of it. With DVD's, you own the disc, it doesn't mean you've purchased unlimited rights.
Chienworks wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:50 PM
In fact, your rights are very limited. You can't show it for money, tou can't show it in a commercial venue even for free, you can't show it to more than 12 people at a time, you can't rent it out, you can't purposefully play the soundtrack from it while having people view other images. I'm sure some of the restrictions could be interpreted to mean that even loaning it to another private individual for private viewing in their own home is prohibited.
p@mast3rs wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:53 PM
Still, my problem is with the perception that is being placed out there on the consumers with regards to ownership. I am not arguing the law here which is where this thread is going. What I am arguing is the misleading advertising going on with regards to ownership of a DVD.
Former user wrote on 11/30/2005, 12:53 PM
My radio is a physical product. It is in the dash of my car. My telephone sits on my desk. Now if I choose not the use the services, I still own the phone.

Same for a DVD. I have a physical DVD. It sits on my desk. Now if I choose not to view it (analogy: use the services) I still own it.

The video on the DVD is the same as services on a phone or radio. You don't own it.

But I guess the original concern of advertising is arguable. I think the law has ruled on taking some ads literally and some as just marketing. It would have to be a test case, but I seriously doubt if anyone other than the lawyers would come out satisfied.

Dave T2
B.Verlik wrote on 11/30/2005, 1:04 PM
Maybe if we're really lucky, we'll be forced to read an EULA at the store and either 'agree' or 'disagree' before we can leave the store. 99.9% of the people will skim to the end and sign without reading. The other .1% will be making the rest of the line extremely angry, especially during the holidays.
Actually, that's probably the reason why we're not signing them now. Maybe they'll figure out a way to make a DVD or CD force you to go to a website and 'agree' or 'disagree' before it will work. I wouldn' t be surprised to see this happen though.